FBI Controversy Fuels Republican Attacks on IRS

FBI Controversy Fuels Republican Attacks on IRS

Greg Lovett - USA Today Network
By Yuval Rosenberg and Michael Rainey
Thursday, August 18, 2022

Happy Thursday! Today is the 230th day of 2022, which seems to be speeding by. On this date in 1920, the 19th Amendment was ratified, guaranteeing a constitutional right to vote for American women.

We’ll be back in your inbox on Monday. As always, send your tips and comments to yrosenberg@thefiscaltimes.com.

FBI Search at Mar-a-Lago Fuels GOP Attacks on IRS

The FBI’s search last week of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate has helped fuel GOP attacks on Democrats’ newly passed Inflation Reduction Act and its $80 billion in additional funding for the Internal Revenue Service.

The Washington Post’s Mariana Sotomayor reports:

“[A]s Republicans work to find their message in the days after their standard-bearer’s Florida residence was searched by the FBI, the verbal attacks on federal law enforcement have become enmeshed with another talking point tied to a totally different issue: the idea that Democrats are supercharging a tax agency to surveil regular Americans.
“Both issues came to a head last week as House Republicans returned to Washington to vote against the Inflation Reduction Act days after the search at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property, riling up supporters by conjoining the two issues as examples of extreme federal government overreach by Democrats. …
“While Republican members have stretched the truth about what the funding would do, the talking points are unlikely to go away.”

Another line of GOP criticism: The Hill’s Emily Brooks also notes that Republicans have sought to link the new IRS funding with Trump supporters’ outrage about the FBI search, feeding anti-government sentiment by suggesting that if the feds could go after the former president they could come after anyone.

Brooks adds, though, that some Republicans have also made a different argument: That the tax code should be simplified so that the IRS doesn’t need billions more dollars for enforcement.

“It’s kind of unnecessary,” Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) told reporters last week. “If you think that … the tax code is so complicated and difficult to enforce, then maybe simplify the tax code. That would be the proper solution to that instead of just trying to catch Middle America in their mistakes, which you obviously will make if you do your own taxes. It’s pretty difficult.”

Quote of the Day

"I think there's probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate. Senate races are just different, they're statewide, candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), when asked at an event in Kentucky Thursday for his midterm election forecast, per NBC News.

Politico’s Anthony Adragna points out that McConnell is deft at dodging questions when he wants to, making this prediction notable. “It comes on the heels of a rough week for Senate Republican contenders. [In Pennsylvania,] Mehmet Oz (R), down double digits in the polls to Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D), has weathered a viral video of him shopping for crudité. And the Senate Leadership Fund plans to spend $28 million in Ohio to help J.D. Vance in Ohio, as Rep. Tim Ryan (D) has proved surprisingly strong in that contest.”

White House Accelerates Its Response to Monkeypox

The Biden administration said Thursday that it is ramping up its response to the outbreak of monkeypox in the U.S. by speeding the delivery of vaccines and making another 1.8 million doses available for ordering starting August 22. Access to the new supply will be limited to locations that have already used 90% of their initial vaccine allotments and agreed to administer the vaccine intradermally — a technique that allows a single dose to be divided and used on five people, with shots going just under the skin.

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra told reporters that the public health response is entering “a new phase” following the declaration of a national health emergency. “The fluid and collaborative allocation of vaccines and treatments to our partners will continue as part of this latest phase, but we will also now surge and target vaccines and treatments when and where that can be most effective,” Becerra said.

An agreement between a European manufacturer and an American packaging firm is a key part of the plan. Bavarian Nordic, the Denmark-based producer of the only vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and Michigan-based Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing will work together to package the 2.5 million doses of the Jynneos vaccine that the Biden administration ordered in July. The collaboration is expected to reduce a nine-month process to three months.

“This partnership between Bavarian Nordic and GRAM will significantly increase the capacity to fill and finish government-owned doses – for the first time in the U.S. – and allow us to deliver our current and future supply more quickly to locations nationwide,” White House monkeypox response coordinator Bob Fenton said in a statement.

New outreach program: HHS said it was launching a pilot program that aims to reach members of the LGBTQ community by providing vaccines at large social events, with a special emphasis on providing vaccines for gay and bisexual men, who account for a majority of new infections. Of the 13,500 cases identified in the U.S. so far, 93% were among men who reported recent sexual contact with other men.


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