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“Late Term Abortion”

The Washington Post points out there is no precise medical or legal definition of “late-term,” and “many doctors and scientists avoid that language, calling it imprecise and misleading.”

The Daily Beast also notes that only 1.3 percent of abortions are performed after 21 weeks of gestation, and the idea that a woman can get an abortion moments before giving birth is “not how medical care works.”

The use of “dog whistles” aka “coded” labels has been common for many years but until recently has been out of the mainstream of conversation. The current administration aided by a neer do well Congress has brought these “coded” statements and words to common use. Along with this common usage the administration has trashed agreements put in place to prevent war and improve trade. Tariffs (taxes) put in place to offset the “tax” policy that was supposed to benefit everyday Americans and threats to bad actors who were in a state of containment with the approval of our now alienated allies. The administration has in a few years undermined our economy, foreign affairs and put us on an isolation footing all because of “dog whistles”.

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December 5, 2021Heather Cox Richardson
Dec 6
Speaking in Athens, Greece, yesterday, Pope Francis warned Americans, “We cannot avoid noting with concern how today, and not only in Europe, we are witnessing a retreat from democracy.” He warned against politicians with “an obsessive quest for popularity, in a thirst for visibility, in a flurry of unrealistic promises,” and called for people around the world to turn away from authoritarianism, individualism, and indifference. Instead, they must rededicate themselves to the common good and strengthen democracy. The pope’s public recognition of the rise of authoritarianism mirrored the increasing awareness here in the U.S. that our democracy is in crisis. That dawning awareness seems to have been sparked by the December 1 oral arguments about abortion rights before the Supreme Court, when a majority of the current justices made it clear that the constitutional right to abortion many people believed was sacrosanct is likely to be taken away. “They lied,” the Washington Post’s Paul Waldman wrote about the testimony of the Republican-appointed justices in their confirmation hearings. In those hearings, they indicated that they saw the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision protecting the right to abortion as settled law, no matter what their own personal preferences might be. “They lied to Congress and to the country…. It was all a lie, a scam, a con,” Waldman wrote, “the assurances that they were blank slates committed to ‘originalism’ and ‘textualism,’ that they wouldn’t ‘legislate from the bench,’ that they have no agenda but merely a ‘judicial philosophy.’”Also in the Washington Post, Dr. Melissa Murray, a New York University law professor who clerked for Justice Sonia Sotomayor, noted that Sotomayor recognized that her colleagues were “embracing a cataclysmic reordering of the reproductive rights landscape.” Seeing what her colleagues were going to do, Sotomayor turned to “the American people themselves…suggesting that the court need not have the last word on abortion.” She was, Murray said, “alerting the people to the imminent threat to abortion rights in the hopes that, hearing her alarm, we might mobilize. Not with a Jan. 6–style insurrection but with the sort of grass-roots energy that once fueled the civil rights movement and other progressive social causes.” “The court will not save our rights,” Murray wrote, “But maybe we can save them ourselves.” In fact, the reactionaries in the current-day Republican Party are a minority of the country. As David Atkins points out in the Washington Monthly, Republicans are operating from a position of weakness. In the United States, Democratic counties produce more than 70% of the nation’s gross domestic product (the total market value of goods and services produced). Democratic states fund the Republican-dominated states that complain about “socialism.” Eighty-three percent of Americans now live in cities, which tend to vote Democratic, and young people are overwhelmingly progressive. The problem is this: “Democrats…need to win every single election from here to prevent the destruction of democracy, while Republicans only need to win one. And the American system is set up so that Republicans will win sooner or later, whether fairly or by cheating.” Atkins urges the American people to “start thinking about and planning for what ‘Break glass in case of emergency’ measures look like—because it’s more likely a matter of when, not if. It not only can happen here; it probably will happen here. Conservatives are guaranteed to make every attempt to turn America into the next Russia or Hungary. It will take coordinated, overlapping solidarity among both regular people and elites across various institutions to stop it.”Laura Thornton, the director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, lays out what American authoritarianism looks like and shows that it is already here. Focusing on Wisconsin, she deplores the statements of Senator Ron Johnson and Republican lawmakers who are openly demanding control over election management in the state. “I spent more than two decades living and working overseas to advance democracy and credible elections—giving me plenty of opportunity to see the lengths to which autocrats will go to gain power,” Thornton writes. “Even so, the proposed Wisconsin power grab is shocking in its brazenness. If this occurred in any of the countries where the United States provides aid, it would immediately be called out as a threat to democracy. U.S. diplomats would be writing furious cables, and decision makers would be threatening to cut off the flow of assistance.” How can we stop the march of authoritarianism? Thornton says that “it is up to us, the people. No party or leader will save us here. No foreign savior will shake us out of our stupor. Americans need to start caring about democracy enough to act on it…. Apathy is how democracies die. I’ve seen it.”What does minority rule look like? It looks like individual liberty and violence to make others do what those in power want. Representative Thomas Massie (R-KY) grabbed attention today with a family Christmas picture in which seven people are brandishing guns, ostensibly to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. His tweeted caption read: “Merry Christmas! Ps. Santa, please bring ammo.” This can only be taken as a message: on Tuesday, a 15-year-old killed four classmates and wounded several others with a gun he received as a Christmas gift. Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked a move to proceed on a law expanding background checks for gun purchases, a bill the House passed in March. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said the measure was “hostile toward lawful gun owners and lawful firearms transactions,” and he blocked it. Last night, in Washington, D.C., about 100 members of the white supremacist group Patriot Front marched to “reclaim America.” Patriot Front was known as Vanguard America until a man affiliated with it killed Heather Heyer at the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. Such people want to remake our nation as a white supremacist haven and know that this is their last chance. But while the white supremacists who joined together in Charlottesville marched openly, with their faces uncovered, those people joining the Patriot Front last night wore masks. This is important. When the Ku Klux Klan terrorized people after the Civil War, they hid their faces with white hoods designed to look like the ghosts of dead Confederate soldiers, knowing that if the federal government knew who they were, it would prosecute them. By the end of the nineteenth century, Euro-Americans did not hide their faces at public lynchings, knowing they represented the will of the moment. That the rioters from Charlottesville now cover their faces suggests that the white supremacy welcome among some circles in 2017 now needs to hide.With the call of so many observers to defend American democracy from those who would replace it with authoritarianism, many are reaching backward to remember what things were like in the past, when politicians of different parties worked together for the nation. In the Philadelphia Inquirer today, Will Bunch reminded readers that before politicians fetishized guns and individualism, we used to rally around something called “the public good.”

