Here’s What the Rich Get When They Buy Themselves a Congress


A few days ago I posted a tweet from Catherine Rampell about Donald Trump’s proposal to slash the IRS budget, even though that would mean less enforcement and fewer audits, thus costing the government a lot of money. Today Rampell is back with raw data on this, which I’ve combined into one gloriously ugly chart. But there’s a reason to make it so ugly. Can you figure it out?

You’re too smart for me, aren’t you? Or did my dotted line at 2011 give the game away? As you can see, IRS enforcement—and its audit rate—went up toward the end of the Bush administration and the beginning of the Obama administration. Then Republicans won a landslide victory in the 2010 midterms and took over Congress in 2011.

That was the high point of IRS efficiency. It’s been straight downhill ever since. Enforcement is down, corporate audits are down, and audits of the rich are down. And why not? Corporations and the rich bought themselves a shiny new Congress in 2010, so why shouldn’t they get their money’s worth?

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