As Delayed Tax Day Approaches, Consider What You Get for Your Money

Do you appreciate the incompetence, in-fighting, obstructionism, authoritarianism, and waste that you pay for?


Flattening the curve on COVID-19 has meant flattening the curve on tax season, too, pushing everything down the line a bit so that the final day to hand over the government's cut of our hard-earned income comes up on July 15. That's given us an unparalleled opportunity in a time of crisis to assess what we're getting for our money. Amidst the smoking ruins of 2020, it's understandable if you regret every penny you've ever surrendered to a tax collector.

The year 2020 should stand forever as evidence that, rather than a solution, government is often a cup of gasoline just waiting to be thrown on a fire. The spark this time was a tiny, but deadly, virus.

From the beginning, President Trump minimized the danger posed by COVID-19 even as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—agencies of the federal government over which he presides—fumbled developing a test for the disease and kneecapped academic, commercial, and hospital efforts that could do better. The FDA only belatedly eased rules standing in the way of expanding the supply of ventilators, masks, hand sanitizer, and other supplies.

When companies found it challenging to navigate the ever-shifting regulatory landscape, the president invoked the Defense Production Act to force them to produce what the government wanted, when it was wanted.

To add to the fun, the CDC kept Americans entertained with contradictory advice as to whether or not wearing masks could be helpful.

Taking the chaos in D.C. as a challenge to their own abilities at confusing and dismaying the public, state governors feuded with the Trump administration as well as with local officials who were busy baffling us with their own efforts.

Perhaps the CDC's test-fumbling was seen as insufficiently deadly; governors of some states, including New Jersey and New York, required nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients against all advice. Such facilities have accounted for about 40 percent of all U.S. deaths during the pandemic.

In the name of delaying the spread of COVID-19, states and localities issued draconian and arbitrary shutdown rules that closed businesses, choked-off travel, interrupted personal relationships, and threatened many people with economic ruin and despair. To make it worse, some of the governors issuing them promptly ignored or gamed their own rules.

That this has been to questionable benefit should go without saying—we're seeing a new round of mandated closures now, after Americans' patience and limited ability to weather orders that shut businesses and kill jobs is greatly eroded. In fact, by the end of May, Americans were unemployed, aggravated, at wit's end and ready to explode.

Despite spending years fueling conflict between police and the public, and then confining the population to stew at home over health concerns and the prospect of unpaid bills and poverty, officials seemed astonished that the country erupted in anger at the latest law-enforcement outrage.

"Police abuse remains a problem that needs to be addressed by policymakers and police professionals," the federal government's National Institute of Justice warned in 2000.

Twenty years later, with little done to address the issue and lots of time and frustration on their hands, Americans marched, protested, and some also rioted. The killing of George Floyd, mistreatment of African-Americans, and anger at police brutality in general, sent people into the streets to demand change—in forms good, bad, indifferent, and undefined.

How that change will shake out is anybody's guess; as with the pandemic, Republicans and Democrats have turned dealing with police reform and racism into new excuses for political point-scoring. Will officials back enforcers to the hilt, go with tearing down random statues misunderstood by the mob, or make the difficult effort to rein-in their own out-of-control enforcers? Hang on while political professionals wet their fingers and hold them in the air.

What is clear is that this turmoil has a big price tag, which will probably generate more turmoil. As of June 26, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta projects a 39.5 percent decline in GDP for the second quarter.

For the year overall, the Federal Reserve Bank's projection of a 6.5 percent decline in GDP is actually optimistic compared to the roughly 8 percent drops predicted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

"The COVID-19 pandemic pushed economies into a Great Lockdown, which helped contain the virus and save lives, but also triggered the worst recession since the Great Depression," writes Gita Gopinath, director of the IMF's research department.

The U.S. government tried to offset the economic fallout of the pandemic and of the lockdown orders, but it did so very badly. Of the money paid out to alleviate the pain, $1.4 billion went to dead people who are already well beyond the reach of stimulus efforts, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

The checks that went to living recipients didn't do much more good.