—Notes:Mark Jacob @MarkJacob16This is Thomas Massie, a U.S. congressman from Kentucky, reminding us that violent rhetoric is the sound track of the Republican Party. December 4th 20211,086 Retweets3,142 Likeshttps://www.reuters.com/world/europe/pope-francis-arrives-greece-highlight-migrants-plight-2021-12-04/https://apnews.com/article/pope-francis-lifestyle-greece-migration-athens-de0968a59fb782eafc412712c5b9ff43https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/12/03/supreme-court-conservatives-lied/https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/abortion-sotomayor-dobbs-oral-arguments/2021/12/03/ba6fc4b8-53d5-11ec-8927-c396fa861a71_story.htmlhttps://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2020/11/09/biden-voting-counties-equal-70-of-americas-economy-what-does-this-mean-for-the-nations-political-economic-divide/https://washingtonmonthly.com/2021/12/04/saving-democracy-will-require-institutional-and-civil-resistance-at-all-levels/https://www.cnn.com/2021/12/05/us/michigan-oxford-high-school-shooting-sunday/index.htmlhttps://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/12/04/why-international-election-observers-would-give-wisconsin-failing-grade/https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/584065-gop-blocks-bill-to-expand-gun-background-checks-after-michigan-schoolhttps://www.cnn.com/2021/12/05/us/michigan-oxford-high-school-shooting-sunday/index.htmlhttps://www.thedailybeast.com/patriot-front-white-nationalists-stage-bizarro-rally-in-downtown-dc-find-themselves-strandedhttps://www.businessinsider.com/far-right-patriot-front-rally-in-washington-dc-to-reclaim-america-2021-12https://www.inquirer.com/opinion/america-public-good-student-debt-vaccine-refusal-20211205.html
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Dear friends, 

