Thursday, April 16, 2015

27 Dems Join Republicans in Scapegoating Federal Workers on Tax Day.

In honor of Tax Day, Congress decided to pass some tax-themed bills yesterday. I would like to highlight one of them, the so-called "Federal Employee Tax Accountability Act of 2015."

This bill would prohibit anyone with tax delinquencies from working for the federal government.
Here is how its sponsor, Jason Chaffetz (UT-03), talks about his bill:
"We can make sure we get the best federal employees, but weed out the bad apples. I want to see people on both sides of the aisle say, let's pat the backs of the overwhelming majority of patriotic, hardworking, dedicated employees, but we're going to get rid of the bad apples," Chaffetz said.
As it's clear to see from his rhetoric, this bill is not so much about accountability as it is about tarnishing the image of federal workers and, of course, government in general. 
According to The Hill in the article linked above, the tax delinquency rate among federal employees last year was 3.1%, less than half that of the general public (8.7%).

Moreover, if someone is delinquent on taxes, firing them is counterproductive. It is easier to collect back taxes from someone who makes money than it is from someone who doesn't.

The Democratic leadership urged a NO on this bill.

Democrats laid out their reasons why:
But Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), whose Northern Virginia district includes thousands of federal workers working in or near Washington, D.C., said the bill unfairly targeted civil servants.
"We must hold our civil servants to the highest standards. They have just as much an obligation as anyone else to responsibly pay their taxes on time and in full. But this legislation exaggerates the issue and then scapegoats the federal workforce," Beyer said in a statement.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who also has a large group of federal workers in his district, said the bill seemed meant to appease people who are dissatisfied with government as a whole.

"What is this all about? This is about frankly saying government is bad and the people who work for it aren't so hot either," Hoyer said.
Since the bill was called up under suspension (and thus needed a 2/3 majority for passage), the 266 to 160 wasn't enough for it to pass. 
But what's important here is how members voted.

Three Republicans--Barbara Comstock (VA-10), David Jolly (FL-13), and Tom Reed (NY-23)--voted against it. Comstock represents the DC exurbs and thus has a large population of federal workers in her district.

And 27 Democrats voted for it:

Pete Aguilar (CA-31)
Brad Ashford (NE-02)
Ami Bera (CA-07)
Julia Brownley (CA-26)
Lois Capps (CA-24)
Jim Cooper (TN-05)
Jim Costa (CA-16)
Henry Cuellar (TX-28)
Suzan DelBene (WA-01)
Elizabeth Esty (CT-05)
Gwen Graham (FL-02)
Denny Heck (WA-10)
Jim Himes (CT-04)
Derek Kilmer (WA-06)
Ron Kind (WI-03)
Anne McLane Kuster (NH-02)
Dan Lipinski (IL-03)
Carolyn Maloney (NY-14)
Sean Maloney (NY-18)
Jerry McNerney (CA-09)
Seth Moulton (MA-06)
Scott Peters (CA-52)
Jared Polis (CO-02)
Mike Quigley (IL-05)
Kathleen Rice (NY-04)
Tim Ryan (OH-13)
Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09)

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