After Hounding Hunter Biden about Taxes for Months, Mike Johnson Coddles Rich Tax Cheats

Since January, it has been the unrelenting focus of the GOP House — including Mike Johnson — to demand higher penalties on Hunter Biden for not paying all his taxes. Just last month, for example, Johnson claimed that people were seeing “the DOJ, of course, aggressively prosecuting President Biden’s chief political rival, Mr. Trump, while at the same time, they see slow-walking and special treatment given to the President’s son. That’s just a fact that everybody can see with their own two eyes.”

But as one of the first acts under Speaker Johnson, he will respond to a terrorist attack by trying to help rich tax cheats. His plan pays for funding for Israel by cutting funding to the IRS by $14.3 billion, funding that more than pays for itself.

Johnson’s move to cut IRS funding comes weeks after the IRS made headlines for the amounts it is collecting from tax cheats who are far richer than Hunter Biden.

A month after announcing it would crack down on 1,600 millionaires who were far behind on their taxes, the Internal Revenue Service said Friday it has collected $122 million in 100 of these cases.

That’s on top of $38 million in back taxes the IRS has already collected from 175 other millionaires. It brings the recent rake-in of back taxes from wealthy households to $160 million, IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said.

“The funds that we’ve collected should give you a fairly good idea of how much money is on the table for us,” Werfel told reporters, highlighting how the IRS is using money from the Inflation Reduction Act.

The IRS is using Inflation Reduction Act to ensure that the super rich no longer get treated better than Hunter Biden.

And in one of his first moves as Speaker, Mike Johnson is moving to make sure that only Hunter Biden must pay his taxes.

Update: Fixed billion/million.

Update: The IRS Commissioner claims that the IRS “offset” would cost $90 billion.

Update: CBO says Johnson’s bill would add $12.5B to the deficit by cutting $26.8B in revenues.

108 replies
  1. Joe Stewart says:

    That should read “$14.3 billion” not “$14.3 million”…. We humans are routinely off by a factor of a 1,000 – interesting, huh?

  2. Benoit Roux says:

    He might say that Jesus hates taxes and love tax cheats. But then again…:

    (Matthew 22:15-22; Luke 20:20-26)

    13 Then they sent some Pharisees and some Herodiansl to him, intending to trap him in what he said. 14 They came and told him, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere. You don’t favor any individual, because you pay no attention to external appearance. Rather, you teach the way of God truthfully. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not? Should we pay them or shouldn’t we?”

    15 Seeing through their hypocrisy, Jesusm replied to them, “Why are you testing me? Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.”

    16 So they brought one. Then he asked them, “Whose face and name are on this?”

    They told him, “Caesar’s.”

    17 So Jesus told them, “Give back to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were utterly amazed at him.

    • Amicus12 says:

      Michael Hudson argues that this is perhaps the single most misconstrued passage of the Gospels. As a zealot Jew, Jesus’ understood nothing of the land of Israel to belong to Caesar, and all of it to belong to Yahweh. His response is a brilliant piece of lawyerly doublespeak.

      As regards Speaker Johnson, he’s a dispensationalist. So, if we put aside the agency-predestination problem, it’s a bit curious that he is putting at risk the Second Coming and Jesus’ return to Jerusalem based upon contingent support for Israel.

      • Spencer Dawkins says:

        That passage is certainly understood in a variety of ways. I happen to agree closely with the understanding you attribute to Jesus.

        And I think of Jesus as a “zealous Jew” – I wasn’t there, but I understand zealots to be Just Fine With Violent Resistance, which isn’t a pillar of faith in the canonical Gospels.

        But your observation about the theological confusion of defunding the IRS is dead on – if the End Times ARE approaching, why would it matter how much money your funders have?

        I’m glad I’m not Johnson’s pastor. There is so much work to be done!

        • ItTollsForYou says:

          This is an exceedingly rich passage and I’m enjoying this discussion! Unfortunately, religious conservatives have the dumbest possible take on it.

          One interpretation that I’ve found meaningful concerns the word “image.” Jesus is not telling people to pay their taxes; he’s asking them “who do you belong to?” If *people* bear the image of god, then Caesar has no power or rights over them. He can keep his measly coins.