Throughout my twenties I was in fairly poor health. Like half of Dublin, I’d succumbed to a bad flu virus one winter, but unlike most, I didn’t recover. For nine years I was in a constant state of post-viral fatigue. Some doctors believed me, others didn’t. Even the ones who did were unsure of how to help. Eventually, a doctor discovered that my immune system was 10 times too active. Then they had to figure out a way to help.

This is all a long time ago now. When I hear of people living with long COVID, I remember all that exhaustion. I wear masks and try to avoid infection. The pathway into health was a slow one for me. I was frustrated when I was told that a year or two of yoga would help. I wanted a pill. But it helped. 

On this week’s On Being, Krista speaks with a beloved former guestRichard Davidson, together with Vivek Murthy. Richard, who goes by Richie, is a neuroscientist, and Vivek is currently serving his second term as U.S. Surgeon General. 

Right off the bat, the conversation takes questions of health to a question of well-being; Richie remembers how his father, a businessman, would use a barter system for people who were short on cash. “A transmission of kindness,” he calls it; something that helps a sense of dignity is going to help a sense of well-being too. He’s interested in how medicine can be about more than diagnosing failures, something Vivek picks up when he notes how he’d want medicine to also “explore the sources of strength.” 

Both guests this hour have a strong commitment to public health, research, data, and empirical testing. Especially in a time of pandemic, they know the measures that are often first at hand: hospitalizations, cases, deaths, school closures, unemployment figures, and so on. But they also want to bring other measurements into their question of healthiness in society: How is mental health among people who are isolating? What is their sense of connection to other people? Speaking about what a post-COVID world might look like, Vivek shares: “one of the things I really want to do in this job is not only help us to get through this pandemic, but to really think more deeply about how we do better when it comes to mental health, about how we have a broader conversation as a country about well-being and how we reflect that, not only in the decisions we make in our lives, but in how we design our schools, how we design our workplaces, and what we think of as success when it comes to public policy — not just the dollars and cents of it, but whether or not policy contributes to a sense of well-being.”

What both Vivek and Richie are addressing is the possibility of change: for an individual and for a society. Richie has been at the forefront of the field of neuroplasticity, a scientific term recognizing how the brain continues to change and develop — whether toward flourishing or not — as our life continues. Aware of the commodification of fear and division rife in our world, he speaks of how important it is to pay attention to the messages we’re internalizing. And he brings hope, noting that all studies that explore the changing brains of adults witness that change is possible, with small steps. Speaking about health, he mentions attention, connection, appreciation, purpose, and love. 

“How can we tilt the world toward love and away from fear?” is one of the questions  Vivek asks himself in his public role as Surgeon General. To know that this is the goal of public health, not just diagnosis and medication, expands the field of health into all aspects of our public life together. 

Beir bua, 

Pádraig Ó Tuama
host of Poetry Unbound

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Along with the Machiavellian Congress and Covid variants as a country we have some mountains to climb. As odd as it may seem, the voters have the ability to affect change by informed voting. Do NOT Be Distracted BY Shiny Objects!

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The influence of TOTUS is still live in Congress, the people elected are there to do work, not name call and hold back progress on needed infrastructure which means JOBS, which brings better health, increased spending (economic boost). History has shown the GOP has consistently misrepresented spending yet under the cover of darkness aided and abetted the worldwide rich to continue making billions on our misfortunes- this does not rule out the DEM’s in all of this but if we (the voters) look at history we will see that we have been “hosed ” regularly by both sides. Our recourse is being informed first by looking back at what was done or not done in our names. WE the people are the only solution to poor government. The political class” primary weapon is division among the people which allows them to continue to spread misinformation for their benefit. We are a multilingual, multi ethnic and multicolor nation but as one and being well informed we can stop the “business as usual” governance which does not benefit us as a Country.

