Every election year, Republicans manufacture some controversy, looking to stir up enough anger and fear to drive their base to the polls and maybe get some independents or irregular Democratic-leaning voters to stay home. During the Trump years, you could practically set a clock to the claims that a migrant “caravan” was making its way toward the U.S. just in time for the elections. This year, Republicans are demonizing the IRS, pinning it on the Inflation Reduction Act’s funding and the FBI’s search of Mar-a-Lago.
In reality, the new IRS funding will restore some of what’s been slashed from the agency’s budget since 2010, and it will enable audits of wealthy people with accountants to help them evade taxes and hide money. Currently, the lowest-income households are audited at far higher rates than the highest-income ones. The plan is to start to change that, with significant revenue benefits for the nation, since the money that rich people aren’t paying is going to add up a lot more quickly than money that poor people aren’t paying. The IRS will also have money to get through its backlog of unprocessed tax returns, upgrade outdated business systems, and improve customer service.
But according to Republicans, Democrats are “weaponizing” both the FBI and the IRS—language that helped incite violence against the FBI already and could do the same to the IRS. Sen. Rick Scott warned people not to apply for IRS jobs, basing his warning on lies about the IRS planning violence against ordinary Americans. The Republican National Committee released a video suggesting that the new IRS funding would hurt working people.
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Republicans are relying on the media not calling them out for inciting violence as long as they couple their language demonizing the IRS with tepid warnings like “no matter how mad you are, please don’t do anything untoward,” as Rep. Tom Cole said in a virtual town hall recently. But at the same town hall event, Cole didn’t correct a caller who claimed the IRS would be adding large numbers of armed agents, and Cole himself repeated lies about the funding doubling the size of the IRS with the intent of auditing small business owners and small farmers.
”We’re hiring 87,000 IRS agents. You see in the job listing posting, in the description, it says that these new hires are required to be armed, and to use deadly force if necessary. Taxation is theft, and this is armed robbery,” Rep. Lauren Boebert recently claimed. In reality, the IRS has a small number of criminal enforcement agents who are, as law enforcement agents in these United States of America, armed.
At the same time they fearmonger about how armed federal agents “raided” Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property and that means they might come for you, the little guy, Republicans are also fearmongering about how Democrats are opposed to various other forms of law enforcement. “Strategists also said that telling voters Democrats are prioritizing funding the IRS over police or border security is an easy attack that inflames the GOP base,” The Washington Post reports.
So now Republicans want to pick and choose which law enforcement they support and which is an unacceptable infringement on your rights. Okay guys. This is also coming as they blast out a steady stream of laments that arrests and seizures of fentanyl at the border prove that … Democrats are gutting border enforcement. Literally the fact that enforcement is racking up big numbers is being used to show that it has been drastically weakened. On top of all that, they keep claiming that voters don’t want them to talk about their abortion bans because all voters care about is inflation, even as they talk about all this non-inflation stuff.
Do not ever expect Republicans to make a lick of sense or be the least bit consistent when they are approaching a big election. But in this case, the attacks on the IRS, like the attacks on the FBI, could be really dangerous—and Republicans don’t care any more about that than they care about making sense or avoiding hypocrisy.
The IRS sucks because Republicans made it suck