The stories coming out about IRS abuses of nonprofit groups are appalling. We will likely find out that arrogant and biased officials are to blame, as well as members of Congress who pushed them to be especially aggressive on conservative groups.
We’ve written about the outrageous sugar import quotas here many times. And Chris Edwards wrote in March about the American Sugar Alliance’s ad in the Washington Post titled “Big Candy’s Greed.” But we couldn’t link to the ad because for some reason the American Sugar Alliance has not chosen to put a version of the ad on its website. But the Alliance ran its expensive quarter-page ad in the Post last week, so we’re now able to provide the public service of making it available online.
Chris Edwards showed that the Internal Revenue Service’s budget has been soaring and the main culprit is refundable tax credits. The magnitude of refundable tax cuts is obfuscated in the IRS’s budget because only the refunded portion of the credit shows up as an outlay —the rest is recorded as a reduction in revenues.
The revelations of IRS officials targeting conservative and libertarian groups suggest that now is a good time for lawmakers to review a broad range of the agency’s activities. Since the agency’s last overhaul in the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, its budget has exploded from $33 billion to a proposed $106 billion in 2013.
Last week, farming and some conservation groups announced that they had come to a deal to link eligibility for crop insurance premium subsidies to compliance with conservation measures. In return, in one of the great sell-outs in modern times, the conservation groups agreed not to push for payment limits or means testing on farm subsidies.
Earlier this week, Harvard economist Robert Barro and Veronique de Rugy of the Mercatus Center published a short paper assessing the economic effects of defense spending. Their findings are consistent with those of other studies, including one that Cato published last year by Benjamin Zycher. To wit, from Barro and de Rugy’s abstract:
Last week I discussed the tendency for policymakers to treat the Pentagon like a giant jobs program. It was prompted by an article from the Associated Press on members of Congress shoving unwanted upgraded Abrams tanks down taxpayers’ throats because retooling tanks sustains jobs back in the district. As it turns out, former Reagan budget director David Stockman touches on the Abrams tank situation in his new book, The Great Deformation.
Paul Krugman has never been shy about proclaiming that he is right and everyone else is wrong — and not just wrong, but “knaves and fools.” Lately, however, one begins to worry that he might actually hurt himself, so vigorously has he been patting himself on the back for his opposition to “austerity” (defined as any cut in government spending, anytime, anywhere).
Conservative and libertarian scholars are clashing over the findings and political implications of the new Heritage Foundation immigration study. The study spans 92 pages and is jam-packed full of statistics and detailed calculations.
One reason why Washington keeps getting bigger is that so many business people are willing to throw their competitors under the government bus. The Washington Post today describes how a major lobby group representing small banks cut a secret deal with Rep. Barney Frank to not oppose his big-government financial bill if it excluded small banks from regulations and shifted $1.5 billion in annual fees from them to the big banks.