Tag Archive for: InflationReductionAct

Blake Masters is Spot On — Mark Kelly Is No Arizona Maverick

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

Democratic Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly tries to make noise that he’s a reasonable, moderate and independent thinker, but the facts about his policy votes and economic views tell a different story. As Kelly’s rival Blake Masters points out, Kelly is no Kyrsten Sinema – an actual maverick not afraid to occasionally buck the Democratic Party.

Kelly supported the falsely-named “Inflation Reduction Act,” which has done nothing to stop painful inflation walloping American families. Kelly supported the CHIPS Act (H.R. 4346), a flawed, $250 billion spending spree combining corporate welfare and industrial policy. Kelly voted for the inflationary, 2,741 page, $1.5 trillion omnibus spending package that expanded the Green New Deal nonsense.

Kelly has a 0% lifetime rating from the Heritage Action For America scorecard, which means that he’s literally never deviated from the progressive position on anything during his Senate career.

Unlike Sinema, Kelly voted to blow up the filibuster, a move that Democrats are pushing for to ram through a federal takeover of elections and pack the U.S. Supreme Court.

Masters said it well on a recent debate stage against Kelly: “Joe Biden is spending like a drunken sailor and at every single opportunity Mark Kelly just says yes. He can’t say no to Chuck Schumer. He can’t say no to Joe Biden – at least Sen. Sinema stopped Build Back Better.”

Sinema has received an outsized amount of bullying and harassment from the far left for voting only 10% in alignment with conservatives at Heritage over the course of her Senate career.

“I know Sen. Sinema caved on the Inflation Reduction Act, and I’m mad at her for that,” Masters continued. “But hey, isn’t it interesting that you have to wonder which way she was gonna vote? You never have to wonder which way Sen. Kelly is gonna vote. Because any spending bill that Biden puts in front of him, he will sign.”

Indeed, as Masters noted, Kelly was the deciding vote on the flawed $750 billion Inflation Reduction Act, which passed solely along party lines.

As women and children suffer from rapes and human trafficking along Arizona’s porous border, Kelly said “no” to 18,000 more Border Patrol agents, but “yes” to 87,000 new IRS agents through funding in the Inflation Reduction Act. Though Kelly and his fellow Democrats try to sell it otherwise, those 87,000 IRS agents won’t just go after billionaires. They’re not just going after big business. They’re going to be auditing average Americans – they’re going to be auditing small businesses and adding headaches and paperwork sure to put some businesses under and at the least cause stalling and stagnation.

As Masters noted, Kelly also voted to send stimulus checks to illegal aliens and violent felons sitting in jail. Is that a good use of taxpayer money? No.

“Think about that the next time you go to the grocery store and you can’t afford to buy steak or eggs,” Masters said.

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This article was published by the Daily Caller News Foundation and is reproduced with permission.

Americans Expect Beefed up IRS to Target Political Opponents, Audit Lower and Middle Class Americans

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

More Americans believe the latest legislation to hire 87,000 Internal Revenue Service agents is part of a plan to audit middle and lower class Americans and small businesses than to target corporations and wealthy Americans, according to a new poll.

Convention of States Action, along with the Trafalgar group, released the poll that found that “52.1 percent of voters say that the new 87,000 IRS employees, approved by President [Joe] Biden’s legislation, will be used to audit middle-class Americans, low-income earners, and small businesses; or to target the political opponents of those in power.”

The poll comes after Democrats passed the Inflation Reduction Act, legislation that allocated $80 billion in additional taxpayer funds to the IRS.

More Americans believe the latest legislation to hire 87,000 Internal Revenue Service agents is part of a plan to audit middle and lower-class Americans and small businesses than to target corporations and wealthy Americans, according to a new poll.

Convention of States Action, along with the Trafalgar group, released the poll that found that “52.1 percent of voters say that the new 87,000 IRS employees, approved by President [Joe] Biden’s legislation, will be used to audit middle-class Americans, low-income earners, and small businesses; or to target the political opponents of those in power.”   The poll comes after Democrats passed the Inflation Reduction Act, legislation that allocated $80 billion in additional taxpayer funds to the IRS.

Overall, 33% of those surveyed said the new IRS employees will be used “to audit middle class Americans and small businesses” while 31.6% said they will be used “to audit wealthy Americans and large corporations.”

Another 15.9% said the auditors will be used “to target the political opponents of those in power.”

We wanted to understand whether or not voters believe that the true purpose of hiring 87,000 new IRS agents is to focus on – the Biden Administration has been claiming – ’large corporate and high-net-worth taxpayers’ or whether something else is afoot,” said Mark Meckler, president of the Convention of States Action. “Democrats believe that this is the case, and that what they’ve been told by their leaders is accurate. Independents and Republicans strongly believe the country is being lied to, and that this new IRS is going to target either everyday Americans, or those who are political opponents of the federal bureaucracy.”

“We have volunteers in every state, and this matches what we are hearing from the grassroots,” Meckler added.

Another recent poll found that most Americans don’t expect the Inflation Reduction Act to actually reduce inflation.

As The Center Square previously reported, a Morning Consult/Politico poll released earlier this month found that only 24% of those surveyed think the bill will actually reduce inflation while 34% said it will make inflation worse.

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This article was published by Center Square and is reproduced with permission.

Energy Shortage and Mineral Dependence

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Editors’ Note: Although the November 8th election here in Arizona will be focused on economic issues and our southern border invasion, the Inflation Reduction Act should be a central issue for the Senate race between Blake Masters (R) and incumbent Mark Kelly (D). Similarly, incumbent Kyrsten Sinema (D) will attempt to remain in her Senate seat in 2024. Both of these leftist Senators represented a 51st vote that passed the dishonestly named Inflation Reduction Act. It was really a disguised Green New Deal bill passed by reconciliation (50 Democrat votes + the VP) and represents enormous threats to America’s national security and economy. The following article factually describes these threats and the absurdity and danger of Mark Kelly’s and Kyrsten Sinema’s votes. They claim to be voting in Arizona’s interests but the reality is the opposite. Both deserve to be defeated in the November and 2024 elections respectively. In Blake Master’s senatorial quest, be assured he would never support such a bill, including the obscene weaponization of the IRS with 87,000 agents new agents.