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The former President is still inserting himself into the everyday politics of the country in the same negative way that he did for 4 years. Since this is America, he is not restricted except for the messaging sites that have banned him due to inaccurate and false information. His ability to reach masses is greatly diminished yet he still manages to be seen and heard. His messaging has not changed and it is still about him and not about the country as it should be now and should have been during his tenure. TOTUS had many opportunities to be “mediocre” and he squandered those by self-aggrandizing executive orders and ongoing “campaign” speeches. Being President is exceedingly hard job along with being on duty 24/7 but TOTUS chose to delegate his duties to underlings who spoon fed him ideas and topics that he deemed prudent but were uninformed in relation to the needs of the country (that means ALL American voters). The Presidency is not a person but an institution that is guided by a person (hopefully someone with the “right stuff”). Essentially, we had 4 years of mediocracy instead of potential greatness and a show of American ability. The Presidency is about leading a country forward and being aware of the flaws and making some attempts to improve. Totus’s failures created a year of deaths due to poor reaction to a national health crisis which resulted in an initial loss of hundreds of thousand lives until someone gave him a buzzword that excited him (operation “warp speed”) which resulted in an acceleration of vaccine invention and production (a bit late but needed none the less). For 4 years the worst elements of government held sway behind the “curtain of TOTUS’ rhetoric and feckless leadership.

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November 25, 2021Heather Cox Richardson
Nov 26
I started these letters completely inadvertently on September 15, 2019, after I happened to see House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff’s (D-CA) angry letter to then–acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire on September 13, noting that the committee knew a whistleblower had made a complaint and demanding that Maguire produce that complaint as required by law. As a political historian, I saw that for what it was: an accusation from a member of the legislative branch that someone in the executive branch had very clearly broken a specific law. That was huge, way different than the general complaints around at the time that, for example, then-president Trump must be violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution, an accusation that was vague enough that it was terribly hard to address.Two days later, on September 15, a yellow jacket sting made me cancel my afternoon plans, and as I sat waiting to make sure I didn’t react badly to the sting, I used the time to write on my Facebook page where I had been posting once a week or so for years. I wrote about the history of the previous month and mentioned the issue of the missing whistleblower’s complaint. That post got swamped with people asking so many questions that I wrote another, and then another.And so the Letters from an American were born.Over the past two years, this has become a team project. While I do the legwork of explaining the politics of these crisis times, my heroic editors keep my writing clean and factual.But this project really belongs to you who read it. It was your voice that created the project, you who inspire me when I am so dead tired I fall asleep sitting up, and you who bring in related material and ask questions and correct my stupid errors. Above all, it is you who are helping to model what we so desperately need in America: a respectful community based in facts, rather than in anger and partisanship, a community that can defend our democracy and carry it into a new era.I am honored to be walking this road alongside all of you. You are smart, funny, kind, talented, insightful, creative, and principled.And I am so very proud of what we are building together.Thank you, for all of it.Happy Thanksgiving.
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7 scathingly funny cartoons about Thanksgiving inflation

Artists take on rising meat prices, government reassurances, and more

THE WEEK STAFFNOVEMBER 21, 2021Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare via Email

Editorial Cartoon.

Marshall Ramsey | Copyright 2021 Creators Syndicate

Editorial Cartoon.

Steve Breen | Copyright 2021 Creators Syndicate

Editorial Cartoon.

Dick Wright | Copyright 2021 Cagle Cartoons

Editorial Cartoon.

Joe Heller | Copyright 2021 Hellertoon.com

Editorial Cartoon.

Ed Wexler | Copyright 2021 Cagle Cartoons

Political Cartoon.

Gary Varvel | Copyright 2021 Creators Syndicate

Editorial Cartoon.

