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OP/ED: Shame on GOP Efforts to Frustrate Tax Collections and Enforcement of Consumer Laws

July 7, 2011 (The Seattle Times) Wage-earning, taxpaying Americans ought to be outraged by stealth Republican efforts to frustrate collection of hundreds of billions of dollars in unpaid taxes.

The Internal Revenue Services' so-called tax gap was put at $365 billion in 2001. The annual tab of uncollected taxes is now estimated to top $400 billion per year.

Tony Pugh, of McClatchy Newspapers, reports Republicans on Capitol Hill are undercutting efforts by the Obama administration to bump up the IRS budget and hire 5,000 agents. Spending a scant amount to collect an enormous sum.

The insult to ordinary Americans is not only a political slap in the face, but a financial indignity. The failure of others to pay their fair share raises the taxes for other individuals as much as $2,200, according to estimates.

Work behind the scenes is under way not only to prevent an increase in the IRS enforcement budget, but also to slash the existing budget, at a cost of another $4 billion lost in annual collections.

The federal government is awash in red ink and faces an Aug. 2 deadline on its borrowing authority related to all that debt. Failure to act to collect hundreds of billions of dollars owed to the U.S. treasury is astounding.

Insights into the assault on the IRS certainly fit a pattern. Republicans skittered away from talks aimed at coming up with a combination of budget cuts and revenues to cover the debt.

Meanwhile, the GOP is undercutting President Obama's plan to provide better - or any - oversight of the banks and Wall Street investors that plunged the country into deep trouble.

A primary target of Republican wrath is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the president's choice to run it, Elizabeth Warren. They are terrified she will actually do what the law intends: protect consumers.

The GOP-led House of Representatives is also trying to starve the enforcement roles of the Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The latter oversees the derivatives industry that helped turn the global economy upside down.

Taxes not collected and sabotage of efforts to oversee those who profited as they scammed the nation - Americans suffering through a persistent downturn cannot tolerate the financial insults.


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(c) 2011, The Seattle Times. Distributed by Mclatchy-Tribune News Service.

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