Ex-IRS Whistleblower Says Middle Class Targeted Under Inflation Bill

William Henck, a former Internal Revenue Service lawyer who was forced out after making allegations of internal malfeasance, said the government will target middle-income Americans with new audits under the Inflation Reduction Act.

Henck, who worked at the IRS for 30 years until departing in 2017, slammed the IRS and others who have argued additional funding would only result in increased audits for billionaires and corporations. The Inflation Reduction Act, which President Biden signed into law , would nearly double the IRS’ budget, appropriating an additional $79 billion to the agency over the next decade.

“The idea that they’re going to open things up and go after these big billionaires and large corporations is quite frankly bulls–t,” Henck told FOX Business in an interview. “It’s not going to happen. They’re going to give themselves bonuses and promotions and really nice conferences.”

“The big corporations and the billionaires are probably sitting back laughing right now,” he continued.

Henck added that he thought it was “insane” to double the agency’s budget. He said the IRS will target businesses who don’t have enough money to hire Washington lobbyists.

Americans with an annual income of less than $75,000 would be subject to nearly 711,000 new IRS audits under the legislation, according to a House GOP analysis that used historic audit rates. By comparison, individuals making more than $500,000 will receive about 95,000 additional audits as a result of the Inflation Reduction Act.

However, IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig pushed back on reports of new audits, saying “audit rates” would remain the same and that the bill was “absolutely not about increasing audit scrutiny on small businesses or middle-income Americans.” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters last week that there would be no new audits for people making less than $400,000 per year.

“There will be considerable incentive to basically to shake down taxpayers, and the advantage the IRS has is they have basically unlimited resources and no accountability, whereas a taxpayer has to weigh the cost of accountants, tax lawyers — fighting something in tax court,” Henck told FOX Business.

New hires at the IRS will also be assigned simpler cases, Henck said, meaning an added focus on small-business audits.

“If you own a roofing company, you better count on getting audited because that’s what they’re going to be doing,” he continued. “They’re going to be going after your car dealerships, roofing companies.”

Henck said during his time at the agency, he had observed IRS agents specifically targeting elderly taxpayers, some of whom were World War II veterans, because they could easily be forced into settlements.

“I protested both internally and externally, but I was ignored,” he told FOX Business. “In their last days on Earth, these taxpayers were being bullied by the same government they had fought for as young men and no one cared.”

Click here to read the full article at NY Post

Congress Just Passed the Inflation Reduction Act. It Will Hike Taxes on Some Middle-class Households.

It also spends billions on new green energy programs, and it lets the IRS hire 87,000 new agents.

Congressional Democrats have put the finishing touches on a questionable bet: that higher taxes will help tame rising prices, and that voters will reward the effort.

On Friday afternoon, the House of Representatives approved a $300 billion tax hike with a party-line vote, 220–207, sending the Inflation Reduction Act to President Joe Biden’s desk. It passed the Senate with a similar party-line vote on Sunday.

Despite the bill’s name, independent analysts have found it will have virtually no impact on inflation. In reality, it is a pared-down version of what Biden originally pitched as the “Build Back Better” plan—it leaves aside much of the original bill’s spending, but it maintains a huge corporate tax increase, huge spending on green energy initiatives, and a plan to swell the ranks of IRS agents. What was originally a roughly $4 trillion proposal that would have relied heavily on borrowing ended up being something of a rarity in Washington: a bill that will raise more revenue than it spends.

And where will it get that revenue? Quite possibly from you. Households earning as little as $50,000 annually are more likely to see a tax increase than a tax break from the legislation.

In the final hours before the House vote, the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) completed a breakdown of how the bill’s corporate tax increases would affect households at various income levels. The JTC, a nonpartisan number-crunching agency within Congress, found that households earning between $50,000 and $75,000 are more likely to see a tax increase than a tax decrease next year.

Higher-earning households are more likely to see tax increases, but households earning more than $1 million next year are actually far more likely than lower-earning households to get a tax break.

That fits with what The Tax Foundation, a tax policy think tank, found when it analyzed the bill. The Inflation Reduction Act will “would also reduce average after-tax incomes for taxpayers across every income quintile over the long run,” the Tax Foundation reported on Wednesday. Those tax increases will reduce long-term economic output by about 0.2 percent and could eliminate 29,000 jobs, the group found.

Democrats pushed the bill as a cost-cutting measure that would help Americans make ends meet, reduce the federal budget deficit, and help protect the environment.

“It makes a difference at the kitchen table,” Pelosi said at a press conference on Friday morning. “And at the board room table, corporations will now have to pay their fair share.”