 

The Biden Administration got its key legislation through Congress, thanks in large part to Senators Manchin of West Virginia and Sinema of Arizona. Previously, they had opposed key provisions of the larger Build Back Better, but caved to this latest spending travesty. As Bloomberg News put it ” it is a climate bill, just don’t call it that.”

The misnamed Inflation Reduction Act contains large provisions for suppressing oil and gas production and forcing a change over to so-called “renewables” and electric vehicles. It embraces what has become known as the Green New Deal.

This is coupled with the Biden policy of selling oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, largely to help Democrats in November by temporarily putting pressure downward on gasoline prices.

The typical news report will tell you that sales from the reserve now push America’s reserves back to levels last seen in 1985.

That is true as far as it goes, except the economy is larger than in 1985, which means the level of reserve is even lower in relative terms to total output and population.

Per capita, oil consumption has fallen from 1985 largely because of increased efficiency. But overall consumption is about  26% greater.

In comparing levels of the reserve with 1985, you must consider the economy is much larger than in 1985, and the population is considerably greater as well.

Presently, the US uses approximately 19.78 million barrels a day, versus 15.69 million barrels in 1985.

Real Gross Domestic Product, which is GDP adjusted for inflation, a more accurate measure of the size of the economy, was just under $20 Trillion in 2021, versus about $8.5 trillion in 1985. In other words, our economy is almost 2 1/2 times larger. That we have that kind of economic growth and only increased oil consumption by 26% is a remarkable testament to increased efficiency, which of course means less “greenhouse gases.”

The population has grown from 238 million people in 1985 to over 338 million today.

The problem is, that it leaves the country much more vulnerable to energy shocks caused by geopolitical events. The SPR  must support a much larger economy and a substantially greater population. So the result is to leave us much worse off than we were in 1985.

Moreover, all the oil taken from the reserve needs to be replaced, which means all that was provided to the economy to help moderate gasoline prices in the short term for election purposes, will have to be reversed at some point, lest the country is left in a bad state of energy insecurity. This oil needs to be replaced at the same time Biden and his green goblins are reducing production. This obviously adds to demand at some point while production is falling, a formula for higher prices.

Meanwhile, it appears that the forced transition to electric vehicles is hitting some significant snags, that potentially are extremely dangerous. However, no consideration is given to these issues as the legislation pushes demand for electric vehicles through loans, and subsidies,  even while battery production cannot possibly meet demand.

No less than the left-leaning Economist Magazine, a reliably anti-Trump screed, points out the problem in their most recent issue. In a remarkable article, “Could the EV boom run out of juice before it really gets going?”, the magazine points out a total lack of capacity to meet demand and extreme dependence on China for both production and the minerals necessary for production.

To quote from the article:

Most troubling for Western carmakers is China’s dominance of battery-making. The country houses close to 80% of the world’s current cell-manufacturing capacity. Benchmark Minerals forecasts that China’s share will decline in the next decade or so, but only a bit—to just under 70%. By then America would be home to just 12% of global capacity, with Europe accounting for most of the rest.

Other metals such as cobalt come from unstable areas such as Congo, and much of the lithium comes from Chile.  Chile this fall will vote on a revision of its constitution that if passed, will nationalize natural resources.  This recalls the famous quote attributed to Milton Friedman to the effect that “if the government were to take over the Sahara Desert, there would be a shortage of sand in five years.”

Moreover, it takes 5 to 25 years to build new mines, and Chilean production using ponds consumes enormous amounts of water in extremely arid regions.

And then there is the extreme dependence on China, a country that is hostile to the US. As the Economist puts it:

“Even if the West’s EV industry somehow managed to secure enough metals and battery-making capacity, it would still face a giant problem in the middle of the supply chain, refining, where China enjoys near-monopolies. Chinese companies refine nearly 70% of the world’s lithium, 84% of its nickel and 85% of its cobalt… as with battery manufacturers, Chinese refiners gobble up dirty coal-generated electricity. On top of that, according to Trafigura, both European and North American firms are also expected to rely on foreign suppliers, often Chinese ones, for at least half the capacity to convert refined ores into the materials that go into batteries.”

Burning coal to make batteries.  Make sense to you?

Besides battery assembly and raw material supply issues, there is evidence charging stations don’t work.

And when batteries catch on fire, they can electrocute first responders and are almost impossible to extinguish.

Readers need to appreciate that this is not a normal transition in energy sources such as we have had in the past. This is a top-down, politically driven effort based on the dubious science of global warming. Since when have politicians ever designed anything as complex as this without making a complete hash out of it? Rather than adapting to climate change (which is naturally occurring all the time), they are attempting to change the climate of the earth and the very basic way we live.

It would seem appropriate that new systems to replace existing systems should be thoroughly tested before implementation. But the green industrial complex is in a hurry lest we get wind of their failures.

That is dangerous enough. The track record of the Department of Energy is strewn with failures. But clearly, this effort is coupled with a policy to suppress that which we have (domestic oil, gas, and coal capabilities) which in fact makes us very dependent on both production and refining of essential minerals from countries with shaky politics. And in the case of China, the US is made dependent on an outright hostile regime for the production and refining of vital materials. Finally, we are about 80% dependent on battery production itself.