      • Harry Eagar says:

        They all skip over that thousand years of tribulation stuff.

        I have a Jewish friend who occasionally quizzes me about Christianity, and she goes away shaking her head.

        OTOH, all my Jewish friends are petty secular; I don’t personally know any who are well-versed in Torah; nor are any very political. So I cannot ask any of them what Jews make of rightwing American Christians who profess so to love the Jews and/or Israel, considering what that entails.

        [Moderator’s note: This has been sitting in moderation bin because of its questionable content; after much consideration I am releasing it with a caveat. Please consider how your last two sentences would sound if the words “Black” or “Asian” were substituted and other cultural references inserted. It sounds racist. /~Rayne]

      • Greg Hunter says:

        You hit the nail on the head. The idea that Jesus said to pay your taxes is a ludicrous interpretation. This and many of their interpretations are ridiculous but they remain unquestioned while this group dismantles the Constitution.

        That lie gets confirmed with the Render unto Caesar….

        All of the coins had Caesar’s face. Give them all up.

        Dominionism is another warped interpretation of Genesis 1 but taking steps to try to fulfill the end times stuff should scare every one.

    • Zinsky123 says:

      Love this post! TY, Ms. Wheeler! It shines a bright light on the hypocrisy of the so-called “religious right” in their endless pursuit of mammon. I studied the New Testament and the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) in great detail in college religion classes. The parable of the moneychangers in the temple and Jesus’ admonition to “Render unto Caesar” are instructive in many ways. Jewish law at the time allowed no graven images on their coinage. So, moneychangers were needed at Jewish synagogues to convert Roman coins containing Caesar’s image to those with none (e.g. “the widow’s mite”). When Jesus violently overturned the moneychangers tables and scourged them with lashes [violent ‘zealotry’, I would say], it ensured Jesus’s arrest and trial. Interestingly, the Synoptic Gospels has the event happening near the end of Jesus’s ministry (which makes more sense) and John has it near the beginning. Both can’t be correct, so maybe Mike Johnson can explain, since he believes the Bible is infallible. Incidentally, as someone has pointed out, one of the 13 disciples and the reputed author of the book of Matthew was a tax collector. Most scholars doubt this authorship. Throughout the New Testament, Jesus is scorned for associating with tax collectors.

  3. flounder says:

    What I find ironic is the Gym and Comer dog and pony show have lifted a couple IRS case investigators to a position of being cops (more important than FBI even!), and now they want to defund these very same police.

  4. ToldainDarkwater says:

    The program to defund the IRS has been around at least 30 years. So, to me, this represents a return to normalcy.

  5. Lisboeta says:

    I’m not surprised that Mike Johnson wants to purloin money from the IRS funding to support the current Republican pet cause. A better-funded IRS means that the wealthy (whose tax returns are more complicated) are more likely to be audited and have to pay their dues. But that doesn’t accord with the party philosophy. As Trump said: “Not paying [federal] taxes make me smart”.

  6. SomeGuyInMaine says:

    Republicans make yet another +/- sign error in deficit math.

    Say one thing, get the opposite result. Long standing trend it seems.

  7. ToldainDarkwater says:

    Especially during the 2016 campaign, Trump loved to tell audiences that the game was rigged. He was right – and Mike Johnson – devoted MAGA – is trying to rig it even more.

  8. Footy_31OCT2023_1109h says:

    Hiya Marcy, wanted to say thank you for this site, a bastion of hope and clarity in these disturbing times. We left Maricopa County (bmaz country) traveling for several months in Europe, but I look to you exclusively for the latest understanding of political news, as if we had never left.

    Point being we just left Ireland and of course we raised several pints to you, your mister and June Bug whilst enjoying the Emerald Isle. The last was in the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. Our second time there, I am convinced that the best tasting Guinness is only found in Ireland. (It’s the water, they say).

    Bless you and your band of excellent commentators and co- conspirators. And may the good Lord take a liking to you, but not too soon.


