Isabel Paterson noted in The God of the Machine that "political power has a ratchet effect," such that once it's been granted, it's nearly impossible to withdraw. She cited the repeal of the Eighteenth (Prohibition) Amendment as an example, noting that the thousands of federal Civil Service jobs Prohibition had created remained in place even after the authority they were supposed to wield had been retracted.
The rest of the country may be waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court to decide the fate of President Barack Obama’s health-care law, but the Internal Revenue Service is wasting no time.
It wants to add new agents to hunt down tax cheats and still plans to spend $303.5 million building a system to oversee the effects of the health law even though its future is unclear.
As for the new IRS workers, the Government Accountability Office said the total will be about 4,500, with nearly 4,000 (3,997) slated for enforcement.
On the $303.5 million for health care, the GAO said the IRS will “continue the development of new systems and modifications of existing systems required to support new tax credits,” as well as other IRS enforcement systems for health reform.
I predict that whether or not the Supreme Court rules ObamaCare unConstitutional, those positions, once created, will remain. The salaries attached to them will remain. And the persons in them will acquire the longevity associated with Civil Service personnel, and the arrogance and power typical of the IRS.
This sort of irreversible swelling of government is one of the things Americans tend not to think about when we're urged to pass a new federal program. "We can always repeal it," goes the saying. Perhaps we can...but the expansion of the federal bureaucracy is quite another matter. That hasn't endured a reduction in real terms since the Harding Administration.
Beware the ratchet!