Ironically, if we do get Chinese production, it will be on the back of massive coal consumption. How does that move the needle on global warming, the underlying cause for this incredibly arrogant attempt to alter the climate in 100 years?

Is it wise to leave a nation’s energy grid and transportation sector in the hands of hostile powers? Are there any realists left in the Departments of State and Defense anymore? Is the security of the nation of no consideration here?

We are moving from energy independence to energy dependence, and almost complete production and mineral dependence on a country that is our enemy. Given the nature of the world, as it is, this is a move beyond stupid to suicidal.

Senators Kelly and Sinema, do you care?

 

 

 

Time to Deal With Politicians Who Keep Bringing Us Massive Needless Spending Bills.

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Editors’ Note: Thomas Patterson’s excellent review of the deceptive and punishing Inflation Reduction Act ends with a statement about Senator Mark Kelly of Arizona. He is accurately labeled as the 51st vote for the Inflation Reduction Act causing incalculable damage to Americans’ economic well-being and liberty and should be a major focus of the November 8th election. He is a political fraud – he is no ‘bipartisan centrist’. In addition, he has a long history of involvement and economic enrichment with Tencent Holding, Ltd., a giant Chinese tech and multimedia company with very close ties to the Chinese Communist Party. The ‘Senator from Beijing’ (Mark Kelly) should be voted out of office by Arizonans in less than 90 days, in part for the reasons well described below.

 

Manchin and Sinema had a chance to go down in history as heroes. They courageously withstood withering criticism to save the republic from trillions of dollars of inflation–fanning intergenerational theft.

But finally, they fell for the oldest trick in the book – the “dad can I have a pony“ swindle, traditionally practiced by clever youngsters who were willing to settle for a puppy in the first place. Exhausted by the mental energy required to resist intraparty pressure and not wanting to be responsible for poor election outcomes, they caved.

They supported the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) for $740 billion after sinking (again, thank you) the original $3.6 trillion version.

But what they got was possibly the most deceitful bill in the history of bills. The “IRA will reduce the deficit by $300 billion“ claimed huckster-in–chief Joe Biden. “And we’ll do it without raising taxes a penny on those making less than $400,000 per year“.

Are you joking? Let’s start with the IRS, which received an $80 billion spending boost, an amount the Treasury Department reported would result in 87,000 new FTEs, mostly auditors and examiners.

That’s bad news for the middle class. Only 1.8% of American taxpayers earn more than $400,000 yearly. It’s inevitable that the other 98.2%, who make about 75% of the total income, will also receive increased scrutiny.

The only purpose of hiring an army of new auditors would be to increase collections. Anyone familiar with IRS audits knows that even taxpayers who have done no wrong often capitulate to aggressive harassment. The bottom line is that the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that 70% to 90% of the money raised from unreported income would likely come from those making less than $200,000 per year.

The bill writers, sensing the problem, added this gem: “Nothing in this section is intended to increase taxes on any taxpayer or small business with a taxable income under $400,000.“.

Get it? Nothing here provides actual protection to any lower-income taxpayers. Instead, the party of good intentions is attempting to avoid accountability, while claiming any unfortunate outcomes won’t be their fault.

The Inflation Reduction Act, it is now well established, will not reduce inflation and won’t reduce the deficit either, according to the bipartisan Joint Committee on Taxation. Instead, all of us will pay for this boondoggle by 1) forking over more money to the IRS (see above) 2) the effects of the new 15% corporate minimum tax passed on to workers and consumers and 3) another government spending spree which will (again) be inflationary. Even Bernie Sanders gets it this time.

But the damage doesn’t stop there, as Steve Moore recently noted in the Wall Street Journal. The IRA would transfer $250 billion from Big Pharma to Big Climate.

Bad idea. Pharmaceutical companies spend $100 billion yearly on R&D, bringing us life-saving and misery-reducing drugs which have, among other benefits, reduced death rates from cancer and heart disease by half in the last 50 years.

The IRA price controls would inhibit innovation with a resulting cost in lost years of life estimated to be 30 times that from Covid, in addition to the increased human suffering and economic losses.

The climate change funds will go mainly to subsidies for wind and solar, which after decades of “start-up” funding produce 7% of America’s total energy. They’re not only unreliable but expensive too. A University of Texas study showed subsidies per megawatt hour of electricity range from 50 cents for coal up to $43 to $320 for solar. Yet we’re going to spend $380 billion more to chase the chimera of avoiding mostly inevitable climate change by vastly reducing our quality of life.

Americans deserve better governments than this. Passing trillion dollars spending bills for no essential reason has become the new normal.

It’s tempting to feel helpless, but what we can do is vote smarter. For starters, Arizonans should remember this in November: Mark Kelly was a tie-breaking vote on the Inflation Reduction Act. With just 51 votes, it couldn’t have passed without him.

He campaigns as a bipartisan centrist but votes like a socialist. It’s time for us to wise up.

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Thomas C. Patterson, MD is a retired Emergency Medicine physician, Arizona state Senator and Arizona Senate Majority Leader in the ’90s. He is a former Chairman, Goldwater Institute.

 

Is the Inflation Reduction Act Really a Climate Policy Game-Changer?

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

Supporters of the Inflation Reduction Act are touting it as a game-changer on climate politics. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman – who may be a bit given to hyperbole where partisan politics is involved – has even suggested the Democrats may have just saved civilization itself. Conversely, some leftist critics of the bill argue it will do little to combat climate change because it also mandates oil leasing on federal lands, meaning continued use of fossil fuels for the foreseeable future. So what is it? Game changer or failed opportunity? Or, to adopt the weak student’s favorite thesis statement, is it a bit of both?