    [Welcome to emptywheel. Please choose and use a unique username with a minimum of 8 letters. We are moving to a new minimum standard to support community security. Your username has been temporarily changed to include the date/time of your first known comment until you have a new compliant username. Thanks. /~Rayne]

    • David Brooks says:

      While in Dublin many years ago I realized that the Guinness is drawn straight from the River Liffey with no intervention.

      • ernesto1581 says:

        Anna was, Livia is, Plurabelle’s to be…the chittering waters of…beside the rivering waters of, hitherandthithering waters of.

      • Footymann says:

        Yes sir, eventually. We left mid-October just as the weather was finally allowing us to use the backyard for coffee in the morning and cocktails at night. Aaarrrggghhh! We will return to Sun City after the German Christmas markets and next year learn to travel during the summer months. Take care!

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      It’s also the age and less processing. Guinness in Dublin can be as fresh as 24 hours old.

      • Footymann says:

        Appreciate the points of view. Perhaps you both agree a sweeter (not necessarily literally) pint would be hard to find?

  9. omphaloscepsis says:

    “The gross tax gap is the difference between true tax liability for a given tax year and the amount that is paid on time. It is comprised of the nonfiling gap, the underreporting gap, and the underpayment (or remittance) gap. The net tax gap is the portion of the gross tax gap that will never be recovered through enforcement or other late payments.”

    The most recent annual estimate of the net tax gap on the site is over half a trillion dollars.

    • Lisboeta says:

      “The most recent annual estimate of the net tax gap on the site is over half a trillion dollars.”

      It may be possible to quibble about the methodology, or other aspects of that survey. Even so, what remains after any adjustments is still a helluva tax gap. But Republicans would prefer that no-one focuses on that.

  10. The Old Redneck says:

    This should be a winning campaign issue. It seems like the non-MAGA crowd could have a field day with this type of protect-the-rich-tax-cheats argument. But instead, they get into social issues quagmires which turn off a pretty large segment of voters. Is anyone going to remember that Mike Johnson proposed this six months from now? Or is it just going to wash away in the tides of the news cycle and be replaced by more titillating stuff?
    If Democrats were half as good at messaging as Republicans, they’d win every time.

  11. harpie says:

    Anne Nelson, author of Shadow Network Media, Money and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right:
    Oct 30, 2023 · 7:34 PM UTC

    When discussing the religious “Conservative Resurgence” of the GOP, it’s tempting to look at individual strains. But it’s a joint project of (once antagonistic) Southern Baptists, NAR & right-wing Catholics–fueled by oil & gas industries.

    • RipNoLonger says:

      Absolutely. These attacks are coordinated from on high (or low depending on viewpoint.) There may be different groups all with some nuanced ideologies and cultist personas, but the web that unites them all is massive amounts of money – libertarians, mega-monsters, foreign interests. And they’ll all dance to those strings when pulled.

      I keep Shadow Network close by – an amazing in-depth research. I also just finished “Jesus and John Wayne”, a different viewpoint but with additional religious-oriented support.

  12. Matt Foley says:

    Trump’s $17 trillion lie:
    1. Promised to eliminate Obama’s $10 trillion added debt.
    2. Added another $7 trillion debt.

    Why doesn’t Mike Johnson ask MAGAs to repay their covid handouts they got from Trump?

    I just watched Fox’s Kayleigh McEnany gushing over Mike Johnson being a Christian. Some pearls from Kayleigh:
    “I really believe he thinks God is leading the way.”
    “He took me to the prayer room…He’s going to start every morning in prayer and ask for wisdom and guidance.”

    See? Nothing to worry about.

    • wa_rickf says:

      God telling the R-folks to run for office sure is interesting! God told Mike Pence to run for POTUS, but then the Bible tells Mike to dropout of the race.

      I’m sure these folks are just as confused by the mixed directions as I am.

      • harpie says:

        These people are NOT as confused as the rest of us.
        According to Bob Altemeyer, most of TRUMP’s supporters are authoritarian followers, who are known for their ability to compartmentalize contradictory information.

        Here’s the website:

        The most recent posting is from May:
        Why Do So Many People Still Support Donald Trump?
        Bob Altemeyer

      • BRUCE F COLE says:

        Sorry to have offended you.

