Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.
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President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law Tuesday afternoon, the big climate change, tax fairness, and health care reconciliation bill that Democrats passed in record time this month. Biden was joined by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Majority Whip James Clyburn. The big celebration signing will happen next month, when Congress is back in D.C., but enacting the legislation now will start the ball rolling immediately on the many provisions it has to help American consumers and to start reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The promise of this nation is real. The Inflation Reduction Act is not just about today, it's about tomorrow.
It’s about showing that America – and American democracy – works.
Not just for the privileged few. But for all of us.
— President Biden (@POTUS) August 16, 2022
“With this law, the American people have won, and special interests lost,” Biden said. “The American people won, and special interests lost. […] This administration began in a dark time in America, a once-in-a-century pandemic, devastating joblessness, clear and present threats to democracy and the rule of law, doubts about the future of America itself. And yet we have not wavered, we have not flinched, and we have not given in. Instead, we are delivering results for the American people.“
Biden also blasted Republicans for their refusal to support any part of this bill. “In this historic moment, Democrats sided with the American people and every single Republican in the Congress sided with the special interest in this vote, every single one,” Biden said. “The big drug companies spent nearly $100 million to defeat this bill, $100 million. And remember, every single Republican in Congress voted against this bill. Every single Republican in Congress voted against lower prescription prices, negotiating drug costs, a fairer tax system. Every single Republican voted against tackling the climate crisis, against lowering our energy costs, against creating good-paying jobs.”
Biden continued, previewing the message he’s going to take into the midterm elections: “My fellow Americans, that is the choice we face. We can protect the already powerful, or show the courage to build a future where everybody has an even shot. That is the America I believe in. That is what i believe in. And today, we have come a step closer to making that America real.”
Ahead of the official bill signing, the White House provided a briefing memo titled “By the Numbers,” detailing the major provisions of the legislation and how it will move the nation forward.
- 5 to 7 million Medicare beneficiaries could see their prescription drug costs go down because of the provision allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug costs.
- 50 million Americans with Medicare Part D will have peace of mind knowing their costs at the pharmacy are capped at $2,000 per year, directly benefiting about 1.4 million beneficiaries each year.
- 3.3 million Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes will benefit from a guarantee that their insulin costs are capped at $35 for a month’s supply. […]
- 13 million Americans will continue to save an average of $800 per year on health insurance premiums
- 3 million more Americans will have health insurance than without the law. […]
- Families that take advantage of clean energy and electric vehicle tax credits will save more than $1,000 per year.
- $14,000 in direct consumer rebates for families to buy heat pumps or other energy efficient home appliances, saving families at least $350 per year.
- 7.5 million more families will be able to install solar on their roofs with a 30% tax credit, saving families $9,000 over the life of the system or at least $300 per year.
- Up to $7,500 in tax credits for new electric vehicles and $4,000 for used electric vehicles, helping families save $950 per year. […]
- Power homes, businesses, and communities with much more clean energy by 2030, including:
- 950 million solar panels
- 120,000 wind turbines
- 2,300 grid-scale battery plants
- Advance cost-saving clean energy projects at rural electric cooperatives serving 42 million people.
- Strengthen climate resilience and protect nearly 2 million acres of national forests. […]
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 1 gigaton in 2030, or a billion metric tons – 10 times more climate impact than any other single piece of legislation ever enacted.
- Deploy clean energy and reduce particle pollution from fossil fuels to avoid up to 3,900 premature deaths and up to 100,000 asthma attacks annually by 2030. […]
- 15%: the minimum tax on corporate profits the Inflation Reduction Act imposes on the largest, most profitable corporations.
- $124 billion: savings over 10 years the Inflation Reduction Act will generate from collecting taxes already owed by wealthy people and large corporations, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
- And no family making less than $400,000 will see their taxes go up a penny.
To quote Biden at another historic bill signing, “This is a big fucking deal” for the American people.
Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.
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Fox News host Tucker Carlson claimed on Monday that the Biden administration is hiring “87,000 armed IRS agents to make sure you obey,” a wildly inflammatory and false claim that his network’s White House correspondent debunked a few days earlier.
Carlson returned from last week’s vacation with a wild rant about the FBI’s August 8 search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort and residence, which uncovered 11 sets of classified documents, among other materials, that the former president took with him when he left the White House. The Fox host argued that the court-approved search was part of President Joe Biden’s “war on his own population,” specifically targeting “Trump voters” with “acts of aggression and hostility.”