At the risk of being a weak student, I argue that it is a bit of both. Politically, by being the first successful bill that is explicitly aimed at targeting climate change – even if the Democrats had to hide that with a disingenuous name – it may be a game-changer. For the first time, the U.S. has taken legislative action that, at least for now, commits it to active policies that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as opposed to just stated goals. Whether these policies will survive the 2024 presidential and congressional elections is unknowable, of course. Potentially this all gets repealed within a few years, forcing Democrats to start from scratch. But if not, it sets the stage for marginal enhancements in the future, just as the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts were successively strengthened in years following their original passage.

But on the actual policy level, the gains appear to be much more marginal than revolutionary. That’s not because of the oil lease mandates, but because of the marginal nature of the policies themselves.

Renewable Energy Investments

Much has been made of the expected great effect of production and investment tax credits on solar and wind power. But these are not new, they are extensions of existing tax credits that were due to expire this year. The investment tax credits, for example, have been extended to projects whose construction begins before January 1, 2025, and it is reasonable to assume they will yet again be extended after that, at least if Democrats control the government after the 2024 elections, or whenever they again do.

Solar power is still bogged down with supply chain issues and a federal investigation into alleged Chinese dumping. Not surprisingly, federal policy is at war with itself. We want more solar as fast as we can possibly install it, but we also want to design our foreign and economic policy around limiting Chinese, and promoting domestic, production. 

In addition, installing more solar has limited value unless and until we can expand transmission lines to move it from where it’s produced to where it’s needed. Every model you may have seen that argues the U.S. can advance to 85 percent or more of renewables penetration in our energy supply is built on the assumption that this vast increase in our trans-continental transmission capability is built out. But that’s primarily under the control of states and communities. There is no unitary national policy or authority managing it.

The act grants $10 billion to the development of infrastructure for clean tech manufacturing, including wind turbines, solar panels, and electric vehicles. This is likely to be most heavily fought over by Atlantic Coast states, as they are the most advanced in developing offshore wind. But this is not the game-changer it might appear to be. It’s actually just federal money substituting for state and private funds that are effectively already committed. Federal subsidies don’t always make things happen that otherwise wouldn’t; sometimes they just appear to.

The act extends investment and production tax credits for renewable energy. But these credits have been repeatedly extended. They are the subsidy that never ends, despite claims that wind and solar are now cost-competitive with fossil fuel electricity production. So this is perhaps the single most predictable element of the bill. The most substantive change here is that to get the full amount of the subsidies (30 percent for investment tax credits, and $0.015 per kilowatt hour for production tax credits), firms must pay so-called prevailing wages. If anything, that added labor cost constrains renewables development at the margin by increasing its cost.

Zero-emission Vehicle Subsidies

The subsidies for electric vehicles also are a continuation of past policy, rather than a substantively new policy, although this time it includes a tax credit for used zero-emission vehicles. But they come with new limitations that may hinder their effectiveness. In an effort to minimize the extent to which such subsidies have been a gift to the well-to-do, there are both income limits and limits on the cost of electric vehicles to which the subsidies can be applied. But these are still expensive cars, so to the extent, the subsidy increases purchases instead of subsidizing purchases that would have happened anyway, they will be at the margin of those who were close to considering one anyway.

Worse, the subsidies will apply only to vehicles with batteries mostly built or assembled in the U.S. and with critical battery materials extracted or processed in North America or other countries with which the U.S. has a free trade agreement. The tax credit is split into two halves, with one half applying to each of those categories.

The assembly requirement begins at 50 percent and increases to 100 percent after 2028. The critical materials requirement starts at 40 percent and increases annually up to 80 percent after 2026. Most materials are mined outside the U.S. (and the Biden administration has made it difficult to open mines domestically), and China is the leading processor. It is questionable whether supply chains can adapt on such a rapid schedule.

By mixing social, economic, and foreign policy together, Congress likely has limited the effect of the continued subsidy on ZEV sales.

Consumer Home Appliances and Energy Efficiency Investments

The act does provide some real benefit for consumers who want to, or in some states will be forced to, switch to electric appliances. Rebates of up to $840 for electric ovens or electric heat pump clothes dryers will be available, which is roughly two-thirds of the cost. Heat pump water heaters will get up to a 50 percent rebate. At a cost of over $1,500, these will still not be cheap, but for a family that’s forced to replace their water heater, it could make these more efficient appliances cost-competitive.

Homeowners will also be able to claim up to $4,000 for electric service upgrades and up to $2,500 for wiring to service the additional electrical draw from these appliances, a significant portion of the cost.

Less generous is the support for heat pumps – only up to $8,000 – and rooftop solar. The average cost of rooftop solar is around $20,000, and the tax credit is only 30 percent, leaving the average homeowner to pay $14,000 upfront for a system that may take decades to pay itself off. There are likely better things for most homeowners to do with their money, and this is likely to be taken advantage of primarily by those who were seriously considering installing solar anyway.

The act also provides only minimal support for full weatherization of older houses, 50 percent of project cost or $4,000, whichever is less. But full weatherization can cost $20-50,000 dollars, depending on the size of the house.

Effect on Global warming

But all that doesn’t get to the climate activists’ primary concern, which is the net effect on the U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.

The claims for the policy are a very aggressive increase in the decarbonization of the American economy. Roger Pielke reports that between 2005 and 2021 the intensity of carbon use per unit of GDP declined annually by between 4.3 percent and 4.6 percent per year, and notes that the claims for the IRA are a decarbonization rate of 11 percent per year through 2031. He asks whether that’s likely, and answers, “No, in my view, not remotely.” Anyone familiar with the venerable tradition of over-selling the effects of public policy are probably inclined to agree with him.