        That post was meant as a reply to the thread above (posting mistakenly out of thread happens sometimes), where Kayleigh McEnany is gushing over Johnson’s Cristofascist charisma, and the sarcastic question is asked by the poster: “What could go wrong?”

        My answer to that was meant to ridicule the MAGA mindset that places meritless trust in transparently manipulative characters like those two.

        I’ll dial it back in any event.

        • Matt Foley says:

          1. Never trust someone who doesn’t know the difference between faith and knowledge.

          2. “No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”
          Article VI
          U.S. Constitution

          3. Founding fathers were Deists, not Christians. I am so sick and tired of hearing “we are a Christian nation”. No we’re not.

          • wa_rickf says:

            Exactly, the Founders were Deists and students of the Age of Enlightenment.

            SPOILER ALERT: The AoE was in no way “keep the status quo” conservative.

            Treaty of Tripoli (1797) Section 11 states, in part:

            “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion…”

    • CaptainCondorcet says:

      My money would have been on Haley, but she continues to hit him pretty hard about his “smart Hezbollah” comments a few weeks back. The Democrats didn’t even field a candidate against Mike Johnson last time (given he smashed through their “jungle primary” in ’20 and ’18), which makes Louisiana law weird. Mike can’t run for office under state law on the November ballot for both offices, but by that same state’s law, he wouldn’t need to if he is the only candidate or if he wins the first round primary with greater than 50% of the vote. So there’s a chance he could be “Pence clone” and still be guaranteed his seat should Trump lose.

    • BRUCE F COLE says:

      In terms of sick-ophancy, Kari is the front runner (assuming MTG is just too frisky), and he may be that far gone, iow just looking for someone to lean on, by the time selection time roles around.

      But if the fallout from the evidentiary deluge that the multiple trials will have produced by that time hasn’t already pulled him under, beyond the reach of any prospect with even marginal cognition, Johnson fits all the Pence pre-J6 checkboxes (a soulless evangelical who will worship him as a graven idol) and has almost as much charisma, which elevates him above all others at this point.

      Plus he’s a lawyer so he can give Trump free legal advice as part of the job — not a small consideration in the dull mind of the slouching beast, I’m guessing.

      One thing I’m fairly certain of: that he will not choose anyone who’s distanced themselves from him (like Haley or anyone who’s running against him now). He doesn’t have that historical P/VP strategic sense. It’s beyond his ability to even contemplate.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      harpie, is this a thought experiment? If not, it still has me thinking…to prove how “smart” he is, Trump will likely pick either a woman (of the Kari Lake/Kristi Noem* mold) or a younger man from a minority group so he can brag about inclusiveness. Not Ramaswamy–too gaffe-prone–but maybe Byron Donalds.

      *Noem’s dalliance with Cory Lewandowski is suggestive of a play for Trump’s notice.

    • fubar jack says:

      I’m curious who his vp candidate will be as well. I get the screaming night terrors as to the potential cabinet he would pick if he gets another term. Marjorie Taylor Greene makes sense as a running mate.

    • fubar jack says:

      I’m curious who his vp candidate will be as well. I get the screaming night terrors as to the potential cabinet he would pick if he gets another term.

  13. BRUCE F COLE says:

    Suggested thought-balloon-fodder for the title photo:

    “This is indeed God’s will, and He gives me this sign: there is a dead ringer for Newt Gingrich from the nose up, in his prime, standing right in front of me!!!!”

    Young fella behind his left shoulder:
    “That bystander looks woke to me! Maybe he’s not a bystander at all!”

    Young woman behind his right shoulder:
    “I am Zuul the Gatekeeper! Are you the Keymaster?”

    OT: I bet 40% of us know what else JMJ stands for without googling it.

