House Speaker Mike Johnson wants to fund aid to Israel by cutting funding to the IRS — but the proposed “offsets” aren’t offsets at all; they are just very expensive gifts to the ultra-rich.
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There may not be a more perfect encapsulation of what House Republicans are about than the legislation that would provide $14.3 billion in emergency assistance to Israel.
While these types of bills do not usually contain cost offsets, new House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) claimed that he wanted this military aid to be “paid for” by making “cuts” elsewhere. This part is, of course, consistent with the GOP’s usual concern about the deficit, which only materializes when a Democrat is in the White House.
The offset that Johnson chose could not have been more typical: Cuts to the IRS.
In other words, he was saying: Yes, we will gladly help our ally but only if millionaires get to continue to cheat on their taxes without repercussions.
But here is the thing: Taxpayer funds going to the IRS actually yield a nice return on investment because there are a lot of really rich people out there who do not like to pay taxes. And the more enforcement agents there are, the more delinquents can be identified and forced to pay their fair share.
Therefore, the proposed “offsets” aren’t offsets at all; they are just very expensive gifts to the ultra-rich.
And now we know just how expensive.
According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which calculates how much legislation costs, the $14.3 billion in “cuts” to the IRS would result in a loss of revenue of about $26.8 billion over time. Therefore, they would end up costing the government $12.5 billion.
Of course, that’s not going to happen because, while the legislation may pass the House, it has no chance of being signed into law.
Now, you may be asking yourself why House Republicans would want to bring up a bill that would not only add to the deficit but is also not going anywhere… especially in light of the pressing nature of the emergency and the fact that a government shutdown is looming.
The answer is that, even under new leadership, House Republicans are still House Republicans, and they have no interest in governing, only in not governing (and getting on Fox News).
Hilariously, if he had wanted to play it smart and put pressure on the Senate, which wants to combine any aid to Israel with military assistance to Ukraine and a few other things in a $100 billion bill, Johnson would have simply proposed a “clean” funding bill for Israel.
That would have made it very difficult for the majority of House Democrats to oppose the bill and, in turn, given the new speaker more leverage in negotiations between the two chambers.
Now, however, it will be easy for Democrats to vote against the measure by claiming that its true purpose is to let millionaires off the hook while adding to the deficit.