Summary

To sum this up, many of these policies are continuations of old policies, rather than a revolution. At the margin the act will help some people replace worn out appliances with electric ones, or electrify and make their homes more energy efficient. And the ZEV subsidies try to accomplish such conflicting goals that they are likely to have minimal effect on sales. In short, none of these policies are game changers. The only way this bill changes the game is if Democrats can keep Republicans from repealing it, or if Republicans (as with the Affordable Care Act) make a game show of pretending to try to repeal it without ever seriously intending to, which is a real possibility as more of them believe in climate change than are willing to say to their constituents. The act could then, in the tradition of previous environmental policies, be the basis for piecemeal expansion in subsequent years.

That may happen, but you bet on it at your own risk.

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This article was published by AIER, the American Institute for Economic Research, and is reproduced with permission.

With 87,000 New Agents on Way, 4 Facts About IRS Gun Arsenal

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Some of the 87,000 new agents whom Democrats propose to hire at the Internal Revenue Service could come with some extra firepower.

On Friday, House Democrats gave final passage to the tax and spending bill they dubbed the Inflation Reduction Act, which, among other things, would double the size of the IRS with 87,000 new agents to beef up enforcement.

As of two years ago, the IRS had an arsenal of 4,600 guns, reported OpenTheBooks, a government watchdog group. 

Two federal investigations in the past decade found that IRS agents had not been sufficiently trained and were accident-prone with the weapons they have. Armed IRS raids on nonviolent taxpayers surfaced as a concern almost 25 years ago during a Senate hearing. 

Democrats’ bill, which the Senate passed Sunday, awaits the signature of President Joe Biden should it clear the House as early as Friday [it did].

The legislation, which unwinds from 2023 through 2031, would devote $80 billion to expanding the IRS and boosting tax revenue to pay for Democrats’ green energy subsidies and other pet projects.

Americans for Tax Reform, a conservative group that opposes the legislation, assembled information about the IRS arsenal from government and media reports.

During the House floor debate Friday, Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., raised concerns about arming IRS agents.

“This bill has new IRS agents and they are armed, and the job description tells them that they need to be required to carry a firearm and expect to use deadly force if necessary,” Boebert said. “Excessive taxation is theft. You are using the power of the federal government for armed robbery on the taxpayers.”

Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., suggested that no IRS agents are armed.

“The idea that they are armed—I know that Ms. Boebert would like everybody to be armed, but that’s not what IRS agents do,” Yarmuth said. “I would implore my Republican colleagues to cut out the scare tactics. Quit making things up.”

In a posted job opening for a special agent, the IRS specified that applicants should be “willing and able to participate in arrests, execution of search warrants, and other dangerous assignments,” and able to carry “a firearm and be willing to use deadly force, if necessary.”

After sparking some controversy amid the proposed expansion of the agency, the IRS deleted “willing to use deadly force” from the job description.

The IRS referred questions to the Treasury Department as to whether the arsenal would increase as the number of personnel multiplied.

The Treasury Department did not immediately respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment for this report.

Here are four key things to know about the Internal Revenue Service and weapons.

1. IRS Guns and Ammo

The current IRS workforce includes 78,661 full-time employees, so Democrats’ legislation, if passed as written, would more than double the agency’s employees.

A 2020 report from OpenTheBooks, titled “The Militarization of the U.S. Executive Agencies,” shows that the IRS Criminal Investigation division has a stockpile of 4,600 guns.

The firearms include 3,282 pistols, 621 shotguns, 539 rifles, 15 fully automatic firearms, and four revolvers, the report says.

The Government Accountability Office, a federal watchdog agency, reported in 2018 that the IRS had 3.1 million rounds of ammunition for pistols and revolvers. 

The tax agency had 1.4 million rounds of ammunition for rifles, the GAO report said, along with 367,750 shotgun rounds and 56,000 rounds for automatic weapons.

2. Armed Agents ‘Not Properly Trained’

The IRS’s National Criminal Investigation Training Academy has the responsibility to implement firearms training and a related qualification program nationwide.

However, IRS agents assigned to the Criminal Investigation division regularly failed to stay up to date with training or to report incidents of improper firearms use, according to a 2018 report from the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration.

The inspector general’s report notes that “there is no national-level review of firearms training records to ensure that all special agents meet the qualification requirements.”

“Special agents not properly trained in the use of firearms could endanger the public, as well as their fellow special agents, and expose the IRS to possible litigation over injuries or for damages,” the report says.

For qualification, each agent must score 75% or higher on the firing range, but the IRS lacked documentation showing its agents met the standards, according to the inspector general.

The report says that 79 of the 459 special agents in the agency’s long gun cadre failed to meet standard qualification requirements. Further, the report says the IRS could not provide information about whether 1,500 special agents were trained in tactical equipment proficiency.

In fiscal year 2016, the inspector general’s report determined, that the IRS Criminal Investigation division “did not maintain documented evidence that 145 out of 2,126 special agents met the firearm standards established by CI [Criminal Investigation] and therefore were not qualified law enforcement officers.”

3. More Unintended Discharges Than Intended Ones

The poor firearms training for IRS agents has led to more accidental firings than intentional firings, according to a separate inspector general’s report from 2012. 

“Having the availability of deadly force puts hiring so many new agents into perspective,” Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, told The Daily Signal.

The inspector general for tax administration “found they fired their guns more times by accident than on purpose,” Norquist said. “I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.”

The poor training was not a new problem, since the 2012 report from the inspector general found similar issues with firearms training.

“If there is insufficient oversight, special agents in possession of firearms who are not properly trained and qualified could endanger other special agents and the public,” the report says.

The 2012 report not only found that IRS agents fired their weapons by accident more times than intentionally, but that the agency concealed details about the accidental discharges.

“There were a total of eight firearm discharges classified as intentional use of force incidents and 11 discharges classified as accidental during FYs 2009 through 2011,” the report says.

And, the inspector general’s report continues, “we found that four accidental discharges were not properly reported.”

