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Molly Butler / Media Matters

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Right-wing media support IRS cuts even though experts say it would add to the deficit

Despite budget experts’ concerns of IRS funding cuts raising the national deficit by at least $30 billion, numerous right-wing media figures are praising the House GOP’s proposal of cutting funding from the IRS

In his first week as speaker of the House, Mike Johnson and the House GOP proposed a contentious funding bill that would finance aid to Israel by diverting tax dollars allocated to the Internal Revenue Service in last year’s Inflation Reduction Act. Budget experts have warned that the proposed funding cuts to the IRS will raise the deficit and decrease revenue. Yet numerous right-wing media figures have praised Johnson’s first act as speaker, expressing their support for the proposed bill, with former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich calling it a “brilliant move” that might establish Johnson as a “historical figure.” Right-wing figures have also used the bill as an opportunity to bash the IRS, fearmongering that a well-resourced tax collecting agency would use its budget to bully middle-class Americans.

  • House GOP proposes cutting IRS funding to provide aid to Israel, which experts say would increase the national deficit

    • Mike Johnson and the House GOP proposed a bill that would include $14.3 billion in emergency aid for Israel. The GOP proposal that passed the House would divert funds that were earmarked for the IRS in the Inflation Reduction Act, which President Joe Biden signed into law last year. [NBC News, 10/30/23; CNN, 11/2/23
    • According to tax expert Howard Gleckman, IRS funding cuts “would actually increase the deficit.” Gleckman, who is a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center at the Urban Institute, warned, “If you cut IRS funding [by $14 billion to $15 billion], you’re actually going to increase the deficit by about $30 billion.” [The Hill, 11/1/23]
    • The Congressional Budget Office also estimates that the GOP bill will add $26.8 billion to the budget deficit. According to NBC News, “The CBO found that the IRS cuts coupled with the Israel aid would lead to a $26.8 billion decline in revenue, contradicting the stated goal of offsetting the aid. The CBO and the Treasury Department have said the funds, if left intact, would lead to tougher IRS enforcement and the collection of more tax revenues.” [NBC News, 11/1/23]
  • Right-wing media have repeatedly fearmongered that a well-funded IRS would be weaponized against average Americans

    • Right-wing media have spent years fearmongering that the Biden administration has emboldened the IRS to act as an “economic, financial militia against regular people.” [Media Matters, 4/20/23; 8/8/22]
    • According to a Media Matters study, Fox News falsely claimed over 200 times that the Inflation Reduction Act would add 87,000 employees to the IRS. In 2022, several Fox News hosts claimed that IRS agents were arming themselves to “grab all the cash they can by any means necessary,” and that the IRS was being used by Biden as a “new Gestapo.” [Media Matters, 8/9/22, 8/9/22, 8/25/22]
  • A number of right-wing media figures praised Johnson’s move, expressed support for the proposed bill, and attacked the IRS

    • The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro on the proposed bill: “I’m very much in favor of that bill. I think the IRS should be cut. I think the IRS is a terrible organization.” [Westwood One, The Ben Shapiro Show, 11/1/23]
    • Right-wing radio host Michael Knowles called Johnson “a pretty clever guy” for engineering a proposal that acts as “a good wedge issue to hit the Democrats on.” “Either they’re going to vote with Israel and lose their base, or they’re going to vote against Israel and lose their donors,” Knowles added. [The Michael Knowles Show, 11/1/23]
    • Fox News contributor and former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich: “The bill does not increase the deficit, does not increase the debt ceiling, does not increase the inflation rate.” Gingrich also called Johnson’s proposal “a brilliant move,” adding that Johnson “may well become a historic figure in the first couple of weeks of his speakership.” When asked about President Biden’s intent to veto the bill, Gingrich said, “He’s pretty stupid.” [Fox News, Hannity, 10/31/23]
    • Fox host Mark Levin argued that the IRS funds from the Inflation Reduction Act are being used to “go after the middle class.” Levin asserted that the Biden administration aimed to tie Israel aid to “border money, but not to secure the border,” but instead to “hire more people, administrators to rubber stamp… and get more people in here faster and faster.” [Westwood One, The Mark Levin Show, 10/31/23]
    • Fox host Laura Ingraham said the proposal amounted to “some rays of hope breaking through the clouds in the DC swamp.” “Turns out common sense isn’t totally dead,” Ingraham added, before arguing that the Biden Administration intended to use IRS funds from the Inflation Reduction Act to “hire thousands of new agents who would essentially harass hard working Americans.” [Fox News, Ingraham Angle, 10/31/23]
    • Right-wing radio host Glenn Beck called the proposed bill a “very smart move.” [Blaze Radio, The Glenn Beck Program, 10/31/23]