    • CaptainCondorcet says:

      Israel’s initial “successes” in their ground invasion (hostage rescued, Hamas commander killed) coupled with Johnson becoming speaker make an immediate ceasefire highly unlikely. Johnson will almost certainly refuse to attach conditions to any Israel aid package, and it seems very unlikely Biden will torpedo it if that’s the case. Coupled with immediate confirmation bias by Israeli leadership that what they’re doing is working, and it’s sadly a dismal time to be in Palestine

      • tinaotinao says:

        Ya know, that sounds very likely true, but I see from time to time where interesting things can come about. So, though I may be in the unlikely boat, you can’t totally discount an outcome.

    • tinaotinao says:

      Hey bmaz did you see the RollingStone’s KR birthday addition? One of my favorite pirates! : – )

        • ExRacerX says:

          “Bite My Head Off” with Sir Paul guesting on fuzz bass is a bubbling, seething, punky mess—I love it! Tried to link the video, but wasn’t sure I was doing it correctly, so I bailed.

          Anyway, haven’t listened to the whole album yet, but these old geezers clearly ain’t dead yet.

  14. David F. Snyder says:

    As Mr. Zappa wrote long ago:

    Hey, we can’t really be dumb, if we’re just following God’s Orders
    Let’s get serious, God knows what He’s doing
    He wrote this book here an’ in the Book He says:
    “He made us all to be just like Him,”
    So… If we’re dumb… Then God is dumb…
    An’ maybe even a little bit ugly on the side

    (Full performance here:

    • bidrec-gap says:

      Roman Hruska defending President Richard M. Nixon’s proposed appointment of G. Harrold Carswell to the Supreme Court (1970): “Even if he is mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren’t they, and a little chance? We can’t all have Brandeises, Cardozos and Frankfurters and stuff like that there.”

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        In praise of mediocrity, with the snark of someone who wants judges so mediocre, they will never be a threat to him. Trump and Len Leo just took it the last mile, with judges who so think like them, they are in each other’s pockets.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          And now, Mike Johnson and his patrons would appoint Christofascists to the next Trump or GOP administration, who would make Len Leo’s appointees look like Andy Hardy’s dad.

    • ExRacerX says:

      Zappa totally saw this Christo-fascist shit coming…

      “At the House of Representatives
      He’s a groovy guy
      When he Gives Thanks
      He is not alone

      He is dealin’
      He is really dealin’
      IRS can’t determine
      Where The Hook is—
      It is easy with the Bible
      To pretend that
      You’re in Show Biz…

      …He’s got Presidential Help
      All along the way
      He says the grace
      While the lawyers chew
      Oh yeah
      They sure do

      And the Governors agree to say:
      “He’s a lovely man!”
      He makes it easier for
      Them to screw
      All of you . . .
      Yes, that’s true!

      ‘Cause he helps put The Fear of God
      In the Common Man
      Snatchin’ up money
      Everywhere he can
      Oh yeah
      Oh yeah

  15. harpie says:

    What Ginni Thomas and Leonard Leo wrought: How a justice’s wife and a key activist started a movement Thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, a trove of so-called “dark money” was about to be unleashed. Two activists prepared to seize the moment. HEIDI PRZYBYLA 9/10/2023

    The Supreme Court’s decision in the 2010 Citizens United case transformed the world of politics. It loosened restrictions on campaign spending and unleashed a flow of anonymous donor money to nonprofit groups run by political activists.
    In the months before the ruling dropped in January of that year, a group of conservative activists came together to create just such an organization. Its mission would be to, at the time, block then-President Barack Obama’s pet initiatives.

    [There is a really good Time Line here]

    The PLAYERS:
    Leonard LEO
    Ginny [SCOTUS Spouse] THOMAS
    Clarence [Insurrectionist Spouse] THOMAS
    Harlan CROW
    [“I’m not asking you, Cleta, honestly”] MITCHELL
    Kelly Anne CONWAY
    Carrie [former THOMAS clerk] SEVERINO
    John [Insurrectionist, former THOMAS clerk] EASTMAN
    Ronald CASS

    • bmaz says:

      Anybody carping at Citizens United that does not discuss Buckley v. Valeo doesn’t really understand Citizen’s United. The main premise of CU is that money is indeed speech. It is really not controversial, indeed it is hard to argue against that. The later opinion in McCutcheon also reaffirms Buckley. People that whine only about Citizens United are not drilling down far enough. Buckley is the real problem, not CU.