It says that “the accidental discharges may have resulted in property damage or personal injury.”

The public report, however, redacts four references to unreported accidental discharges of firearms.

4. IRS History of Armed Raids

In 1998, the Senate Finance Committee held investigative hearings into IRS abuses that featured testimony from a Virginia restaurant owner.

The restaurant owner said that armed IRS agents with drug-sniffing dogs burst into his restaurant during breakfast hours and ordered customers to get out.

Agents took his cash register and records, the restaurant owner told the Senate committee. When he returned home, he found that his door had been kicked open and his residence had been raided.

A tax preparer from Oklahoma gave similar testimony, saying that about 15 armed IRS agents came to his business and harassed his clients.

The owner of a Texas oil company recounted that agents came to his office and told employees: “Remove your hands from the keyboards and back away from the computers. And remember, we’re armed!”

In each case, the agents came up empty-handed.

The Washington Post reported at the time that Democrat and Republican lawmakers alike expressed dismay and that the Clinton administration’s IRS commissioner, Charles O. Rossotti, promised an investigation of such actions.

At a separate hearing that year before the same Senate committee, Treasury Department’s inspector general, Harry G. Patsalides, told senators that the IRS had tolerated car thefts and anonymous bullying by promoting an agent accused of sexual harassment and allowing agents to conduct armed raids on nonviolent taxpayers.

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This article was published by Daily Signal and is reproduced with permission.

The “Inflation Reduction Act” Will Do Almost Nothing That Joe Manchin Says It Will

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Editors Note: The following is an excellent analysis of this atrocious piece of legislation. While the “devil is in the details”, we cannot forget that our own Senator, Krysten Sinema, and Joe Manchin are the two people that previously held the line against Build Back Better, only to cave on a slightly less expensive version. But, they were hardly alone as it took complete Democrat Party loyalty to pull this off. But closer to home, when you think of a hoard of bureaucrats driving up the price of gasoline and auditing your returns, remember BOTH Senators from Arizona voted for this monstrosity. They are betting we will forget. We won’t. We have a chance to vote out Kelly this fall. Let’s get on with it. Donate time, money, and effort. If it is not worth the effort now, then when?

 

In a major reversal, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D–WV) struck a deal with Senator Chuck Schumer (D–NY) to enact a major climate, entitlement, and tax bill. This legislation has been praised by President Biden, Al Gore, and other proponents of highly progressive policies.

Dubbed the “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022,” Senate Democrats voted to pass this bill only 11 days after releasing its 725 pages of text. Democrats are pushing this bill so rapidly through Congress that the Congressional Budget Office estimates it won’t be able to “provide a complete cost estimate for the legislation” until more than a week after Congress is expected to pass it.

Manchin’s press release claims the law will:

  • “address record inflation by paying down our national debt, lowering energy costs and lowering healthcare costs.”
  • “displace dirtier products” and ensure “American energy is affordable, reliable, clean and secure.”
  • bring “good paying energy and manufacturing jobs back to America.”
  • “make America more energy secure” and “financially sound.”
  • not raise taxes on “families and small businesses making less than $400,000 a year.”
  • “lower the cost of healthcare for working families and small businesses.”
  • support “the everyday hardworking Americans we have been elected to serve.”
  • adopt “a tax policy that protects small businesses and working-class Americans….”

In reality, the legislation will do almost none of what Manchin claims it will—and often the exact opposite. If it becomes law, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 will:

  • have no material impact on inflation.
  • increase pollution by subsidizing electric vehicles, which emit more toxic pollutants over their lifespans than normal cars.
  • enrich “green” energy investors while doing little-to-nothing to help workers.
  • raise energy costs and make America poorer by subsidizing products that are much more expensive.
  • harm the manufacturing sector.
  • enact hidden taxes that fall on Americans of all income groups.
  • reduce incentives to work by giving people more welfare.
  • increase the costs of prescription drugs for working Americans by pushing more of the research and development costs onto them.
  • target wealthy people with IRS audits while letting the vast bulk of tax dodgers continue cheating the honest taxpayers of America.

For more details and thorough documentation of these facts, continue reading.

The very name of the “Inflation Reduction Act” and nearly everything Joe Manchin has said about it is a farce that betrays his promise to support “the everyday hardworking Americans we have been elected to serve.” Contrary to Manchin’s claims that his bill will:

  • reduce inflation, there is no credible evidence it would do so.
  • “displace dirtier products,” it heavily subsidizes electric vehicles, which emit more pollution over their lifespans than normal cars.
  • will bring “good paying energy and manufacturing jobs back to America,” it will enrich green energy investors while neglecting workers and harming the manufacturing sector.
  • lower energy costs, it enacts a form of stealth spending to subsidize energy products that are far more costly than other options.
  • not raise taxes on “families and small businesses making less than $400,000 a year,” it does exactly that by enacting hidden taxes that fall on Americans of all income groups.
  • “lower the cost of health insurance,” it will make taxpayers pick up the tab by forcing them to pay Obamacare subsidies for people with incomes above 400% of the poverty line.
  • “lower the cost” of prescription drugs, it will simply shift more of those costs onto working Americans.
  • ensure people “making less than $400,000 and small businesses will not be targeted” by the IRS “because they are already paying their taxes,” the bill will let the vast bulk of tax dodgers continue cheating the honest taxpayers of America.

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This article was published by Just Facts and is reproduced with permission.

 

Democrats’ Green Energy ‘Transition’ Costs You Way More And Gives You Way Less

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

The Inflation Reduction Act raises taxes on the middle class and will sabotage the country’s power grid by making green energy unavoidable.

 

Democrats and their leftist allies are celebrating the U.S. Senate’s passage of the misnamed “Inflation Reduction Act.” Subject to a vote out of the Rules Committee mid-week, it’s expected that H.R. 5376 will be voted on in the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday or over the weekend at the latest. 

