Friday, October 16, 2020

Election 2020: The IRS, The USPS and the Responsible Voter

 

To Present and Future Voters,

It's Friday morning and with nothing better to do, I decided to contact the IRS. The decision was not as random as that sounds. With a missing stimulus payment and a set of April-mailed paper returns hanging out in Government-No-Man's-Land, there was a purpose in the phone call. Besides, what else is someone my age suppose to do while “STAYING SAFE AT HOME”? There is only so much you can clean, plant and bake as we all know.

AN EYE-OPENING CONVERSATION.

I had tried this before with little success, but today was different. Using a phone number from an old IRS notice, I reached a human being within a few minutes. The agent was pleasant and willing to do what he could to help me out. After a few good laughs about COVID-19, he basically said there was nothing he could do to move the process along, We continued to chat for a while and he provided some insight into life inside the IRS. For the first time in a long time, I came away with more understanding than frustration in regard to our chaotic government.

Certainly, I could go into more detail but a few of tidbits from our conversation are below:

  • IRS Processing Centers began closing in mid-March 2020 and did not start to reopen until early June.

  • At least one processing center received so many pieces of mail that it could not securely store all the returns. The assumption is that the struggling Post Office has securely handled the overload - keeping thousands of pieces of mail in its own facilities. (Hmm?*my reaction)

  • While some IRS Processing Centers have reopened and others continue to come online, only 50% of its workforce may be working as of early October.

  • Prior to COVID-19, normal IRS operations were estimated to be months (yes, he said monhs) behind due to budget cuts and government shutdowns. Every time the Federal Government shutdowns, employees cannot even enter the building because of the sensitive nature of the information in side.  

  • The IRS website clearly states that aid for taxpayers is “limited” and “DO NOT CALL” if you have questions about any mailed returns.

  • The country is two and a half months away from the beginning of a new tax year with MILLIONS of 2020 tax returns yet to be processed.

WHY AM I WRITING?

At this point, I have rewritten this part a half dozen times or more. Being a school board representative for six years was a hard lesson in handling political discussion - like dynamite - one mistake and you have an explosion. I want to be clear – I am not here to tell you WHO to vote for. My only purpose is to provide a perspective about government that few people understand – that is – unless they have served as an elected official.

By design, the power of those who are elected is limited. Simply put, their role is to provide direction for government and to supply the funding for its functions.  THAT'S ALL. It should be mentioned here that actual spending is the responsibility of each agency. Funding without direction and direction without funding are two sides of the same poor leadership coin. In my mind its like losing weight. Reducing calories alone without good planning and understanding can jeopardize your health as much as weighing too much cam. The anorexic person can never cut calories enough and the obese one can never satisfy their hunger.  Government is the same. As a voter, you are responsible for seeing that you elect someone who will provide a healthy balance between funding and purpose.  That is your function in a representative democracy.


On August 22, 2020, Congressman Ben Cline (R. Virginia) voted against H.R. 8015 supporting increased funding for the U.S. Postal Service. Even though the bill passed with bipartisan support, it was largely a symbolic gesture and was not acted on by the Senate - being tabled until after Nov. 3rd. But, what could a lack of USPS funding actually mean for this district?


To take it a step further, if Congress cannot determine how money is spent, it can also not determine how it is saved. Certainly, budget cuts could come from salary reductions for upper management who may have never handled a letter, but they could also mean the loss of mail carrier jobs locally. It could mean the end of expensive travel and conference trips or it could mean that carriers have 5 hours to cover a route that normally takes 6.  As expenditures go, it could mean salary increases for mail carriers and sorting staff or it could mean a few thousands spend on public relations campaigns to make citizen think everything is good when actually it isn't.

So, if I am not trying to tell you who to vote for, what am I trying to do?

The goal here is understanding how your vote impacts what type of government we have in January 2021. Here's a few things to consider.

  1. Voting for tax cuts does not make our government more efficient or cheaper. Instead it often leads to raiding its funds for other services - like the IRS and USPS.  It can also mean borrowing money from other countries or syphoning off savings in Social Security. In the end, every day taxpayers pay more in lost services and increased fees for the services they do have.

  2. Voting for a "Party Loyal" candidate is where government gridlock begins. Do you 'always' vote red/blue? 

  3. Voting for a "Can't Let Them Win" candidate divides a community. Compromise is an important and necessary skill for any elected official.  Us vs. Them attitudes divide people and allow special interest groups to gain power.  Moderation may not be interesting but it is effective.

Well, I guess that is all I can say about this.  Thank you very much for taking the time to read this point of view. I can only hope you have found something useful in it. 

 
Sarah Schrumpf-Deacon
 Former School Board Member
Proud USPS Patron
Very Frustration US Taxpayer

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