"Stimulus checks increase spending particularly among low-income households, but very little of the additional spending flows to the businesses most affected by the COVID shock; and loans to small businesses have little impact on employment rates," concludes a paper from a Harvard University economic research team published earlier this month.

For all of this, we'll be paying over the course of many years to come.

The Congressional Budget Office "projects that over the 11-year horizon, cumulative real output (in 2019 dollars) will be $7.9 trillion, or 3.0 percent of cumulative real GDP, less than what the agency projected in January." That is, America over the next decade is expected to be a poorer place than it was on track to be. That's not entirely because of matters under human control—COVID-19 is a creation of nature—but human government officials played an enormous role in creating the conditions in which we find ourselves.

So we're getting quite a lot for our money. Whether all of that incompetence, in-fighting, obstructionism, authoritarianism, and waste is worth what we're paying is a matter for each of us to decide. We'll have time to contemplate the return on our investment as we await the arrival of this year's tax day, and to consider if we're happy with what we're getting for our money.

NEXT: Police Departments Asked Live PD To Cut Footage That Made Cops Look Bad

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  1. “The spark this time was a tiny, but deadly, virus.”
    Fact check:
    The Communist Chinese Virus referred to as COVID-19 is less deadly than hundreds of other illnesses.

    1. *ugh*
      You Boomers have terrible nicknames for COVID-19. Cools kids call it “Kung Flu”, “Shanghai Shivers”, or “Caojing Cough”.

      1. “Gooback Gonorreah” is catchy.

        It’s all those other folks fault.

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  2. “To add to the fun, the CDC kept Americans entertained with contradictory advice as to whether or not wearing masks could be helpful.”

    1. “If you are sick,” the CDC says, “you should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office.” But “if you are NOT sick,” it adds, “you do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask).
    2. A randomized trial of face masks involving about 7,700 hajj participants in Mecca had less promising results. At the end of the study, which was reported in The Lancet last year, the subjects who received masks—most of whom used them intermittently or not at all—were just as likely to have viral respiratory infections as those who did not. Last year was 2019; most people in C19 panicked 2020 wear their mask intermittently, or just plain wrong like over their mouth only, or hanging around their neck.
    3. New England Journal of Medicine 5/21/2020
    We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection. Public health authorities define a significant exposure to Covid-19 as face-to-face contact within 6 feet with a patient with symptomatic Covid-19 that is sustained for at least a few minutes (and some say more than 10 minutes or even 30 minutes). The chance of catching Covid-19 from a passing interaction in a public space is therefore minimal. In many cases, the desire for widespread masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic.

    The CDC bit above was before politics; now this is the new gospel:
    Oddly enough, for the real flu;
    Unvaccinated Asymptomatic Persons, Including Those at High Risk for Influenza Complications
    “No recommendation can be made at this time for mask use in the community by asymptomatic persons, including those at high risk for complications, to prevent exposure to influenza viruses”
    But for the magical COVID;
    “In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
    Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.
    The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.”

    So “cloth face coverings” (note: not called masks) are a voluntary option where anti-social distancing is NOT feasible, per the CDC. Yet every fascist issuing an emergency order quotes them as REQUIRED.

      1. Hey remember when you posted this single cherry picked piece of shit study earlier and I shoved it up your braindead asshole?

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      2. De Oppresso Liber
        July.1.2020 at 3:09 pm

        You pathetic piece of lefty shit, you aren’t intelligent enough to be embarrassed.
        From your link:
        “…mask use by well people could be beneficial…”
        “…masks may be more protective…”
        “…some cloth masks may not be safe for healthcare workers…”

      3. Laughable. You are a gullible fool.

    1. What if we could get the CDC to recommend plastic face covers? At least 3 layers, wrapped tightly over nose and mouth.

