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Opinion The Inflation Reduction Act? Try the IRS Enforcement Act instead.

The Internal Revenue Service building in D.C. on March 22, 2013. (Susan Walsh/AP)

Give him points for honesty. In a Senate floor speech, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called President Biden’s massive climate tax and spending bill what it is: “the so-called Inflation Reduction Act.” “I say ‘so-called,’ by the way,” Sanders added, “because according to the [Congressional Budget Office], and other economic organizations that have studied this bill, it will, in fact, have a minimal impact on inflation.”

A more accurate name for the bill might be the “IRS Enforcement Act.” The bill increases the budget of the Internal Revenue Service by $80 billion over 10 years. What might the IRS do with all that money? The Biden administration has told us. In May 2021, Biden’s Treasury Department produced a 22-page analysis of his American Families Plan agenda, which said that adding nearly $80 billion in new resources over 10 years to the IRS budget would allow it to hire 86,852 full-time employees over the next decade — to audit more returns and pry more money out of taxpayers to fund the administration’s radical climate agenda.

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According to Sen. Mike Crapo (Idaho), the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, 57 percent of the $80 million in the final bill is for enforcement. So, let’s be conservative and estimate that it could add at least 49,600 IRS agents and auditors. That could increase the size of the IRS workforce (which currently has 78,661 full-time staffers) to more than 128,000. To put that in perspective, the largest NFL stadium — MetLife Stadium in New Jersey — has a maximum capacity of 82,500. This new army of tax collectors would be larger than the actual armed forces of 24 of our 29 NATO allies. It would also be 6½ times the size of our Border Patrol, which has just 19,536 agents trying to handle the worst border crisis in American history.

If you told Americans that their government was going to spend $80 billion to hire tens of thousands of people, and asked what the new federal workers should focus on, carrying out IRS audits probably would not rank high on most people’s lists. Indeed, improving tax collection does not even make the list of the American public’s top priorities.

While Biden is growing the IRS budget by $80 billion, he did not even request enough funds for the Defense Department to keep up with inflation. In the midst of the first unprovoked land invasion in Europe in decades, and with China menacing Taiwan, Biden is starving our military while lavishing cash on the IRS. If he gave $80 billion to the Pentagon instead, it would be enough to buy six new Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carriers, 22 Virginia-class attack submarines, 18 Zumwalt-class destroyers or more than 800 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. As for hiring tens of thousands of new IRS employees, the U.S. Army is facing the worst recruiting crisis since the creation of the all-volunteer force in 1973 and could find itself short 25,000 troops at the end of this year. Perhaps the commander in chief should focus on recruiting and retaining soldiers instead of hiring more tax collectors.

That’s if he can hire them. Good luck finding tens of thousands of new workers in this economy. One of the main reasons we are experiencing the worst inflation in four decades is because we have a historic labor shortage. There are 10.7 million unfilled jobs in the United States today, and 59 percent of small businesses report they cannot find workers, including 80 percent of restaurants, 76 percent of manufacturers, and 71 percent of travel and lodging businesses. The demand side of the economy is overheating because of all the free government money Biden has provided, while the supply side can’t keep up because of a lack of workers — which means shortages and higher prices.

If Biden really cared about reducing inflation, he would be focused on helping private businesses find workers — not competing with them for workers by dipping into the labor pool to hire people away from the productive sector of the economy.

This bill is not about reducing inflation; it is about increasing tax collection. That’s why Democrats are giving their bill a fake name. Because they know that they can’t tell Americans the truth — that they are hiring an army of tax collectors so they can spend hundreds of billions more of your tax dollars on climate change.

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