Mary Katharine Ham

That’s right. Despite the fact that tax revenue has gone up since tax rates were cut—a funny fact of economics John F. Kennedy didn’t miss, but his moderd-day colleagues can’t seem to grasp—Democrats plan to send IRS agents after the nickels and dimes we’re keeping from them through nonfiling, and to a greater extent, underreporting. Much of noncompliance can, of course, be attributed to the fact that the tax code is about the size of The Rock’s torso.

Want a taste of what you’re in for under the Dems’ new benign budget fix?

IRS scrutiny is greatest for high-income tax filers and people who put small-business income on their returns. But even average taxpayers saw audit rates edge up last year to levels last seen in the late 1990s.

In addition to stepped-up examinations, momentum is building for new reporting requirements on stock brokerage firms…

To better enforce current laws, tax experts say the IRS could use more auditors...

"Congress would have to add a number of reporting responsibilities" to make a big dent in the tax gap, says Charles Davenport, a professor of tax law at the Rutgers University campus in Newark, N.J.

And, what in the world to do with all this new revenue?

"Our budget is a statement of our values and priorities, demonstrating our unwavering commitment to defend our nation, grow our economy, protect our children and strengthen families, preserve our plant, and ensure that the federal government is accountable and efficient," Hoyer, the majority leader, said before the vote. "This is a budget that we can be proud of."

So, I’m guessing, they’re thinking of paying down the deficit? Or, fixing entitlements, so that health care can be accessible and retirement reliable, as Pelosi desires?

Guess again. The Dems are going to use your cash to increase discretionary non-defense spending by $22.5 billion in FY ‘08! And, they’re going to put off even addressing entitlement reform for another five years, while the problem grows larger than the Kennedy family legal defense fund.

The Democrats passed their brilliant budget fix in the House last week, 216-210, while a similar bill passed the Senate two weeks ago. Republicans, led by Rep. Paul Ryan, offered an impressive, responsible budget alternative, which kept the tax cuts and reformed entitlements in order to balance the budget.

Republicans were talking a great fiscally conservative game on the Hill last week, vowing that they were finding their way back to the true roots of the Republican Party and spurning the big-government conservatism of years past. Roy Blunt called his vote for No Child Left Behind one he wished he could take back, and everyone I heard from was bent on cutting discretionary non-defense spending.

If only they’d taken on the mantle they were supposed to be wearing a little bit sooner:

non-defense discretionary spending grew 40 percent (21 percent after inflation) from 2001 through 2006.

Now that the power’s out of their hands, it seems it’s much easier to stand for what’s right.

Or, is it? Forty Republicans voted against Ryan’s substitute budget.    

It is a rare Congress that has what it takes to address the bipartisan spending addiction and actually treat it. By the looks of it, it will be many years before we see another one willing to do it.

Until then, you might want to break out your tightest Wranglers.

Mary Katharine Ham

Mary Katharine Ham is editor-at-large of, a contributor to Townhall Magazine.

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