The Democrats’ tax and spending bill weighs in at more than 750 pages and covers a wide range of issues from health care to energy. What it doesn’t do is reduce inflation. What it does do is raise taxes in a recession. Violating a key campaign promise of Joe Biden, the bill raises taxes on people making less than $400,000 a year.

When natural gas prices are approaching historical highs, the bill also raises taxes on natural gas, including for household use, by $6.5 billion. This amounts to an average family shelling out 17 percent more for natural gas. With $12 billion in additional taxes on oil and $1.2 billion on coal, Democrats are aggressively pursuing a large-scale “transition” to green energy.

Perhaps Congress should have first asked the Germans how their transition — known there as “Energiewende” — is working out. With German power prices soaring even before Russia invaded Ukraine, Germans are increasingly turning back the clock to coal and, in some cases, even further back to wood. 

Ironically, the Inflation Reduction Act has a provision that provides $2,000 for the installation of “A biomass stove or boiler which (has) a thermal efficiency rating of at least 75 percent.” A “biomass stove” is a fancy term for a wood-burning stove.

Burning wood is terrible for air quality. California’s chief air quality regulator warns that burning wood generates carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen (volatile organic compounds that make photochemical smog), ozone, particulates, sulfur dioxide, lead, and mercury. In parts of California, wood burning is banned during air quality alerts. So that fancy $3,000 high-efficiency biomass stove that the federal government underwrote for $2,000 may sit idle on those cold winter days.

The bill also has provisions aimed at preventing tax credits from subsidizing wind, solar, electric vehicles, and batteries that use material from China. But these measures will simply result in substitution: Chinese steel not used in a federally subsidized wind turbine will instead be used in a commercially built high rise.

In 2020, America imported more than $4.6 billion in wind turbines and parts. It’s unclear how rapidly American manufacturing can fill the gap to meet the federally spurred demand. Just in case, the bill has a provision that allows the secretary of energy to waive American provisions if the costs of domestic materials are 25 percent higher than imports from China.

However, an even larger problem hides in plain sight regarding our electric grid. The Inflation Reduction Act doubles down on federal support for wind and solar installations and the costly transmission lines to connect these typically rural facilities with the urban areas that use their power. This problem can be seen in two states that have, for differing reasons, embraced renewable energy: California (mostly solar) and Texas (mostly wind). 

In 2020, the wind power industry installed hardware capable of generating 16.9 gigawatts of wind capacity, almost double the prior year. For perspective, on hot summer days, Texas consumes about 80 gigawatts of power.

But wind power is highly variable. Depending on the location and season, wind turbines produce about 40 percent of their installed capacity.

In Texas, on Aug. 9, the state’s more than 15,000 wind turbines had an installed capacity of about 38 gigawatts — some 29 percent of America’s total wind power — but only generated a peak of 10.4 gigawatts at 2 a.m., falling to 1.4 gigawatts at noon when the power demands were far higher. Thus, Texas’s vast wind farms generated 27 percent of their theoretical capacity at night and less than 4 percent during the day. This is pretty common.

To be useful in a modern nation, an electric grid must reliably generate energy every single hour of every day. As the output from wind power jumps around, it tends to displace reliable hydrocarbon-based power at night, forcing those facilities to curtail their output. Armed with the federal Production Tax Credit, wind producers often pay the grid to take their power — the federal government more than making up for the loss. 

The government constantly reimbursing wind production facilities distorts the marketplace, discouraging investment in power plants that generate dispatchable power. Power plants are able to produce power on demand, unlike wind or solar installations, and the government chooses to subsidize the less effective means of energy production.

H.R. 5376 continues this power grid investment distortion. As a result, every year that sees more wind and solar added to the grid will mean greater pressure on natural gas and coal-fired power plants to close. Without adequate dispatchable power on hand, the grid will become more prone to blackouts or “demand reduction” measures where the “smart grid” will tell your air conditioner to turn off on a hot day.

Further, the cost of electricity will necessarily skyrocket. While federally subsidized wind and solar are “cheap” — if we ignore the billions in needed new transmission lines and the lack of reliability — dependable energy becomes increasingly more expensive as the requirement for standby power and massive battery farms grow.

Thus, H.R. 5376 dumps federal funds on wind and solar while making the grid more unstable and electricity more expensive.

Not to fear, though, the bill appropriates $100 million for studies and modeling to look at the effect of climate change on the grid, batteries, “demand-side management” (which is little more than the remote turning up of your thermostat), and nationalizing the electric grid. So once federal policy makes the grid unstable, the feds will have a plan to take over the mess they created.

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This article was published by The Federalist and is reproduced with permission.

An Open Letter to Senator Sinema

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

Words cannot express my disappointment in your vote on the completely mis-labeled Inflation Reduction Act that was recently voted on. The nation’s inflation rate has never been effectively reduced by spending another pile of tax-payer money that has yet to be collected. In the words of Milton Friedman: “Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon in the sense that it is and can be produced only by a more rapid increase in the quantity of money than in output.”

Most economic analysts suggest that this bill will retard economic growth, reduce jobs and increase inflation. How can this be in the best interests of Arizona’s residents? Only a complete simpleton would look at the content of this senatorial pork-fest and cry: “victory” unless your goal is to drive this nation from recession into the depths of depression.

I was not very enthusiastic about your election to the Senate but you have at least not voted in lock-step with the DNC as your colleague Mr. Kelly has done. It appears now that you have abandoned any economic sense and decided that going ‘green’ at the expense of your constituents is somehow a good idea. 