If only those two things could be separated as cleanly as Pelosi implies. Tax increases on corporations get passed along from the board room table to the kitchen table in a variety of ways: lower pay for workers, higher prices for consumers, and smaller investment returns for shareholders.

As Reason has detailed a length in recent weeks, other aspects of the bill also leave much to be desired. It would dedicate about $300 billion of new revenue to reduce the long-term budget deficit, but that aspect of the bill is probably better understood as a plan to actually pay for about an eighth of the borrowing that Congress has approved since Biden took office. Meanwhile, giving the IRS a massive budget boost so it can hire 87,000 new agents likely means more tax audits aimed at the middle class, no matter what Democrats are currently claiming. The expanded subsidies for purchasing of health insurance via the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces is likely to push inflation higher. And the bill’s aim to reduce carbon emissions to 40 percent below 2005 levels by 2031 may be plausible, but just barely.

Perhaps the only aspect of the Inflation Reduction Act that’s as bizarre as its name is the meta-analysis of the bill that’s been taking place in political media. Its passage is a “win” that “could give Democrats a boost heading into the midterms,” according to NPR. It “will help validate the Democrats’ monopoly on political power in Washington and hand Joe Biden a notable presidential legacy ahead of November’s midterm elections,” gushed CNN’s Stephen Collinson.

Time will tell, but this sounds like a reprise of the claims that were made after last year’s bipartisan infrastructure package—which, regardless of what you think about its merits, plainly hasn’t done much to reverse Biden’s flagging approval rating.

Click here to read the full article at Reason

Biden Opts to Redefine ‘Recession’ Rather Than Beat It

Apparently it’s not a recession unless Biden cronies say it is.

What everybody thought constituted a recession no longer does.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis announced that gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 0.9 percent in the second quarter. This follows a 1.6 percent contraction in the first quarter.

Recession, right?

Well, heretofore two consecutive quarters of a shrinking economy meant recession. But our betters in the Biden administration gaslight enlighten us into seeing not the downturn before our eyes but an apparition of expanding economies past. Redefining recessions matters when they occur on the watch of Democrats at the levers of power who soon will face an angry electorate.

Since the Biden administration could teach a masterclass in spin but would fail Economics 101, the White House expends considerable energy on solving this terrible problem, this terrible problem of recalcitrants stuck on the idea that an economy in recession, well, recedes.

Whoever imagined that recession meant receding GDP never talked to National Economic Council Director Brian Deese. The Chip Diller of the Biden administration told CNN on Sunday that “in terms of the technical definition” two straight quarters of a contracting GDP actually is “not a recession.” He informed, “[The] technical definition considers a much broader spectrum of data points.”

Phew. For a minute it looked as though the twin terrors of Stagflation that plagued the Carter years now also would bedevil the Biden presidency. Good to know the real issue involves merely educating Americans that they do not know what they know and do not experience what they experience. Why did not Jimmy Carter think of this first?

President Biden doubled down on promoting public relations over sound economics on Thursday by claiming that “we’re not in a recession” according to the economists he respects and by boasting of a deal struck in the Senate that raises taxes, or, as the president put it, forces the wealthy and “the largest corporations in America to pay their fair share.” While common sense suggests to not raise taxes during a recession, Biden insists he does not do this because no recession exists.

The New York Times and the Washington Post quickly spread the gospel according to Joe Biden and Brian Deese.

Paul Krugman warned in the Times that “it would be foolish to declare that we’re in a recession even if Thursday’s number is negative and the first-quarter number isn’t revised upward.” Best, he explained, to wait for the word from “the people who actually decide whether we’re in a recession.”

What people? The American people who make up the market? Well, no. It turns out just eight professors.

Writes Krugman of the National Bureau of Economic Research:

Since 1978 the N.B.E.R. has had a standing group of experts called the Business Cycle Dating Committee, which decides — with a lag — when a recession began and ended based on multiple criteria, including employment, industrial production and so on. And the US government accepts those rulings. So the official definition of a recession is that it is a period that the committee has declared a recession; it’s an expert judgment call, not a formula.

Will this “lag” last beyond November, and did these experts vote for Joe Biden?

“The eight economists on the committee are among the most respected in their field,” the Washington Post maintains. “Some have served in Democratic administrations, but past members have also included GOP appointees.”

Past members, huh?

