Jonathan Chait called my attention to something I had missed in Rand Paul’s new flat tax proposal that I discussed yesterday, Again With the Flat Tax! But as Chait pointed out, one of Paul’s reasons for his flat tax is to save us from the nefarious IRS, “We now know that the IRS, through political hacks like former IRS official Lois Lerner, routinely abused its auditing power to build an enemies list and harass anyone who might be adversarial to President Obama’s policies.” Chait responded that, first, a flat tax wouldn’t change the IRS’s ability to do this. And second, what Paul is saying is absolute nonsense: it never happened.
On the first point, this goes along with all this “Abolish the IRS” nonsense. People really think that if we have a flat tax or some other conservative wet dream, then there would be no need for a tax collector. There have been tax collectors since the beginning of civilization. But according to Rand Paul and company, if we just lower taxes enough, everyone will be glad to pay them. We know this isn’t true because throughout my entire lifetime, taxes on the rich have gone down and down and down. Yet the rich complain more about the taxes they pay now than they ever did. If they were required to pay no taxes at all, the rich would complain that they aren’t being given money because of all the “job creation” they do.
But I’m really struck by the fact that Rand Paul is using this tired old story about the IRS going after Obama’s enemies. There was never any indication of this. Even at the time. The idea that the IRS was going after conservative groups was simply the creation of the right wing echo chamber. Even since Nixon, Republicans have been desperately searching for a Democrat who has an “enemies list.” This is the conservative way: whatever they do must be done on the other side. Sadly, most of the media go right along with this — effectively enabling the bad behavior by the Republicans.
Sadly, I have little doubt that Rand Paul actually believes this nonsense. That’s the whole point of the right wing echo chamber: you never have to hear anything that disturbs you. So why doesn’t the left wing have a similarly sealed echo chamber? It is usually claimed this is because liberals are, well, liberal: they like to get a lot of different opinions. I don’t think that’s really it. I think the problem is that in the modern conservative movement, the ideas are so bad that the only way that they can be maintained by Rand Paul and company is for no counter arguments to ever be heard. How else do you continue on thinking that if only we give yet another tax break to millionaires then our economy will get a “steroid injection”?
But count on this: NBC News will not be reporting that Rand Paul is using patently false claims to justify his new tax scheme. No, it will all just be ignored. Because if there is one thing that the mainstream media know, it is that the Democrats must be doing the exact same thing. They just haven’t found it yet. But don’t worry: if they ever do, they will report on that!