The IRS has been sitting in the GOP's crosshairs ever since 2013, when news of the targeting scandal broke. But yesterday, Republican leaders took a step toward actually pulling the trigger.
House Republicans proposed cutting the IRS budget by nearly eight percent. This came after the president had called for an 18 percent increase. The proposed cuts would shrink the agency's budget by $838 million, leaving it with $10.1 billion. That would put the IRS at 2004 budget levels. Some are expecting more proposed cuts once the bill hits the House floor.
This level of spending cuts wasn't possible when Democrats controlled the Senate. Now that the GOP controls both chambers, these cuts may well make it to the president's desk. And as Politico notes, the president may actually be forced to sign it:
Holding up a broader spending bill in the name of the IRS, after all, is a political no-no with an American public deeply skeptical of tax collectors. If the president were to refuse to sign a spending bill only because of cuts to the IRS, he’d risk serious political backlash.
Democrats claim that these cuts would hurt the IRS' enforcement capabilities, costing taxpayers far more in revenue than the cuts would save. But the IRS got along perfectly fine in years past, when budget levels were similarly low (i.e. 2004). As the House Appropriations Committee said in a statement: "This funding level is sufficient for the IRS to perform its core duties, but will require the agency to streamline and better prioritize its budget.”
Even if these cuts reduced next year's tax revenue, that's not the big issue at hand here. The IRS went rogue under the Obama administration. It unjustly scrutinized and harassed conservative groups for political reasons. If the choice is between lower tax revenues and unjust tax collection practices, I'll take the lower tax revenues. Every time.