Current members include James Stock, who gave at least $1,000 each to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Pete Buttigieg. He sent $2,800 to Biden’s 2020 campaign. David Romer, who also sits on this council of elders, donated $5,600 to Joe Biden in the last presidential cycle. His wife, Christina Romer, chaired the council of economic advisors during the Obama administration before becoming part of this elite eight.

What the committee lacks in balance it makes up for in transparency, right?

Reports the Washington Post:The committee’s meetings are not publicized. They’re held in a closed-door conference room on the third floor of the Cambridge, Mass., office building where NBER is headquartered. They don’t meet on a fixed schedule: Board Chairman and Stanford economist Bob Hall is responsible for calling the meetings. During long periods of consistent economic growth, the board can go years without having anything to discuss, and therefore, it might hold no meetings. It wouldn’t even confirm when past meetings have happened.

Who knows? Maybe the NBER board will vote that America really is experiencing prosperity unmatched by the 1920s, 1960s, and 1980s combined. Such a proclamation by eight professors would really show the shrinking stock market, rising consumer prices, and declining productivity that happy days are here again.

Americans find their country in a recession. Americans find those who do not find their country in a recession in the Twilight Zone.

Click here to read the full article in the Spectator.org

Inflation Hits 9.1 Percent, Highest Level in 41 Years

Inflation picked up speed in June, rather than slowing.

Prices were 9.1 percent higher in June than a year before, exceeding expectations and surging to a 41-year high.

Department of Labor data released Wednesday morning showed that inflation picked up speed in June, rather than slowing. Prices rose by 1.3 percent during the month, up from a 1 percent increase in May. A sharp rise in energy prices, and gasoline prices particularly, helped power the annualized inflation rate to its highest levels in more than four decades. Food prices rose by 1 percent during June, and are up 10.4 percent over the past year.

Meanwhile, so-called “core inflation” which filters out the more volatile prices for energy and food, accelerated as well. That category saw a 0.7 percent increase in prices during June, up from 0.6 percent in May.

Wednesday’s topline inflation number came as a surprise—Dow Jones, which publishes expected inflation figures a few days before the official government data is released, expected 8.8 percent rather than 9.1—and might signal that the battle against rising prices will prove even more difficult.

The Federal Reserve raised interest rates by 0.75 percent at its meeting in June and is expected to do the same later this month. Economists polled by Reuters expect that further interest rate increases are on the horizon.

Higher interest rates should help slow inflation by signaling a marginal benefit to saving over spending. Inflation is the result of too many dollars chasing the same pile of goods and services, so higher interest rates make it less attractive to borrow and spend.

But how quickly that strategy will work remains an open question. Larry Summers, the former Obama administration treasury secretary who correctly warned about rising prices last year in the wake of the American Rescue Plan’s passage, believes it will be a persistent problem.

“There are no miracle cures or silver bullets,” Summers told a radio station in Boston last month. “Monetary policy, which what the Fed is doing, belatedly, does work with respect to inflation, but it takes quite a while.”

One potential glimmer of hope is in gasoline prices, which have been falling during July after rising sharply in June and being a major driver of overall inflation for much of the year. The national average today is $4.63 per gallon, according to AAA, down $0.14 from a week ago and $0.38 from this time last month. Falling gas prices might ease prices for other goods too, since they’ll make it less expensive to ship products across the country.

Another positive sign could be the glut of excess goods that retailers say they have to unload in the coming months. After months of pandemic-related supply chain snafus, department stores and other big retailers have piles of goods that they would have liked to sell long ago—which means consumers could be seeing big discounts for certain items, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Politically, however, gas prices well over $4 per gallon and persistently rising prices throughout the rest of the economy continue to be a yoke around President Joe Biden’s neck. Polls show that inflation and prices are Americans’ top concerns.

Click here to read the full article in Reason.org

Will California Suspend its Gas Tax? Debate over Fuel Costs Rages on as Biden Weighs In

California legislators have been at odds over suspending the state’s gas tax for months, but a presidential call to action and growing Democratic support is adding energy to the movement to cut fees at the pump. President Joe Biden on Wednesday proposed that Congress to suspend the federal gas tax for three months and for states to “take similar action to provide some direct relief, whether suspending their own gas taxes or helping consumers in other ways.” California’s gas excise tax — which funds road and infrastructure repairs — currently costs drivers 51 cents per gallon and will rise to 54 cents in July. The federal gas tax is 18 cents per gallon for regular gasoline.

