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Graham: ‘God help us’ when IRS gets 87,000 new agents

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Tuesday attacked a provision in Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act that would significantly increase the number of agents working for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). 

Graham said at a press conference with South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) that hiring 87,000 new IRS agents is “supposed to be for the rich,” but the rich have “a bunch of lawyers and accountants,” and more than half of IRS audits are conducted on people making less than $75,000 per year. 

“If you think the federal government is out of control now, God help us when you get 87,000 new IRS agents who are looking under every rock and stone to get money out of your pocket,” he said. 

Graham said the new hires will expand the IRS by two and a half times.

The IRS employed more than 78,000 people during fiscal 2021, and the legislation would complete additional hires over the next 10 years, investing $80 million to increase enforcement. 

Graham said he will fight the proposal “tooth and nail” and attempt to redirect the funding for the IRS to immigration enforcement every year that the agency expands. He said he would like to see “a lot” more Border Patrol agents and fewer IRS agents. 

Graham said the bill, which passed the Senate on Sunday through reconciliation after a marathon of votes on amendments, would harm South Carolina’s economy and is a “power grab in the name of climate change.” He added that the legislation is a “tax-and-spend” bill at a time when the country can least afford it.

In addition to the IRS expansion, the $430 billion legislation includes provisions to provide tax credits to incentivize cleaner energy choices, allow Medicare to directly negotiate lower drug prices and implement a 15 percent minimum tax on the income that large corporations report to shareholders. 

The bill passed along party lines, with Vice President Harris casting a tiebreaking vote in the 50-50 Senate. Graham said every Republican voted against it because they understood in March 2021 that it would not work. 

The legislation is a smaller version of President Biden’s original Build Back Better proposal, a $3.5 trillion climate and social spending package that stalled last year due to opposition from moderate Democrats. 

Graham said the “massive spending and taxes” in the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus that Biden proposed as the country sought to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic, is to blame for high inflation numbers. He said the new bill will “make everything worse.”

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