Bear in mind that the nation of China (which has a greater carbon footprint each month than the US does for the year) will be quitting any and all climate conversations as a result of Ms. Pelosi’s ill-timed and politically provocative trip to Taiwan. I have not seen any outcry from you or any of the other politicians on the Hill for that stupidity. Now, we are supposed to believe that this bill is actually good for the average household.  Try this novel approach – stop spending money you don’t have!  

If you are really interested in reducing the world’s carbon footprint and affecting global warming, stop all this congressional pontification over ‘green’ energy, and let’s get back to energy independence in this country. You will never convince me that the Venezuelans, the Iranians, or the Saudis can produce oil for our nation at a lower climate cost than American producers, and it is certainly not a lower economic cost. 

It may have been a long time since you had to actually produce something to earn your living but, for those of us who do, I cannot find anything in this bill that will make my life any easier and it will undoubtedly raise my cost of living. Thanks for your part in pushing this nation from recession into an outright depression.

A Little Reality About the New Spending Bill

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

The Democrats are masters of misnaming the intended purpose of bills they offer up to disguise what is really happening. It is indicative of how gullible they believe we are. The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 will do nothing to reduce inflation. The main reason is that revenues will not be achieved to offset the expenditures.

This column has a ban on using definitive terminology. I do not use words like Never, Always, or Every. That is because those terms are rarely applicable. However, here is a truism. Whenever there is a projection of revenues that will be produced from a new tax increase, they never come to fruition. Here is another truism. Whenever there is a reduction in tax rates, they always produce increased governmental revenues. I know this because I have both studied and written about it for over 40 years.

This ridiculously named bill has a few major elements of the supposed increase in revenue. Please do not believe the eventual scoring by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The CBO is rarely correct because they do their scoring based on whatever Congress tells them to do. Just think about this: if Schumer named this bill which he did, do you think he gave the CBO realistic numbers on which to do a projection?

The first element of this bill’s increased revenues has to do with money flowing in from audits because of new hires at the IRS. This is an agency that cannot even answer their phones. This is an agency that cannot even process their tax returns – the current estimate is they are twenty million behind, but who really knows? I believe they have finally processed all the 2020 tax returns. They are now digging into the unprocessed 2021 returns. This is an agency that is currently auditing a client of mine and they are having a problem because neither the computer of the auditor nor his supervisor can read a thumb drive I sent them. They cannot read any thumb drives.

Yes, the IRS needs an increased budget to tackle its basic problems which include a wholly inadequate computer system. Agents communicate this regularly. It is compounded by allowing agents to work from home which has significantly impacted IRS production because of these inadequate systems. If the system does not work well when they are sitting in front of their office screens, how well do you think they operate remotely?

Until they fix these problems, how are they going to hire a slew of new people to perform audits? And where are they getting all these new personnel to work at the most reviled agency in the country? We cannot get people to work at our restaurants, car repair shops, or appliance stores. So how is the IRS going to get qualified personnel to work their audits? How many people graduating college with an accounting degree are going to work for the IRS when there is a shortage of personnel at accounting firms with a much more attractive environment and future? They may be able to hire people with sociology or geography degrees who can only get jobs as bartenders. How long do you think it will take them to get prepared to audit your tax return? How long to audit Amazon?

I can say if you should get audited by these people, the process will take at least twice as long as it should because they will be inexperienced. A professional CPA will need to walk them through everything about which they have no clue. So, you tell me, is this $80 billion spent over the next ten years going to bring in an additional $204 billion from all those supposed tax cheats out there? And will spending an additional $8 billion a year on the IRS for the next ten years do anything to reduce inflation in 2022, 2023, or 2024? I think you know that answer.

Then there is the big lie of this bill. It repeals the Trump “rebate rule.” This was a vague rule that has to do with Medicare Part D that was never implemented by Trump, has not been implemented by Biden, and the regulation never going into effect. This is a magical savings of $120 billion that was never implemented and thus becomes “mystery savings.”

Last, we must confront the corporate minimum tax of 15%. Sounds nice. I have read a substantial number of analyses of these corporations that supposedly pay no taxes. We hear this kind of malarkey all the time. I will get a call from a client. They will tell me they spoke to someone, and they were paying no taxes. “Why am I paying so much?” My answer is always they are full of ———. You fill in the blank. Then I tell them to get a copy of the tax return for analysis. And that is the problem, the Left-wing analyses of these “non-paying entities” never include a full analysis of the reasons why these entities are not paying taxes.

They may be getting research credits which Congress created to encourage companies to spend money on research and development with the idea that these companies will maintain or increase their position to be competitive in the world economy. They may be buying Low Income Housing Tax Credits which encourages the development of affordable housing. They may be getting credits for tax paid to foreign countries based on income made in foreign countries just like you may be getting on your investments. If we limit that tax offset, these companies will be paying a lot more than a minimum tax of 15% since they pay tax in America on their worldwide income.

This is the ultimate act of industrial policy initiated by the Democrats. They are throwing money at the computer chip industry and anybody who spends money on their questionable green policies. They want to pay for it by reducing deductions at a group of other companies. Those companies have been allowed to deduct the expense for new equipment and other purchases as opposed to writing them off over seven years or more. That encourages those companies to expand, improve efficiency and safety and hire more Americans. These tax and spending plans are used to steal the money directly from you and me. Now they have lurched into full bore Socialistic government planning policy as if that has worked anywhere.

Remember the age-old truism. Corporations do not pay taxes; they just pass the tax onto their customers or cut jobs.

And the fact that a large portion of the tax increase will come from a group President Biden has stated he would not raise taxes on – those couples making under $400,000 a year. Senators Schumer and Manchin said nothing about that.

The Democrats got their wish with new spending of over $750 billion between the Chips bill and the Inflation Will Continue Unabated Bill. They are never going to get their revenue offset. Mr. Manchin, how naïve you must be.

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This article was published by Flash Report and is reproduced with permission from the author.