John Darkow | Copyright 2021 Cagle Cartoons

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No matter the party or group, the uninformed will get stirred up about almost anything.

Another illustration to go with reader’s online comments for The Memphis Flyer

Cravens

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November 22, 2021Heather Cox Richardson

Nov 23Today, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, based in Stockholm, Sweden, released its 2021 report on “The Global State of Democracy.” “Democracy is at risk,” the report’s introduction begins. “Its survival is endangered by a perfect storm of threats, both from within and from a rising tide of authoritarianism.” “The world is becoming more authoritarian as nondemocratic regimes become even more brazen in their repression and many democratic governments suffer from backsliding by adopting their tactics of restricting free speech and weakening the rule of law. ”The report identifies the United States as one of the democracies that is “backsliding,” meaning that it has “experienced gradual but significant weakening of Checks on Government and Civil Liberties, such as Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Association and Assembly, over time.”​​“The United States, the bastion of global democracy, fell victim to authoritarian tendencies itself, and was knocked down a significant number of steps on the democratic scale,” the report says. That fall continues to be pushed by malign foreign actors. An investigation by Jordan Liles of Snopes.com shows that foreign social media accounts are magnifying right-wing voices. In the wake of the Rittenhouse acquittal, for example, foreign accounts posing as Americans appeared to celebrate the jury’s decision. Frank Figliuzzi, the former assistant director for counterintelligence at the FBI, tweeted that of 32,315 pro-Rittenhouse hashtag tweets from November 19–20, 29,609 had disabled geolocation. Of them, 17,701 were listed as “foreign,” and most of those were in Russia, China, and the EU. Plenty of Americans are along for the authoritarian ride, too. A story by David A. Fahrenthold, Josh Dawsey, Isaac Stanley-Becker, and Shayna Jacobs in the Washington Post today reveals that the Republican National Committee (RNC) is using party funds to pay some of former president Donald Trump’s legal bills. Allies of RNC chair Ronna McDaniel note that since Trump is the biggest draw the party has for fundraising, it is important to cultivate his goodwill. This dumps the RNC into the January 6 insurrection mess by aligning the party’s central organization with Trump.That mess is deepening. Today the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol issued five new subpoenas to people involved in planning the rallies in Washington, D.C., on January 6 and the subsequent march to the Capitol. The subpoenas went to Dustin Stockton and Jennifer Lawrence, who organized the “Women for America First” rally, and Trump spokesperson Taylor Budowich, who called for a social media blitz. Another subpoena went to Roger Stone, who pushed the rally and raised money for it, and who hired members of the right-wing Oath Keepers, several of whom were at the riot, as personal bodyguards. Right-wing newscaster Alex Jones got one, too; he helped to organize the rallies, spoke at the one held January 5, and claimed to have provided 80% of the funding for the January 6 rally. Committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) said: “We need to know who organized, planned, paid for, and received funds related to those events, as well as what communications organizers had with officials in the White House and Congress. ”Two days ago, Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), who sits on the committee, told CNN that many of the people they’ve interviewed so far—more than 200—have been Trump officials who testified voluntarily and wanted to be subpoenaed for “cover. ”In Washington, D.C., today, at a hearing for one of those charged in the riot at the Capitol that day, U.S. District Court Judge Carl Nichols, a Trump appointee, sought to define what it means to interfere with an official federal government proceeding. About a third of those charged in the attack on the Capitol have been charged with this crime, which carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison. Nichols asked a prosecutor today whether calling “Vice President Pence to seek to have him adjudge the certification in a particular way” would be obstruction. That’s a key question. Trump’s influence took some hits today. Sean Parnell, the