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Monday, December 09, 2019

Welcome To The Dead On Arrival Congress, Where Rhetoric Is All That Matters

@LucianKTruscott

Rep. Jim Jordan

I’m going to be reporting on everything these Republican goofs do for the next two years. To help me cover their lying, scheming asses, you can buy a subscription right here.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has successfully navigated its way into its performative normative future by winning its first two votes. They passed the Kevin McCarthy Defenestration Act, otherwise known as the House rules, and they passed “The Family and Small Business Protection Act," otherwise known as the We Hate Taxes Act.

Big whoop. The new House rules allow Kevin to wield his gavel unless and until five of the Freedom Caucus decide to take that freedom away from him by invoking their new powers to vacate the chair – aka, fire the Speaker – on a motion that can now be made by a single member. Our boy Kev isn’t merely walking on eggshells, he’s dog-paddling through raging rapids trying to keep himself from going down the 100-foot falls that he can see lying straight ahead.

Then they made good on their promise to cut the money for the 80,000 or so new IRS employees scheduled to be hired over the next decade, funding for which was built into the Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law by President Joe Biden late last year. Republicans brought back the so-called “Holman rule,” a provision dating to the 19th Century which allows the House to amend spending bills at will, cutting out stuff they don’t like (new money for the IRS), also allowing them to terminate federal employee positions they oppose, such as the 80,000 or so new IRS employees funded by the passage of last year’s spending bill.

That little legislative jewel is dead on arrival in the Democrat-controlled Senate, not to mention if it were ever to reach the president’s desk.

But who cares! They’re out there in the halls of Congress this morning giving interviews before any microphone they can find bragging about firing the 87,000 new IRS “agents” they claim will be hired over the next decade. A bald-faced lie, naturally: The Treasury Department has said that the money in the Inflation Reduction Act will be used mainly to hire customer service representatives, computer scientists, and to replace the 52,000 IRS employees who are scheduled to retire over the next six or seven years.

Only a small percentage of the new employees will be serving as IRS agents, but you won’t be hearing that from Marjorie Taylor Greene or any of her MAGA compatriots. They’re out there claiming they’re saving middle class Americans from being audited, when the truth is, none of the money appropriated for the IRS will be spent on enforcement of IRS rules on families making less than $400,000 a year. According to The Hill, IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, an appointee of Donald Trump, sent a letter to the Senate last August stating “that the funds from the legislation would be used to up examination of large corporations and high-net-worth individuals.”

But try finding that bothersome little detail escaping the lips of a Republican member of Congress.

The White House announced that President Biden woul veto the bill passed yesterday by the House if it somehow accidentally ends up on his desk: “With their first economic legislation of the new Congress, House Republicans are making clear that their top economic priority is to allow the rich and multi-billion dollar corporations to skip out on their taxes, while making life harder for ordinary, middle-class families that pay the taxes they owe.”

Meanwhile, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which analyzes any spending legislation with respect to its possible effect on the deficit, announced yesterday that, if it were to become law, the Republican bill would lead to increases in the deficit over the next decade of $114 billion by reducing tax revenue by an estimated $186 billion.

So, every time a Republican member of the House opens his or her mouth and starts yapping about the deficit, a reporter on Capitol Hill should ask them about the more than $100 billion they just advocated adding to the deficit.

If I were a Capitol Hill reporter, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for an answer, however. With a Democratic Senate and a Democrat in the Oval Office, exactly nothing the House passes on a party-line vote over the next two years will become law. Everything the Republican House says and does will be performative, from Jim Jordan’s Judiciary subcommittee that is supposed to investigate “the weaponization of the federal government” to any sort of tax cuts they might be contemplating. The 118th Congress won’t be about legislating and laws but rather about rhetoric, pure and simple.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.

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