The Golden State is home to the country’s highest gas prices. The statewide average on Thursday was about $6.36 per gallon, while the national average was at $4.94 per gallon, according to AAA. Although legislative leaders continue to push against suspension, some Democrats are joining Republican lawmakers in advocating for a break while fuel costs are hitting consumers the hardest. SOME DEMOCRATS SUPPORT GAS TAX RELIEF For some time, a handful of legislative Democrats have suggested they would support some form of gas tax break. That number grew on Wednesday. In late April, a handful of Democrats, including Assemblyman Tim Grayson, D-Concord, and Assemblyman Carlos Villapudua, D-Stockton, joined a group known as the “California Problem Solvers Caucus” to support a 12-month gas tax suspension that would require retailers to pass cost savings along to consumers. On June 17, some Democratic Assemblymembers also pushed to suspend the 3-cent gas tax increase that will take effect on July 1, even though legislative leaders already declined to do so in advance of the May 1 deadline.

On Wednesday, Assemblyman Rudy Salas Jr., D-Bakersfield, in the midst of a congressional campaign, announced he plans to hold a Friday press conference in his district to call for a gas tax suspension. Assemblyman Robert Rivas, D-Hollister, also praised Biden, although he stopped short of supporting a California version of the tax holiday. Rivas has made moves to take over the Assembly Speaker role from Assemblyman Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, and is still campaigning for the job.

Click here to read the full article in the Fresno Bee

White House Frustrated With HHS Chief Becerra Over Handling Of COVID: Report

The appointment of Xavier Becerra as secretary of health and human services has received a second opinion — and the diagnosis is not good.

Biden administration officials are increasingly frustrated with Becerra over his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, especially the Omicron variant, the Washington Post reported Monday.

The paper added that discontent has grown to the point that replacing the former California attorney general as head of HHS has been openly discussed within the White House.

As America enters the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, Becerra has rarely been seen or heard from — while chief White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, and White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeffrey Zients have been the faces of the administration’s response.

Some officials who talked to The Post accused Becerra of not pushing the administration’s strategy hard enough, claiming differences of opinion regarding booster shots and isolation guidelines have only caused more confusion.

The paper also reported, citing six people familiar with the matter, that Zients is among those dissatisfied with Becerra’s performance and has blamed the HHS head for not ensuring the White House is fully aware of new guidance coming from agencies like the CDC.

Becerra “is taking too passive a role in what may be the most defining challenge of the administration,” as one senior White House official put it.

Since being sworn into office in March 2021, Becerra has yet to appear on a Sunday morning television program. By contrast, his Trump-era predecessor, Alex Azar, appeared at least a dozen times on various networks during the first year of the pandemic. 

A spokesperson for Becerra denied that the secretary has kept a low profile, saying he has traveled to more than 20 states and has appeared on TV and radio.

Click here to read the full article at NY Post

Kamala Harris Struggles Through Question On Inflation During CBS Interview

Vice President Kamala Harris struggled to give a coherent answer when asked about the economy and inflation during a Sunday interview on CBS.

Harris appeared on “Face the Nation” when host Margaret Brennan asked her on the issues of inflation going into the “third year” of a pandemic.

The question referred to a previous statement pushed by White House press secretary Jen Psaki that insisted inflation was only “transitory” and should go down within the next year.

Since then economists have admitted inflation has only gotten worse as the year ends with many predicting the increased spending proposals from President Biden could make the problem worse. 

Harris did not provide a clear answer to the question of combating inflation. She appeared to stumble on describing the process before pivoting to support for Biden’s Build Back Better plan, which has been delayed because Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced his opposition to the legislation. 

“We have to address the fact that we have got to deal with the fact that folks are paying for gas, paying for groceries, and are — need solutions to it. So let’s talk about that,” Harris said. “Short-term solution includes what we need to do around the supply chain, right? So, we went to the ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Savannah, Georgia, and said, ‘hey, guys, no more five days a week, eight hours a day; 24/7, let’s move the products because people need their product – they need what they need.’ We’re dealing with it in terms of the long term. And that’s about what we need to do to pass Build Back Better. It strengthens our economy.”

Click here to read the full article at FoxNews

Manchin: WH Staff ‘Real Reason’ For Death of Biden’s Social Spending Bill

Sen. Joe Manchin said Monday he ended up killing President Biden’s massive social and environmental spending bill because White House staff drove him to his “wit’s end.”

“It is not the president. This is staff,” the West Virginia Democrat told home-state radio host Hoppy Kercheval.

“And they drove some things, and they put some things out, that were absolutely inexcusable. They know what it is.”

Manchin continued: “I’m always willing to work and listen to try. I just got to the wit’s end and they know the real reasons what happened.”