Trump-backed candidate for Pennsylvania senator, suspended his campaign after losing a custody battle with his ex-wife. She accused him of physical and emotional abuse of her and their children. Today, conservative columnist Max Boot called out Republican lawmakers for “fomenting violent extremism” and noted that “they have also become hostage to the extremists in their ranks” because they fear for their safety should they stand up to the Trump loyalists. Right-wing extremists have threatened the lives of the 13 Republicans who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Two long-standing Fox News Channel contributors, Steve Hayes and Jonah Goldberg, quit the enterprise today over Tucker Carlson’s three-part series Patriot Purge. That series, they wrote, “is presented in the style of an exposé, a hard-hitting piece of investigative journalism. In reality, it is a collection of incoherent conspiracy-mongering, riddled with factual inaccuracies, half-truths, deceptive imagery, and damning omissions. ” They say they could no longer work at the Fox News Channel because “we sincerely believe that all people of good will and good judgment—regardless of their ideological or partisan commitments—can agree that a cavalier and even contemptuous attitude toward facts, truth-seeking, and truth-telling, lies at the heart of so much that plagues our country. ” And Kyle Rittenhouse, whom a jury acquitted Friday of all charges connected with the shooting deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and the wounding of Gaige Grosskreutz, is fighting with the “Fightback Foundation” organized by “Stop the Steal” lawyer Lin Wood over the $2 million bail posted for Rittenhouse. Rittenhouse’s lawyers say the money was raised for their client and thus should be his; Wood contends that he raised the money (although apparently not all of it) and thus it should go to his organization.A number of Republican governors are facing primary challengers backed by Trump, and according to the Wall Street Journal, former vice president Mike Pence told the Republican Governors’ Association this week that he would be supporting incumbent Republican governors rather than Trump-backed challengers. Trump spokesperson Budowich—now under subpoena—responded, “Just like in cycles previous, successful Republican candidates must earn the support of President Donald J. Trump.”As the Republican Party falls to autocracy, President Joe Biden is focused on making Americans believe in democracy again by making the economy work for regular people. His policies are working.Today the CEO of Walmart, Doug McMillon, explicitly praised the Biden administration for its actions to reduce pandemic-related supply chain shortages, which are easing. “I would like to give the administration credit for helping do things like help get the ports open 24 hours a day, to open up some of the trucking lines…—there’s been a lot of work to do that—and then all the way through the supply chain there’s been a lot of innovation, and…week after week, in the third quarter in particular, sequentially, each month of the quarter got stronger, the number of containers that we were moving through the ports has grown significantly….”—Notes:https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-kyle-rittenhouse-trial-bail-money-20211122-icplcpeygzdahhwqmwzs43paju-story.htmlhttps://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-rnc-legal-bills-ny-investigation-vance-james/2021/11/22/ef447f38-4bda-11ec-b73b-a00d6e559a6e_story.htmlhttps://www.politico.com/news/2021/11/22/capitol-riot-trump-523211https://www.idea.int/gsod/sites/default/files/2021-11/the-global-state-of-democracy-2021_0.pdfhttps://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/11/22/republicans-are-fomenting-violent-extremism-are-also-hostage-extremists/https://www.snopes.com/news/2021/11/19/foreign-facebook-rittenhouse/https://january6th.house.gov/news/press-releases/select-committee-subpoenas-individuals-involved-planning-and-organizing-rallies​​https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/20/politics/zoe-lofgren-jan-6-committee-interviews/index.htmlhttps://www.npr.org/2021/11/22/1058140148/trump-backed-pa-senate-candidate-suspends-his-campaign-after-losing-custody-battFrank Figliuzzi @FrankFigliuzzi1Divide & conquer: A sample of 32,315 pro-Rittenhouse hashtag tweets, Nov 19-20, showed 29,609 with disabled geolocation. Of those, 17,701 were listed as “foreign”, but a deep scrub revealed most of those were in Russia, China, and the EU. @Tara_Writer @TAPSTRIMEDIA #RittenhouseNovember 21st 2021