  3. “The checks that went to living recipients didn’t do much more good.”

    Where were we supposed to go spend all the free money? All the stores got closed down. No travel, no cruises, no bar hopping, no dining out. Nothing open but pharmacies and grocery stores out of paper products.

  4. As a member of Kiryas Joel, I am thankful for America’s generous welfare programs, state and federal. Thank you for the hard work!

  5. What do I get for my money? I get to keep my property and stay out of jail.

    1. *most of my property

  6. America thanks Donald J Trump for a record $3 trillion in new handouts via his Trump Reelection Welfare Act of 2020. No President has ever handed out more faster than that!

    (Personally I despise the motherfucker because my taxes will have to go up to pay for this shit)

    1. Please keep driving home this point, Mr. Buttplug. It’s important to stress that a 2020 #BlueWave — with Biden as President and Democratic majorities in the House and Senate — will return us to fiscal responsibility.

      1. Democrats at least balance the budget. I’d rather tax and spend than debt and spend.

        I’d really rather not tax and not spend, but no one is offering that.

        1. Democrats at least balance the budget.

          The last time the budget was balanced was FY 1999 when Republicans controlled both houses of congress. Prior to that the budget had not been balanced since the early 1960s. Barack Obama with a Democratic majority in congress doubled the federal public debt from the already-elevated wartime level it was during the Bush administration. Higher tax rates do not lead to higher tax receipts. In fact, the federal government collected more in tax revenue in the last fiscal year than any other point in American history.

          Btw, quit socking. You can still be a piece of shit lying cunt, just do it under your main account. You’ve outed yourself 50 times already.

          1. The Omnibus of 1993 put the country on a path to a surplus and ZERO Republicans voted for it. Clinton had to use a Dem House to get it passed.

            And Obama inherited a $1.2 Trillion deficit and cut it down to less than $500 billion as a gift to the Dorard – who promptly has run it up to an astounding $4 trillion in 2020.

            Now fuck off you stupid Trump trash redneck. Your lesson is over for today.

            1. There was never a surplus. You were lied to and believed it.

              Also Obama was against raising the budget ceiling as a Senator and flip flopped as President. So that makes him a liar.

              Essentially you just praised an adulterer and rapist like Clinton and a fraud like Obama.

              Enjoy your cognitive dissonance.

              1. “…You were lied to and believed it.”

                turd is so fucking stupid, no one even has to lie to him.

            2. Haha. Yeah. The great O “reduced the deficit” from an emergency stimulus and bailout loaded budget year to a little more than it was the year before the crisis.

              And this is an accomplishment to you?

            3. Bullshit. Clinton NEVER provided a roadmap to balance the budget (and he never did). The only roadmap provided came from the Contract with America and the GOP takeover of the house. Obama doubled the debt in his 8 years of office. The deficit temporarily fell as the economy underwent the worst recovery in post-war history but it rose the last 2 fiscal years of his term. So much for your deficit control.

              2017 – $665 billion budget deficit
              2016 – $585 billion budget deficit

        2. Haha. Yeah. If only those rich bastards were paying more money to these corrupt assholes things would be way better!

        3. When? The last time the US actually had a balanced budget, actually a surplus, was 1957. Remind me which party controlled the WH then. Hint: it wasn’t your tax and spend pals.

          I’d rather tax and spend than debt and spend.

          A remarkably stupid statement. It has nothing to do with the taxation and everything to do with the spending. An actual libertarian would understand that.

        4. “…Democrats at least balance the budget…”

          Are you the new OBL parody account? Or just abysmally stupid?

    2. Yeah, I’m sure a democrat would have spent far less lol

      1. I voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 for several reasons. Fiscal restraint was of course one of them.


      2. They didn’t though.

        Bush and Trump – the two biggest deficit spenders in history. That’s a fact. Not funny but a fact.