Carlson went on to declare that “just in case you missed the theme here, they're hiring another 87,000 armed IRS agents just to make sure that you obey. Got it?” He was referencing a provision in the Inflation Reduction Act, which Biden will sign into law on Tuesday, which provides $80 billion in funding to the IRS over ten years to raise $124 billion over the same period through increased enforcement targeted at individuals with incomes greater than $400,000.
But the IRA does not specifically provide for the hiring of 87,000 agents, and it certainly doesn’t call for them to be armed. Carlson is mashing together two misleading talking points that the right has taken up as part of its defense of wealthy tax cheats who face increased enforcement.
In recent days, Republicans and their propagandists have endlessly complained that the IRA funds “87,000 new IRS agents.” But that’s not true, as the Associated Press noted in a fact-check:
Last year, before the bill emerged, the Treasury Department had proposed a plan to hire roughly that many IRS employees over the next decade if it got the money. The IRS will be releasing final numbers for its hiring plans in the coming months, according to a Treasury official. But those employees will not all be hired at the same time, they will not all be auditors and many will be replacing employees who are expected to quit or retire, experts and officials say.
The IRS currently has about 80,000 employees, including clerical workers, customer service representatives, enforcement officials, and others. The agency has lost roughly 50,000 employees over the past five years due to attrition, according to the IRS. More than half of IRS employees who work in enforcement are currently eligible for retirement, said Natasha Sarin, the Treasury Department’s counselor for tax policy and implementation.
Carlson, in claiming that the 87,000 new hires will all be “armed,” is glomming on to last week’s right-wing frenzy over an IRS job posting for “Criminal Investigation Special Agents” which stated that the hires will “carry a firearm and be willing to use deadly force, if necessary.” Some online conspiracy theorists incorrectly interpreted this as a signal that the 87,000 new IRS employees supposedly hired under the IRA would all carry guns.
In fact, as the AP noted, special agents with IRS Criminal Investigation, a division which dates to 1919 and is the only one in which employees are armed, only constitute about 2.5 percent of the service’s total staff. “The job description does not apply to most potential new employees that the IRS will hire in the coming years,” according to the AP.
Carlson’s “news side” colleague, White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich, also posted a Twitter thread on Saturday debunking the claim that he made two days later. She reported that, per a treasury official, “a tiny fraction of the agency’s new hires, ~1%,” would be armed special agents. She also pointed out that those agents work on “big public corruption, narcotics, and money laundering cases” and would “never” come in contact with “the average American.”
🧵Thread: the IRS is NOT hiring an army of gun-toting tax collectors using new Inflation Reduction Act funding.— Jacqui Heinrich (@JacquiHeinrich) August 13, 2022
A treasury official tells me a tiny fraction of the agency’s new hires, ~1%, would be for IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agents.
Heinrich has just under 93,000 followers on Twitter, while Carlson’s Fox show regularly attracts more than 3 million viewers.
Carlson’s falsehood follows a week of unhinged demagoguery from Fox and others in the right-wing media that links the new IRS funding with the Mar-a-Lago search as dark signs that the Biden administration has weaponized the government against Americans. Fox pundits have described the potential wave of IRS hiring as an “economic, financial militia against regular people” deployed by those who “want to control you”; a “new army” that will “hunt down and kill middle class taxpayers”; a “new Gestapo” Biden will use in an “abusive, corrupt manner”; “a Praetorian Guard that will be unleashed again” to “grab all the cash they can by any means necessary”; and “part of an orchestrated campaign to target Americans and have the federal government be at war with those Americans.”
The out-of-control tenor of right-wing attacks on the IRS has triggered concerns that its employees may be subject to violence.
“Given the social media chatter we’re already seeing, it’s all too easy to imagine individuals using these conspiracy theories as justification for violence against public servants and their families,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said in a statement last week. “It’s unbelievable that we even need to say this, but there are not going to be 87,000 armed IRS agents going door-to-door with assault weapons. This is funding for answering phone calls and upgrading computer systems.”
Attorney General Merrick Garland, FBI director Christopher Wray, and the magistrate judge who signed off on the Mar-a-Lago search warrant have all received an uptick in death threats since last Monday’s search, leading to a joint intelligence bulletin from the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security warning about the prospect of violence against federal officials.
On Friday, an armed Trump supporter who had called for the murder of federal agents following the search attacked the FBI field office in Cincinnati, Ohio, and was later killed in a shoot-out with police.
Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.
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