Alexander Hendrie  6/24/2021LikeComments|4

The IRS has a history of corruption and incompetence


President Joe Biden has proposed drastically expanding the IRS.a man standing in front of a brick building© Provided by Washington Examiner

Biden’s plan calls for hiring over 87,000 agents, more than doubling the agency’s workforce. It also allocates $80 billion in new funding over the next decade, a 67% annual increase compared to 2021 funding levels. This plan will give the IRS new “specialized enforcement staff” and force banks and payment apps like Venmo to report the inflows and outflows of businesses and people.https://products.gobankingrates.com/pub/84d1cf40-924a-11eb-a8c2-0e0b1012e14d

This proposal is a terrible idea, given that the IRS has repeatedly proven that it cannot do its job.

Last week, ProPublica disclosed that it had received the tax returns of thousands of taxpayers covering 15 years, including those belonging to Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, and Michael Bloomberg. If this information is true, it was either obtained through someone hacking the IRS database or through an IRS employee illegally disclosing the information, a felony punishable by up to five years in jail time.

While this leak is concerning, it should not be surprising. The IRS has a long history of ineptitude, incompetence, and corruption. In 1997 and 1998, congressional hearings documented numerous examples of an out-of-control IRS.

A 1998 article by the New York Times described “military style raids” by IRS agents against taxpayers who were accused of nonviolent behavior. Another 1998 article, this time from the Washington Post, noted testimony from several small-business owners across the country. They described dozens of armed IRS officials raiding their offices, seizing business documents, and harassing clients and employees. In each case, the agency found no evidence of wrongdoing.

After these revelations, important reforms were passed by Congress to protect taxpayers. However, IRS malfeasance has continued in the years since.

During the Obama administration, the IRS targeted conservative groups applying for nonprofit status ahead of the 2012 election. Under the lead of IRS Exempt Organizations Director Lois Lerner, the agency ensured just one conservative nonprofit organization received tax-exempt status over a three-year period. No IRS employee was disciplined for this scandal. The Obama Department of Justice closed its investigation with no charges, and Lerner was permitted to retire with a pension and a bonus.

Around this time, an IRS employee illegally leaked the sensitive donor information of a conservative group, the National Organization for Marriage. The IRS claimed the information was released “inadvertently” and paid a modest $50,000 settlement.

In addition to a record of targeting taxpayers, the IRS also routinely fails to perform basic tasks.

The IRS has failed to complete legally mandated annual tax complexity reports since 2002. When asked in 2015 why it wasn’t doing the report, the IRS noted that it would take two full-time employees to do so. A 2021 Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration report found that 40% of printers in tax processing centers were not working, but the only problem with many of the printers was that no employee had replaced the ink or emptied the waste cartridge container.

A 2016 report found that the IRS failed to document the return of laptops containing sensitive taxpayer data. The report estimated that the IRS did not properly document over 1,000 computers used by contract employees. A 2017 report found that the agency rehired more than 200 employees who were previously employed by the agency but fired for previous conduct or performance issues.

The IRS failed to hire 5,000 new employees between 2017 and 2019. The agency had been allocated funding for this staff, so these hiring woes are due to bureaucratic problems, including the fact that the IRS has not updated its workforce plan in 15 years. Further, the IRS has a union contract that requires it to consider internal applicants before hiring externally, a process that TIGTA says leads to a “waste of time and resources” and often results in the agency “shuffling existing employees around.”

In 2013, IRS employees spent over 520,000 hours on union activities, costing taxpayers $23.5 million in salary and benefits.

Biden’s plan to give the IRS $80 billion is reckless at best. Even Obama-era IRS Chief John Koskinen, a longtime advocate of increasing IRS funding, believes Biden’s IRS expansion is excessive. In an interview with the New York Times, Koskinen said the IRS could not properly use the $80 billion, saying, “I’m not sure you’d be able to efficiently use that much money.”

The IRS needs reform to ensure that it properly does its job and does not unfairly target particular taxpayers. In contrast, Biden’s plan would only throw more money at a broken agency.

Alexander Hendrie is the director of tax policy at Americans for Tax Reform.

Tags: OpinionBeltway ConfidentialBlog ContributorsTax

Original Author: Alexander Hendrie

Original Location: The IRS has a history of corruption and incompetence

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