Although Biden negotiated with Manchin via phone and even hosted him at his Wilmington, Del., home on at least one occasion, there were protracted additional talks involving White House aides. 

Later in the interview, Manchin slammed fellow Democrats and activist groups who tried to “beat the living crap” out of him to win his support for the bill.

“They figured, ‘Surely to God we can move one person. Surely we can badger and beat one person up. Surely we can get enough protesters to make that person uncomfortable enough they will just say, “OK I’ll vote for anything, just quit.”‘ Well guess what?,” Manchin said. “I’m from West Virginia. I’m not from where they’re from and they can beat the living crap out of people and think they will be submissive.”

Click here to read the full article at the NYPost

Manchin Kills Build Back Better and Gives Nation – and Republicans – A Big Win

In chess, a gambit is when a player sacrifices a piece, usually a pawn, early in a game to obtain some larger competitive advantage. We can now say that the 13 Republicans who voted in early November to pass the infrastructure bill pulled off one of the most effective political gambits in recent memory. 

When Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., confirmed on Sunday that he is a no vote on the gargantuan Build Back Better spending bonanza, essentially killing it, it was vindication for the much-pilloried moderate GOP votes for infrastructure.

To be sure, there was much to object to in the infrastructure bill, from electric charging stations to tree equity, but for all its faults, there was also a lot of hard infrastructure in the legislation. Nineteen Republicans voted for it in the Senate, and it was widely popular with voters. Put another way, politically, sacrificing by conceding on the infrastructure bill was like giving up a pawn.

BIDEN, DEMOCRATS FACE A BLEAK FUTURE AFTER SQUANDERING THE LAST 11 MONTHS

Build Back Better, on the other hand, was the queen of Biden’s domestic agenda, a bill so far-reaching that it threatened to encroach upon every corner of the chess board of American life. And how did House Republicans topple that queen? Precisely by decoupling the infrastructure bill from Build Back Better. 

Let us not forget that throughout the summer and fall House progressive Democrats, most notably the Squad, held the passage of the infrastructure bill, Manchin, and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s baby, in the palm of their hands. They demanded that the bills be passed together. It looked as though we were surely headed to some compromise that would pass infrastructure and also pass wide swaths of the social spending package.

But when infrastructure passed with GOP votes the House progressives were left out in the cold to kick rocks. Their leverage evaporated in an instant. And yet still, at least to hear Speaker Nancy Pelosi. D-Calif., and President Joe Biden talk, it seemed likely some compromise would emerge on Build Back Better. That the president’s domestic agenda just crumbled into dust is the most total victory Republicans could have hoped for.

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Electorally, the baker’s dozen of supposed GOP “traitors,” who flanked the Squad and ate their lunch, are all in better positions to hold their mainly purple districts in 2022. One race that is typical is in Staten Island and Brooklyn where Republican Rep. Nicole Malliotakis will face a rematch against former Congressman Max Rose. A no vote on infrastructure would have been hammered by Rose, as the bill brings a lot of money and jobs to the district. That line of attack is gone now.

Click here to read the full article at FoxNews

President Biden’s Job Approval Sinking On Inflation, Crime and COVID: POLL

President Joe Biden is facing significant skepticism from the American public, with his job approval rating lagging across a range of major issues, including new lows for his handling of crime, gun violence and the economic recovery, a new ABC/Ipsos poll finds.

As the White House confronts rising and widespread concern about inflation, Americans are especially negative on how the Biden administration is managing this issue.

More than two-thirds of Americans (69%) disapprove of how Biden is handling inflation (only 28% approve) while more than half (57%) disapprove of his handling of the economic recovery. Partisan splits for inflation show expected negativity in Republican views (94% disapproving), but the survey also reveals weaknesses from Biden’s own party with only a slim majority of Democrats (54%) approving. Biden’s orbit is also hemorrhaging independent voters, with 71% disapproving of his handling of inflation.

MORE: Social spending plan will help ease pain from record-breaking inflation: White House

he ABC/Ipsos poll, which was conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News using Ipsos’ KnowledgePanel, reveals these rocky ratings for Biden at a time when the bulk of Americans name inflation and paying everyday bills as a top concern. Concern about inflation has eclipsed worry about the coronavirus pandemic, according to recent polls from Monmouth and AP-NORC, as Republicans continuously spotlight rising prices at the gas pump and the grocery store as a key issue for the upcoming midterm elections — likely to be a referendum on Biden’s performance.

These low job assessments in areas of high public concern have led to a new low in Biden’s overall approval rating, measured by FiveThirtyEight at 43%.

Click here to read the full article at Yahoo! News