The Book on Government Pork

As the income tax filing deadline approaches, the news is full of stories about how our money is taken and spent.

Citizens Against Government Waste today announced the winners of the Oinkers — the silliest and worst examples of pork barrel spending from ’s Pig Book.

’s total reveals that Congress porked out at record levels. For , appropriators stuck 10,656 projects in the 13 appropriations bills, an increase of 13 percent over last year’s total of 9,362. In the last two years, the total number of projects has increased 28 percent. The cost of these projects in fiscal 2004 was $22.9 billion, or 1.6 percent more than last year’s total of $22.5 billion. In fact, the total cost of pork has increased by 14 percent . Total pork identified by Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) adds up to $185 billion.

That’s $185 billion that was stolen from you and me and given away to campaign contributors or spent lavishly on reelection-related program activities.

Bureaucrash — which is trying hard to be the hip face of free-market libertarianism — has released its Tax Slavery Sucks propaganda for this year.

IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson was interviewed by USA Today, and the interview is in ’s paper. Observe in this excerpt how Everson decries the degradation of ethics and fairness and the culture of greed and materialism that contributed to more people being unwilling to help the IRS take their money from them:

Q: You’ve noted that a survey showed that 11% of the public thought it was OK to cheat on taxes, and now that is up to 17%. What is the driving force behind this attitude?

A: It’s probably two things. One is a degradation of ethics with some practitioners. It was tied to this same spirit of what many called “the culture of greed and materialism” that developed during . But the IRS backed away from enforcing the law as this was happening. It’s a basic sense of fairness. Somebody out there is complying with the law, and they see others doing things, and over time, they feel like chumps. But we will change those attitudes.

Yesterday, IRS Inspector General Pamela Gardiner told a Senate subcommittee that taxpayers who go to IRS assistance centers to get help on their taxes often get bad advice:

Gardiner’s auditors re-examined 23 tax returns prepared by IRS employees at assistance centers nationwide and picked at random. Nineteen of them were done incorrectly, Gardiner told the Senate Subcommittee on Transportation, Treasury and General Government.…

According to Gardiner, IRS employees at 400 taxpayer assistance centers nationwide encountered 8.5 million taxpayers face-to-face last year. The problem: when IG auditors posing as taxpayers asked them to answer tax questions, the answers were right just 69 percent of the time.