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Monday, August 15, 2022

OPINION:

Like all chief executives, President Biden made a lot of promises on the campaign trail — many he’s since conveniently forgotten and many he’s regrettably kept.

Chief among the latter has been his vow to be the “most pro-union president you’ve ever seen,” and the almost endless list of goodies funneled to his benefactors in organized labor since assuming office bears witness to his sincerity, at least where that obligation is concerned.


One promise Mr. Biden made to absolutely no one, however, was that he’d double the size and scope of the Internal Revenue Service — perhaps because he knew the idea would have had roughly the same appeal with voters as pledging to double the number of dog catchers.

And yet earlier this month, as part of his disingenuously titled “Inflation Reduction Act,” the president proposed increasing the agency’s budget by $80 billion while adding 87,000 new IRS agents — essentially doubling its current staffing level.

One explanation for the move could be the natural liberal affinity for taxes, and the corresponding animus toward anyone who slips through the net.

Citing a report from the Treasury Department, Mr. Biden asserts that uncollected taxes in 2019 amounted to about $554 billion, while IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig estimates the figure could be as high as $1 trillion per year.

And rather than simply concluding government is already too large and intrusive without it, Mr. Biden and his bean counters are determined to make up the “shortfall.”

A far more sinister motivation, though, could be the left’s penchant for deputizing the federal bureaucracy to harass its political opponents. The recent actions of the FBI and the Biden Justice Department have gotten most of the attention, but the IRS has been in the same dirty business since at least 2013, when 

Former IRS unit director Lois Lerner admitted the agency had a policy of auditing conservative nonprofits for purely political reasons.

Imagine the havoc Mr. Biden could wreak with twice the number of operatives — including many armed and empowered to use deadly force — doing his bidding.

But best of all, to an administration that views every transaction as a potential quid pro quo, the plan will undoubtedly yield more union members and, in turn, more dues for his allies in organized labor.

With NTEU dues averaging about $300 annually, adding another 87,000 members means $26.1 million in revenue for the union — and the party in power.

All at public expense, of course.

As is true of all public-sector unions, the National Treasury Employees Union — which represents (or at least collects dues from) IRS staffers — is a major funder of the political left. Thus, doubling the size and scope of the agency — notwithstanding all the misery it promises for taxpayers — would represent a significant windfall for the president and his allies.

According to OpenSecrets.org, NTEU has funneled $601,759 in PAC funding to Democrat party committees over the past decade.

Unsurprisingly, the union has donated 100% of its PAC funding to the president’s party during the 2022 cycle, including:

• $30,000 to his party’s Congressional Campaign Committee
• $30,000 to his party’s Senatorial Campaign Committee
• $30,000 to an entity tasked with “coordinating party organizational activities”

More specifically, the IRS employee union prioritized political donations to Dems who happen to be in 2022 battleground races.

By itself, another $26.1 million seized from taxpayers and laundered through NTEU isn’t a huge amount. But do we really need even one more drop in the already-overflowing bucket of Mr. Biden’s paybacks to Big Labor?

As hardworking Americans grapple every day with inflation, sky-high fuel prices, crime, shortages of basic necessities and all the other hardships for which we can thank the current administration, it’s hard to say which they need less — a larger, more nakedly partisan bureaucracy or more giveaways to the president’s benefactors.

Mr. Biden’s scheme to weaponize the IRS threatens to give us both.

• Aaron Withe is the CEO of the Freedom Foundation.


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