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Thursday, September 15, 2022
CNS Pushing Right-Wing Fearmongering About IRS, Censors The Truth

The revelation that the Inflation Reduction Act would including funding for the IRS to hire 87,000 employees over the next 10 years was quickly warped into a right-wing attack point -- and did its part in advancing it.

An Aug. 8 article by Susan Jones quoted a Texas congressman (who surprisingly wasn't Ted Cruz) snarking, "I don't want to hire 87,000 new IRS agents, I want to hire 87,000 new Border Patrol agents." Another article that day, by Melanie Arter, featured Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham fearmongering that the agents "come after “waitresses, Uber drivers and everybody else to collect more taxes.” But don't worry, the boss of CNS editor Terry Jeffrey's daughter did get yet another Aug. 8 article from Arter dedicated to his repetition of those same right-wing talking points:

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) warned Sunday that the Democrats through the Inflation Reduction Act are trying to hire 87,000 new IRS agents, which will double the size of the IRS making it bigger than the Pentagon, State Department, FBI and Border Patrol combined.


“They're not designed to come after the billionaires and the big corporations, they're designed to come after small businesses and working families across this country. The Democrats are making the IRS bigger than the Pentagon plus the Department of State, plus the FBI, plus the Border Patrol combined. The IRS is going to be bigger,” he said.

“This is a massive power grab, and I've got to say it's amazing, Maria, watching these Democrats amendment after amendment, common sense amendments they vote against. I introduced an amendment to say don't create 87,000 new IRS agents, every Democrat voted no,” Cruz said.

An anonymously written article in Aug. 8 upped the fearmongering byquoting the bill out of bontext: "The 755-page “Inflation Reduction Act” that passed the Senate yesterday on a 50-50 vote—with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking 51st vote—would provide the Internal Revenue Service with an additional $70,963,800,000 to target American taxpayers with 'enforcement activities' and 'enforcement programs.'"

An Aug. 9 article by Jones quoted Newt Gingrich declaring, "And when you look at the Democrats who are trying to add 85,000 IRS agents [he meant 87,000] to the already existing 77,000, that would mean 162,000 IRS agents compared, for example, to 29,000 people that we have on the border trying to control the border."

It wasn't until an Aug. 9 article by Arter that CNS first attempted to tell the other side of the story, quoting White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre pointing out that Republicans were being "dishonest" in their attacks on the IRS funding, though Arter didn't actually quote Jean-Pierre specifically debunking the right-wing narrative.

From there, it was back to fearmongering, and Jones was happy to oblige in an Aug. 11 article by suggesting that all the new agents will be armed:

As Democrats defend their plan to hire 87,000 additional IRS agents, the Internal Revenue Service already is trying to hire special agents who are "legally allowed to carry a firearm" and are willing to do so; are "willing to use deadly force, if necessary," and are "willing and able to participate in arrests, execution of search warrants, and other dangerous assignments."

"Click here to apply today!" says the message on "IRS Careers" webpage.

"The IRS is making one of the greatest power grabs I have ever seen in governmental history with 87,000 new agents," said Fox Business host Larry Kudlow, who served as the Director of the National Economic Council during the Trump Administration from 2018 to 2021.

Jones did attempt a lame attempt at balance:

Democrats insist that the 87,000 new IRS agents authorized by the Democrats' Inflation Reduction Act will go after wealthy tax cheats, not lower- and middle-class taxpayers.

White House Economic Adviser Jared Bernstein told Fox News on Wednesday that the "long-term defunding of the IRS" has facilitated "tax evasion by wealthy evaders."

Citing the IRS Commissioner, Bernstein said, "IRS resources will not add to audits for households under $400,000, and those same households will not see one penny increase in their taxes based on proposals in the Inflation Reduction Act."

Other analysts disagree, however.

Jones did not name any of these "analysts."

None of these articles, of course, seriously challenge the right-wing narratives for which they're serviing as servile stenographers. As a more responsible and factually dedicated news outlet reported, the 87,000 number is what is needed to mainstain IRS staffing levels over the next decade, given that 50,000 current employees are expected to retire or otherwise depart the agency in the next five years alone. And not all of them wil be agents: A significant number of them will work in customer service and information technology in an attempt to modernize tax return processing and make the agency more consumer-friendly. The IRS has stated that more experienced personnel are needed to handle the sophisticated audits needed to deal with high-income taxpayers, and there is no desire to increase the number of audits of lower-income taxpayers. Further, only a tiny amount of agents in a special unit are armed.

But rather than tell its readers the truth, CNS would rather spread fearmongering right-wing talking points. Jones did this again in another lazy Aug. 11 article:

The Biden administration insists that hiring 87,000 new IRS agents will not increase the current audit rate of taxpayers earning less than $400,000. It's the wealthy tax evaders they say they'll go after.

Nonsense, said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who appeared together on Fox News Wednesday night. Both men agreed that the IRS will go after conservative nonprofits and people who don't use accountants to do their taxes:

"What's going to happen is the low-hanging fruit is what gets picked first, and that's the people who file their own tax returns," Huckabee said:

Craig Bannister quoted anti-tax activist Grover Norquist claiming without evidence that "They’re going to have 1.2 million new audits. There are less than less than a thousand billionaires and only 500 companies in the Fortune 500. The rest of them are us." Bannister also served up meaningless comparisons in another Aug. 11 article:

The 87,000 hiring total is more than the entire population of President Joe Biden’s home town of Wilmington, Delaware. In 2020, Wilmington had a population of 70,898, according to that year’s census, a number the Census Bureau estimates fell to 70,750 as of July 1, 2021.

Other notable populations surpassed by the 87,000 additional IRS employees include the entire British army and the Roman Coliseum:

  • Pres. Biden’s home town of Wilmington, Delaware (approx. 71,000)
  • 2 Washington Nationals stadiums (41,313 X 2 = 82,626)
  • 1.7 Roman Coliseums (50,000 X 1.7 = 85,000)
  • Entire British Army 82,000)
  • The Stadiums of Real Salt Lake, Houston Dynamo FC, Los Angeles FC and FC Dallas combined (approx. 20,000 each)
  • The entire personnel on all 11 U.S. aircraft carriers.

What's more, some of those 87,000 new IRS agents would even “carry a firearm and be willing to use deadly force.”

Jones brought her own meaningless comparison in an Aug. 12 article:

Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) objects to many of the bill's provisions, including the plan to hire 87,000 new IRS agents:

"Get this, Maria," he told Fox News's Maria Bartiromo on Friday:

"The Clemson football stadium holds 83,000 fans. It won't even hold IRS agents that they are -- they're getting ready to hire. It's a total -- they're doing this for effect, and the American people don't deserve this.

An anonymously written Aug. 16 article upped the gun fearmongering again:

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R.-Calif.) said in a speech on the House floor on Friday that the Internal Revenue Service has "4,600 guns and 5 million rounds of ammunition.”


“You are going to double the size of the IRS,” McCarthy said—addressing his remarks to “Madam Speaker,” who is Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.)

 “They have 80,000 employees,” McCarthy said. “You know what the IRS also had? 4,600 guns, 5 million rounds of ammunition. Why?

“Democrats want to double its already massive size,” he said. “You are going to spend $80 billion of hard-earned American taxpayer money to hire an army of 87,000 new IRS agents.

The anonymous writer made no effort to fact-check anything McCarthy said, even though his statement that the new agents will "double" the agency's size is highly dishonest.

Posted by Terry K. at 1:07 AM EDT

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