      • harpie says:

        OK, I’ll read up on that…Wiki seems like a good beginning:

        But, as far as I can tell, that’s not really what the article is about. It seems to me that it’s about how people took advantage of a particular change brought about by Citizens United, which the Court’s previous decisions evidently had not yet reached.

          • harpie says:

            Is this statement false?:

            [The Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizen’s United] loosened restrictions on campaign spending and unleashed a flow of anonymous donor money to nonprofit groups run by political activists.

            • bmaz says:

              No, not necessarily. But it does not exist without Buckley. Too many people think CU was the magic moment, but it really was not.

  16. harpie says:

    Here’s VIDEO of JOHNSON answering a reporter’s question about whether he would put the aid for Israel bill on the floor for a vote if it does not have spending cuts:
    Nov 2, 2023 · 2:31 PM UTC

    [JOHNSON: […] [0:15] No, listen, we, we are in dire straights as a nation, and if you talk to leaders of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, sometimes even in recent years under oath, they’ve testified before the House Armed Services Committee, where I, I served until last week, um, if you ask ‘em what the greatest threat is to our national security, you would expect, most people expect they’d say China, Russia, Iran, terrorism. They say it’s the national debt. We have to address it. […]]

    THAT is NOT believable.

    • bmaz says:

      From the Joint Chiefs??? Not even close to being believable. Lol. Congrats to the Dems though, who could have seen to it that McCarthy stayed there instead of this holy roller jackass. But no. In the same vein, Schumer could kill the BS from Tuberville and Vance with a majority vote any day. But no.

    • harpie says:

      Speaking of holy rolling, this is from bmaz’s Twitter, noting that
      This is NOT reassuring
      Nov 2, 2023 · 10:05 PM UTC

      [Kayleigh McENANY[?]; Mike JOHNSON and Kelly JOHNSON[?] [who smiles and nods silently throughout], standing outside a small chapel in the CAPITOL]

      JOHNSON: Ah, we, we’ve already used it quite a bit, and we’ll be using it every morning.

      MCENANY: So, all, every morning!

      JOHNSON: Yes.

      MCENANY: OK, so, you know, my team back in the White House, last thing we did before we went to the podium was have a prayer. [MJ: Yeah.] So, literally, end in prayer and then [MJ: Yeah.] go speak to the press. So, each morning, do you have, will you have a ritual?

      JOHNSON: This’ll be, this’ll be my, my discipline to come in here and um, and um seek the Lord’s guidance for what we do each day.

  17. harpie says:

    [This seems like a tabloid story I wouldn’t normally post about here,
    but CapitolHunters has really earned my respect in the past couple of years.]
    Nov 4, 2023 · 1:26 AM UTC

    Really seems like something’s off with the story of Speaker Mike Johnson’s ‘adopted son’. Johnson just discussed him again on Fox, and a new article subtly slams him (“drug[s]..theft since leaving [Johnson’s] care”) AND magically inserts wife Kelly 2 years before she met Mike. 1/ [THREAD]

  18. harpie says:

    During a Trip to Israel, Mike Johnson Connected With Far-Right Extremists While there he denied Palestinians were “oppressed in these areas.” David Corn 11/3/23

    […] At the Golan Heights, the pair [JOHNSON and Jim JORDAN…their wives were also on the trip] posed and smiled in front of a sign for Trump Heights, a new Israeli settlement in occupied territory claimed by Israel but that is widely considered to violate international law. […]

    The February 2020 trip was paid for by 12 Tribe Film Foundation.

    • harpie says:

      […] This visit to Israel—Johnson’s second—seems to have influenced the future speaker’s views regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At the end of the visit, he and Jordan recorded a podcast [LINK] with Abelow. Johnson gushed that he saw the trip “as the fulfillment of biblical prophecy—that we’re here at this time.” […]

      Avi ABELOW:

      the director of 12Tribe Films Foundations. A New York-born Jew who lives in Jerusalem, Abelov is an arch-Zionist and a zealously religious supporter of Israel. […]

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