        1. Presidents don’t set the budget. But let’s pretend they did so that we can point out that Obama spent more than every single president, including George W. Bush, in US history COMBINED.

        2. Obama literally added more to the debt than Bush. About twice as much. I know that you can’t count above five, but that doesn’t change the actual facts.

      3. They would have run a smaller deficit, that is for sure. Trump’s pre covid deficits were already much larger than what Obama left him with. Trump has been known as the king of debt for quite a while.

        1. I guess when Trump goes back to trillion dollar deficits next year he can claim to have reduced the deficit by the largest amount in American history just like Obama did when he reduced his 1.3 trillion record-setting deficits in his first 3 years in office to a paltry 600 billion by the time he left office. Due entirely to Republican sequestration btw. You know you’d have an easier time socking if you didn’t post the exact same line-for-line talking points on all of your accounts you retarded fucking faggot pedophile.

          1. The Bushpigs left that $1.3 trillion deficit and an economic meltdown you dumbass Trump trash goat fucker.

            1. >>Bushpigs

              hasn’t made sense for 19 years. doesn’t roll, doesn’t illustrate …

        2. “They would have run a smaller deficit, that is for sure.”

          Are you the new OBL parody account, or just abysmally stupid?

    3. NOW you care about the budget?!? *eyeroll*

      1. Now? I’ve complained about massive spending and big deficits on this site since the Bush years.

        Stossell wrote a column here about how Bush took federal spending from $1.8 trillion to $3.5 trillion.

        It stayed relatively stable during Obama’s two terms at around $4 trillion and now The Con Man is breaking records.

        1. So GOP deficits bad but Democrat deficits good?

          1. I think the point was “stable” – running $4T per yr deficit….. It’s not like Obama spend little then a lot… He “stable”-ly spend A LOT ALL THE TIME…. 🙂 Well actually truth is the R-Party severely slowed his spending in his second term. But the D-Party is propping up extra spending for Trump to sign onto…. 🙂 Heck 80% of the provisions of the CARES Act was D-Party Pitched.

          2. Bush/Trump tripling the deficit bad – Obama/Clinton cutting it in half good.

            If you need bad/good simplicity.

            1. Obama doubling the debt bad – Bush/Trump not doubling the debt good. Your yearly figure of “deficit” and cherry-picking the year doesn’t mean squat in the grand-total of debt. When you see Trump go from $20T to $40T debt in two terms then and only then is he as bad as Obama was. And as stated before; that even takes into account Obama’s spending brakes put on by the R-Party on his second term. (Which is probably the cherry-picked year of deficit your propaganda filled liberal rag is using).

              1. The cumulative debt does not reflect the effort to correct huge deficits.

                Obama cut the Trillion $ deficit he inherited in half via economic recovery, a higher top end tax rate, the Budget Act of 2011 which he negotiated with Boehner, and fully paying for the one new program he created (ACA).

                The GOP just spends like drunken sailors with no regard to paying for their programs starting with NCLB, the Medicare Welfare Prescription Act, the Iraq War, and the Dotard Trump Welfare Act of 2020.

                1. I’m on board if you want to rail against deficit spending (regardless who sits in the White House), but if you think the ACA is budget-neutral then I know you’re not being sincere. No one here with a lick of sense is going to buy the snake oil that the ACA is anything but a budget buster.

                2. Right… and Trump already paid for the CARES Act by Tarriffs.

                  As Atlas Slugged perfectly stated. No one’s buying either cases of “snake oil” short of gangster-party affiliates… 🙂

                3. Social Security

                  All of those are team blue core competencies. And Nancy wanted to spend trillions more to bail out local governments and make sure your welfare checks keep arriving.

              2. You have hit on the only way we have been able to slow spending in recent years. A democratic President with Republicans controlling at least one house of Congress. Republicans will act as deficit hawks but only when they are confronted by a President of the opposite party.

    4. Haha. Yeah. That’s what they said 10 years ago. Let us know when that happens.

  7. i got money back so lol.

