One of Ted Budd’s first bills as NC’s senator is based on a GOP lie | Opinion

Ethan Hyman/

It didn’t take long for Ted Budd, recently sworn in as North Carolina’s newest U.S. senator, to start twisting the truth.

Budd has joined the fight to “stop Biden’s IRS expansion,” announcing Friday that he has sponsored a bill that will spare working families from the terror of 87,000 new IRS agents.

Here’s the thing: it’s based on a wildly misleading claim that has been repeatedly debunked.

The bill — known as the BAD IRS Activities Act — would rescind the roughly $70 billion in Internal Revenue Service funding that Congress approved last year as part of the Inflation Reduction Act. A similar bill was passed by the House earlier this month as its very first piece of legislation under a new Republican majority.

Republicans allege that those dollars will be used to assemble an “army of 87,000 IRS agents” who will target hard-working Americans. Some have even gone so far as to say that the agents will be armed. In a press release, Budd said the government “should not be hiring 87,000 new IRS agents to treat working families and small startup businesses like tax cheats.”

It’s a good thing that’s not actually happening.

The GOP has pushed this wildly exaggerated narrative for months, even though it has never been true. The 87,000 figure was pulled without context from a May 2021 estimate from the Treasury Department, and it captures the total number of employees the IRS hopes to hire over the course of the next decade.

First of all — as a slew of fact-checkers have pointed out — only a fraction of those hires would be enforcement agents. Second, the majority of those hires will be necessary to simply maintain the size of the agency’s shrinking workforce, as some 50,000 workers are expected to retire in the next decade. In fact, the funding increases will actually be of benefit to taxpayers, as the services provided by the IRS have suffered over the years due to budget cuts.

If Budd wants to help his constituents, he shouldn’t try to weaken the agency that ensures people pay their taxes. Investing in IRS improvements would generate $180 billion in revenue over 10 years, according to recent Congressional Budget Office estimates. Nobody’s taxes would go up — it would simply ensure compliance with existing tax policies and laws. Rescinding the funding, per Republican wishes, would increase the federal deficit by $114 billion through 2032, the CBO said.

Budd and his colleagues surely know this, but they’re ignoring it because truth doesn’t help them much politically. It’s troubling to see Budd being dishonest after just a couple of weeks on the job, and it doesn’t inspire much hope for the next six years of his term. He might have a new job, but he’s still the same Ted Budd.