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Monday, April 3, 2017

Mnuchin Wants to Feed the Slimiest Creature in the Entire Swamp

If Trump was ever truly serious about "draining the swamp," he certainly would have never nominated Steven Mnuchin as Treasury Secretary.

Tax Day is only a few weeks away, which means it’s that time of the year when the country actually stands united in its hatred of governmental theft for a few weeks, before retreating back to their ideological corners to commence political warfare as usual.

Loathing the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is not an exclusive to libertarians and limited government activists. In fact, the IRS is probably the most hated government agency of them all. And given the long list of disreputable options to choose from, garnering that title is extremely impressive.

For Mnuchin, making America great again means making the IRS even bigger.

Unfortunately for the prospects of tax relief, President Donald Trump, the newly elected “man of the people” who vowed to drain the proverbial swamp of all corruption upon taking up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, nominated a Treasury Secretary who wants to make that swamp a little wider.


Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who was confirmed earlier last month, has expressed some disturbing views when it comes to his long-term vision for the IRS; needless to say, abolition of the agency is definitely not part of his plan.

For Mnuchin, making America great again means making the IRS even bigger than it already is—every American’s worst nightmare.

Thankfully, since 2010, numerous federal budget cuts have prevented nearly $1 billion dollars from reaching the IRS. But Mnuchin would like to change that, and he believes he can with “a very quick conversation with Donald Trump.”

Referring to the agency as “understaffed” and “under-resourced,” Mnuchin even went as far as to argue that the IRS should be exempt from Trump’s hiring freeze.

During his confirmation hearing, Mnuchin remarked:

“Perhaps, the IRS just started with way too many people, but I am concerned about the staffing of the IRS. That is an important part of fixing the tax gap.”

It’s hard to argue with Mnuchin on his first point, since even one IRS employee is too many to begin with, but this blatant support for this oppressive institution is sure to have been received with shock by many Trump supporters.

Many of Donald Trump’s most vocal fans were previously active participants in the Tea Party movement which, of course stood for, Taxed Enough Already. It’s hard to imagine these same people continuing to throw their support behind a president who nominated a Treasury Secretary who wants to expand their primary adversary. But in the era of “President Trump,” fact seems to always be stranger than fiction.

When Mnuchin speaks of the “tax gap,” this is in reference to the amount of would-be tax dollars that are never received by the state from Americans who manage to evade paying their taxes each year.

Unfortunately the government offers no real commodity that hasn’t been funded by force.

It appears that Mnuchin thinks it is a good idea to send more government agents after more people at a time when trust in the United States government is already at an all time low.

Unfortunately, no matter what side of the political aisle you like to call home, every government entity needs funds to survive and it gets those funds by unjustly taxing its people. The Tump administration will be no different and, given Mnuchin’s ambitions for the future, could actually prove to be worse than before.

Make Taxation Easy Again

Mnuchin is of the belief that if given additional financial resources, the IRS can turn filing yearly taxes into a convenient task that can easily be done online, just like any other modern service.

Of course, given the IRS’s abysmal track record when it comes to cyber security threats and protecting the American people’s private data, there is an absence of confidence that this can be actually done without major breaches in confidential information.

While each one of Mnuchin’s comments is more frightening than the last, nothing demonstrates his lack of economic understanding quite like the following:

“There should be simple ways that the IRS can interact with the American taxpayers. If you can get good service in the retail online business, there is no reason why we can’t use that same type of technology for taxpayers to communicate.”

Mnuchin’s comment is clueless for the obvious reason that the IRS will never have the same relationship with the American people as would a retailer, quite simply because the retailer is not using force as a means of acquiring business.

Unless some evil political genius manages to subvert all taxpayers into a Huxley-esque universe where we are drugged into believing we love and respect our oppressors, there will always be Americans who disagree with government taxation. Without consent, you will never build the trust that comes with a truly voluntary exchange.

Even the slimiest creatures in the swamp steer clear of the IRS.

When a consumer chooses to visit with the explicit intention of purchasing a product or service, they do so voluntarily. As a result, the consumer gets the product they desire in exchange for compensating Amazon. Every player is acting according to their own will and each benefits.

Unfortunately the government offers no real commodity aside from programs funded by the redistribution of wealth and thus, force. So whether a taxpayer chooses to use a local H&R Block or instead files their taxes online, neither option is being done voluntarily. There is no commodity being offered in exchange for compensation. The only real benefit to the taxpayer is the promise that compliance will you keep them out of prison.

Even the slimiest creatures in the swamp steer clear of the IRS, and yet Trump has not only avoided draining this particular area altogether, he is actually giving it more room to grow.

  • Brittany is a writer for the Pacific Legal Foundation. She is a co-host of “The Way The World Works,” a Tuttle Twins podcast for families.