  8. If I get any extra money from this fake COV-19 virus, I’m going to spend it on a Dillon Aero M134D minigun and mount it on my car.
    I’ll be the talk of the town and the envy of everyone at the gun range.

  9. I don’t know which country J. D. Tuccille is writing about, but I suspect this is what went down in the Reason newsroom:

    “Tuccille! Write ‘gubbermint bad, my muny good! 666 times!”

    I mean, seriously. The mass media in the real world has been alarmed by the strange goings-on at the CDC for several months now, and has consequently been investigating how deftly the current mis-administration has de-fanged it and politicized it to the point that, yes, people have been muzzled and some advice has been Pollyannaish. Politicization, not “the gubbermint”.

    After all, your dear leader and cult leader does not want information getting out that contradicts his “if we don’t test, we don’t have the disease any more” or other stable genius proclamations. That’s not the government’s fault; that’s his fault. Blame him. Leave the government out of it.

    This is a horrid time to have a lousy government, but that’s what the libertarian fruitcakes want: displays that the government is inept and unworkable. Cop to it. That’s what you’ve wanted, some way to demonstrate you’ve been correct so the US can join all the thousands upon thousands of far-more-successful libertarian fruitcake style governments in the world that are so outproducing us that it’s just a shame.

    Wait! There aren’t any of those! What happened? Did the fruitcake delusion that, once government gets out of the way, a new age of paradise and an Arby’s on every corner, not work out? Join the Marxists and their Disneyland dreams.

    Leave my country alone.

  10. Some Americans want the government to provide everything, and pin the tax bill mostly on others. (To be fair, some communist Americans want the government to confiscate all property and income.). This costs a huge amount of money.

    Some other Americans want the government to do very little. Even when true, this somehow still costs a huge amount of money.

    Are there any Americans that want the government not to spend a lot of money?

    1. Yup.

      1. Yet Reason continues to advocate for the unchecked invasion of all the world’s poor. Which adds to the burden on taxpayers and results in more government, more government programs, and more government employees.
        Yeah, millions of landscapers and dishwashers are going to save the economy. smfh

    2. I am not sure the problem is not wanting to spend money. The problem is people want money spent on things they value and not on things they don’t value. Since we cannot agree on what is of value we often end up spending on everything. Like it or not slowing spending depend on cooperation and making trade offs. You cannot do that if you refuse to work with your opposition.

      1. Working with your opposition is exactly how we get run away spending.

        “Logrolling” is literally high school civics.

  11. Government interventions suffer in comparison with charities in terms of efficacy, efficiency, morality, and cannot provide the individual satisfaction and growth to both givers and receivers that do charities.

    “Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”
    ~ Ronald Reagan

  12. I do appreciate the in-fighting and obstructionism.

    Imagine if the politicians got along and did not oppose one another, how many additional laws would we face?

  13. Leftists and partisans have been pumping for higher deficit spending for years. Krugman was pimping that idea for so long it’s probably going to be on his gravestone. I don’t expect the next administration to change anything, and Congress has no chance until the statists are removed. Which is essentially saying that no Democrat or Republican is ever going to support balancing budgets. The only reason I end up voting Republican in the end is simply that Democrats have shit the bed, thrown the poop all over the room, and then started eating it.

    1. And then blamed other people for the mess and shitty taste.

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  17. They get exactly the welfare state that you advocate for.

    Simple enough answer for you?

  18. The Kleptocracy normally keeps tax deadline and election day as far apart as the poles asunder. But thanks to the Chinese Communist Party virus tax day is way closer to elections. Remember that when you find the Schedule 1 is not a replacement for but addition to the Schedule A. With mandatory minimums Biden versus God’s Own Republicans, surely someone can appreciate the value of casting a law-changing libertarian spoiler vote instead of being another 0.00000007% bootlicking the Kleptocracy!

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