Sunday, July 23, 2006

Enrichment program

Quite apart from the international fiascos Bush administration foreign policy has wrought, domestic "policy" continues to exhibit a breathtaking quality. Literally.

There is now pratically no feature of Bush domestic policy that evokes surprise anymore. While newly exposed manuevering still can cause shock and dismay, surprise is no longer on the table. And so it was with this little item, a small yet telling example of just whom, apart from blastocysts, the White House feels deserve "protection under the Constitution." About all I could muster at reading this was a sour cackle:
The federal government is moving to eliminate the jobs of nearly half of the lawyers at the Internal Revenue Service who audit tax returns of some of the wealthiest Americans, specifically those who are subject to gift and estate taxes when they transfer parts of their fortunes to their children and others.

The administration plans to cut the jobs of 157 of the agency’s 345 estate tax lawyers, plus 17 support personnel, in less than 70 days. Kevin Brown, an I.R.S. deputy commissioner, confirmed the cuts after The New York Times was given internal documents by people inside the I.R.S. who oppose them.

But six I.R.S. estate tax lawyers whose jobs are likely to be eliminated said in interviews that the cuts were just the latest moves behind the scenes at the I.R.S. to shield people with political connections and complex tax-avoidance devices from thorough audits.

Sharyn Phillips, a veteran I.R.S. estate tax lawyer in Manhattan, called the cuts a “back-door way for the Bush administration to achieve what it cannot get from Congress, which is repeal of the estate tax.”
Can't get Congress to fully repeal the estate tax? Well, just fire everyone who audits estate taxes; simple, quick, efficient. And it carries the added bonus that, despite Congress having marched 99% of Bush's agenda through anyway, there will be not the slightest hiccup from a few mildly meddlesome congress people mucking up the project for the increasing enrichment of the American aristocracy.


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