There’s a catch here, however, and it’s the obvious and crooked one. The Republicans defused the Internal Revenue Service for years to block this type of auditing and oversight. The IRS has increasingly targeted lower-income Americans with audits and enforcement actions while investigations of the rich have declined. These exams, say criminal allies of the rich, are too difficult and time consuming because rich people have many lawyers. Poor people don’t have lawyers, so it makes sense to focus on the poor. And the rich and corporate have moved on to new tax evasion programs in the past few decades, which the IRS is much harder to track at first.
To really start pursuing rampant tax fraud among attorneys, the IRS needs money back to handle these more complex cases and the Republicans have again blocked this. Republicans aren’t stupid – or, to be clear, the lobbyists who write Republican-backed bills aren’t stupid and haven’t missed many tricks to exempt America’s wealthy from paying the same tax rates as either their wealthy parents or their poorest gardeners have paid. The result is an upper class that lives bold and happy even through a recession and a world-shattering pandemic, an upper class that even misfortune cannot displace, especially with financial deals that look very much like Trump’s own.
A non-Republican government could instruct the IRS to pay more attention to partnerships, suburban companies, and similar means of tax evasion, but this would be considered an act of war. The nation’s rich would band together to sabotage the IRS efforts by any means necessary, from individual jurisdiction in any case to new dark money groups aimed at making so-called “populist” declarations against paying taxes at all stir up.
At the heart of the problem is that the American upper class is awash with financial crime as a way of life. It is expected and celebrated. It is viewed as wisdom by the plastic classes that go through Mar-a-Lago. The Occupy movement had pronounced them dead but could not take action against a government that was too keen to cooperate with its own saboteurs.
Appeals to decency or patriotism never worked. Enforcing the laws that are already on the books is the way to end this runaway crime, Republicans say. Imagine tens of thousands of Donald Trumps screeching like stuck pigs at the news that their tax returns are under review. Imagine a good chunk of those who go Trump’s own way and declare that if it is the nation compared to his own paperback, it is the nation that must go under.
Russia does not appear to be the most powerful nation under the thumb of an inherently criminal class.