Here’s How the Rich Get Their Money’s Worth From Republicans

Paul Kiel and Jesse Eisinger write today about “How the IRS Was Gutted.” The nickel answer to the question is easy: The IRS was gutted by Republicans who didn’t like having their rich friends audited all the time. For the longer answer, you’ll have to click the link and read the story. In the meantime, however, here are two charts:

On the left, you can see that the IRS enforcement budget has been slashed since 2010. But it’s the chart on the right that shows exactly what effect that’s had. Poor folks have seen a small decline in audits of their little annual EITC payments, but that was always peanuts anyway. The real revenue-loser is in the green line, showing that audits of rich people have plummeted from 8 percent to 2.5 percent. If you’re rich, the odds of being audited has gone down by two-thirds over the past decade or so.

This GOP war against the IRS has been going on since the mid-90s, when Republicans first started describing IRS agents as jackbooted thugs knocking down doors at midnight and scaring the women and children. But in 2010 Republicans won control of the House. Finally they could really do something to help their donors. And they did. They trashed the IRS enforcement staff and cut the revenue from audits by more than a third, from $23 billion to $14 billion. Mission accomplished.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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