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Old Gold & Black

'Covers the campus like the magnolias'
"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

The fallacy of the Republican Party’s law and order politics

The Republican Party’s actions do not embody the principles of justice they claim to champion
Although+the+validity+of+that+characterization+of+our+present+times+depends+on+one%E2%80%99s+metrics%2C+it+is+undeniably+false+that+the+Republican+Party+is+universally+committed+to+the+equal+application+of+criminal+justice.
Maryam Khanum
“Although the validity of that characterization of our present times depends on one’s metrics, it is undeniably false that the Republican Party is universally committed to the equal application of criminal justice.”

Dating back to George H.W. Bush’s infamous 1988 racist “Willie Horton”’ attack ad, throughout the Black Lives Matter movement and then the subsequent rise of the progressive prosecutor trend, the American right has proudly and historically claimed to be the party of “law and order.” 

Republicans have reinforced their image as a party committed to the return to normalcy in times of rampant criminality, which they claim is facilitated by Democrats. Although the validity of that characterization of our present times depends on one’s metrics, it is undeniably false that the Republican Party is universally committed to the equal application of criminal justice. 

Admittedly, the modern progressive conception of criminal justice has its limits. However, there is simultaneously a comprehensive failure within the Republican ranks to apply “law and order” irrespective of who is breaking the law. Currently, the Republican Party reads like a sad bunch of apologists for the rich and powerful Americans who habitually break laws without fear of retribution.

The politics of IRS funding

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It is exceedingly difficult under normal circumstances for the IRS to audit and prosecute multinational, billion-dollar companies run by ultra-wealthy owners. These organizations and the individuals who make them up have every incentive to utilize quasi-legal mechanisms to avoid paying taxes they rightfully owe. It is even harder to do so when the IRS is perennially underfunded and understaffed. 

As the popular saying goes, you need money to make money. The IRS is no exception. Fortunately, President Biden’s landmark Inflation Reduction Act included 80 billion dollars in IRS funding$45 billion of which was dedicated to enforcement of existing tax laws. If the Treasury follows its promise of only raising audit rates on those who make $400,000 or more per year, the IRS will smartly be prioritizing audits with the highest returns on investment instead of going after “honest, middle-class taxpayers.” 

The effects could be enormous if realized. Tax criminals have deprived the government of nearly seven trillion dollars over a decade. This is money that could be, and should be, equitably distributed to those who need it most instead of sitting hidden away in Bermudan bank accounts

Moreover, these missing funds, if recuperated, would make a significant dent in chipping away at our ever-growing national debt, a perennial Republican priority. Over a decade, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that increased audits would bring in $200 billion in additional revenues over a decade. Even so, this number is likely a vast underestimate, according to Catherine Rampell at the Washington Post, who found future deterrent effects of increased audits have three times the impact of the audits themselves. 

This is money that could be, and should be, equitably distributed to those who need it most instead of sitting hidden away in Bermudan bank accounts. 

The U.S. government is sitting on a potential revenue windfall of $60 billion dollars a year from people and businesses that have not followed U.S. laws. These criminals, however, are not being systematically persecuted and imprisoned. Their friends in the GOP have successfully lobbied for mass cuts to the very funding that would put criminals in jail and lower the federal debt.

Republican IRS funding cuts are “bad news for the millions of American households who pay their taxes honestly,” Vanesssa Williamson of the Brookings Foundation writes, while constituting “great news for the country’s richest tax evaders.” 

The elites of society have benefited substantially from the United States’ inability to make them pay their fair share, and Republicans’ actions ensure they will continue to do so, despite their ostensible “law and order” stance. 

Republicans say they are the “tough on crime” party, but it would seem to only extend to violent crime perpetrated by minorities. They are notably soft on crimes that are overwhelmingly committed by a very small, very wealthy, very white part of the population

Their hypocrisy is notable, too. “House Republicans cut IRS funding $1.1 billion below a freeze, taking essentially the entire amount from tax enforcement,” the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities writes. “Such funding cuts do not ‘save’ money but would instead do the opposite: they would hamper the agency’s efforts to restore its under-resourced capacity to audit the complex returns of wealthy tax cheats.”

Donald Trump and criminal behavior

If the GOP’s love affair with wealthy criminals was not yet clear and obvious, they are now rallying again behind a man whose organization was not only convicted for 17 tax crimes but who personally has been criminally charged 91 times for the presidency of this great nation. 

Donald Trump is the ultimate fraudster. Shady businessmen and corrupt politicians look to him for moral guidance. He has attempted to and nearly succeeded at subverting our political system for personal gain. His respect for norms and laws is borderline nonexistent. And he has recently argued in court that the rule of law simply does not apply to him because he has total immunity from all crimes as President, espousing a radical right-wing legal theory. 

This is not a man who cares deeply about equal, universal application of the law. Nor is the Republican Party serious about law and order as a guiding principle; their denial of the reality of the Jan. 6 insurrection in which seven people died and 140 police officers were injured proves the GOP will excuse violent crime, too, when it is committed by their supporters. 

If progressive Democrats incentivize criminality by refusing to punish low-level criminal behavior and conservative Republicans oppose holding the rich and powerful accountable to the law, neither is taking the steps necessary to ensure justice is applied fairly to all that break the social contract.

Despite his law and order rhetoric, it was Trump himself who encouraged such violence

If the modern GOP had a backbone, they would have rejected Donald Trump as the presumptive 2024 nominee. Yet they do not, and as such, have not. 

Instead, they have embraced Trump, the embodiment of a corrupted presidency and person. They have championed such contradictions, much like their own opposition to the IRS, and made it their platform.

As Trump once said, “We must maintain law and order at the highest level.” 

Law and order politics only work when it can be and is separated from its racialized and classist connotations. When it is applied without discrimination and bias, society benefits. The modern GOP continues to insist that it espouses these principles, but why should anyone believe them? 

Fully funding IRS enforcement reduces government debts and catches tax criminals. On the surface, it appears to be the perfect conservative policy position for a law-and-order-oriented GOP. 

Following that theme, wherever it takes the party, naturally lends itself to a clean break from Donald Trump and towards a new, more (relatively) agreeable Republican Party. Yet, there is little enthusiasm for such a course within the conservative ranks. 

This country should not accept politicians and parties who abandon their principles with such little resistance. Yet neither party has stepped up to the task, which bodes poorly for the future of our republic. If progressive Democrats incentivize criminality by refusing to punish low-level criminal behavior and conservative Republicans oppose holding the rich and powerful accountable to the law, neither is taking the steps necessary to ensure justice is applied fairly to all that break the social contract.

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    Raylan GivensFeb 13, 2024 at 8:14 pm

    I wonder if Jacob Graff really would be capable of writing an honest column if he wasn’t so liberally biased.
    He writes like he knows exactly who’s to blame for the last three years of degradation within our magnificent country.
    There’s only one answer.
    It’s not a political party, but members of a particular party “aka” enemies of the United States.
    When you have a president and a party majority in the Senate that goes out of their way to do anything that is detrimental for our citizens and country.
    Reporters like Jacob Graff have no idea what a privilege he has here that he would be executed for anywhere else in this world.
    It doesn’t take an intelligent person to see through Graff’s intended result; that is to assist as best as he possibly can to take down this country and freedoms he and we now live bye.

    Reply