Lawmakers Grapple Nagging Infrastructure Element: The right way to Pay for It

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Beyond the questionable economics of the measure is politics: Conservative groups backed by money interests and grassroots activists hover an old specter of puffed up federal agents who persecute innocent taxpayers.

The campaign to end the commission is led by a well-known figure, Mr. Norquist, whose network of conservative activists has worked for decades to cut taxes and strangle the IRS. Mr Norquist said Tuesday that his weekly Conservative meeting in Washington – a center of power during the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama – has grown when it went virtual during the pandemic.

The meeting has about 160 attendees, including members of Congress, and is complemented by 40 state-level activist meetings – all currently focused on the IRS.The pitch to Republican lawmakers is that increasing enforcement will not affect Fortune 100 companies that already have in-house tax auditors to ensure compliance, but small businesses in their states – such as restaurants, bars, hairdressers, nail salons, and food trucks – take cash for payment.

“We’re letting the elected officials know that this is how people will understand this in the future,” said Norquist.

Such threats have been well received.

“It bothers a lot of Republicans, and I want a lot of Republicans to vote for it,” said Senator Jerry Moran, Republican of Kansas, of the IRS ruling, “so I hope it can be modified, narrowed – or otherwise.”

But Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine and negotiator, said Tuesday night, “I don’t think we’ve lost anyone,” as she and her colleagues continued to work out details.

Limiting them or throwing them overboard could lead some Republicans to accept the argument that infrastructure investments are at least partially worthwhile through improving economic efficiency and competitiveness. Some lawmakers, Democrats in particular, have argued that spending on roads, bridges, tunnels, and transit is an investment in economic efficiency and does not need to be fully offset as it is partially self-paying, much like Republicans argue that tax cuts do pay off themselves .