Overview:

Yes, the IRS will be adding employees. But only a fraction of the new hires will be 'agents,' and only 1 percent of these will be armed.

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Have you heard that the U.S. Internal Revenue Service is creating a new, “armed,” 87,000-agent strong “IRS super-police force … willing to kill” that will be targeting regular Americans to audit and investigate?

In his August 25 Washington Post column—“Another Republican Lie is Born”—Dana Milbank wrote that this lie is being “endlessly repeated by Republicans and the Fox News-led echo chamber” to discredit new legislation that accommodates an IRS staffing increase.

Let’s be clear: The GOP talking points are total bunk.

“Like the ‘death panel‘ fabrication during the Obamacare debate, this is a whole-cloth invention designed to stoke paranoia,” wrote Milbank in his rigorous, fact-checking piece.

He keyed on a statement by National Republican Senatorial Committee head Sen. Rick Scott (R-Florida) in an open letter last week warning Americans not to work for the IRS. Scott’s letter was clearly designed to terrify the arch-conservative GOP base already wary of and hostile to the federal government. He wrote:

The IRS made it very clear that one of the ‘major duties’ of these new positions is to ‘be willing to use deadly force.’ … The IRS is making it very clear that you not only need to be ready to audit and investigate your fellow hardworking Americans, your neighbors and friends, you need to be ready and, to use the IRS’s words, willing, to kill them.

Shocking if true, of course. Which it’s not.

Milbank required exactly 120 words to thoroughly debunk this bald-faced fabrication:

The IRS certainly isn’t adding 87,000 armed agents. It isn’t even adding 87,000 agents. In fact, it’s not even adding 87,000 employees.

When you figure in attrition (current funding doesn’t let the IRS fill all vacancies), Treasury officials tell me, the expected increase in personnel would be more like 40,000, over the course of a decade — which would merely restore IRS staffing to around the 117,000 it had in 1990.

Only about 6,500 of the new hires would be ‘agents.’ The rest would be customer-service representatives, data specialists and the like.

And fewer than 1 percent of the new hires would be armed. (The IRS job posting Scott cited, which predated the new law, was specifically for such law-enforcement personnel.)

That such a robust journalistic post-mortem is necessary to trash such shameful nonsense is a testament to this Hitlerian, Trumpian era, when one of two political parties is literally living in a venal, “alternative-facts universe.” Which is to say a nasty environment built on flim-flam.

And Rick Scott is only the leading edge of the GOP’s tsunami of disingenuous disinformation about IRS staffing plans.

Also enthusiastically spreading roughly the same bunkum, Milbank writes, are these nationally prominent Republicans: Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa), House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (California), Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, Fox New’s Brian Kilmeade, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Kentucky), Sen. Marco Rubio (Florida), Rep. Andy Biggs (Arizona), Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green (Georgia) and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Such statespeople.

Milbank said the media startup Grid “found that Republican members of Congress tweeted the “87,000 agents” falsehood hundreds of times, while Fox News has repeated it more than 90 times this month.”

It’s sad and not a little terrifying that we simply cannot trust anyone in authority in the now-alarmingly-misnamed “Party of Lincoln.”

The vortex of disinformation was, according to Grid, spawned by Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, which wrongly interpreted a Treasury Department proposal to add 86,852 IRS positions by 2031, and then GOP Sen. Joni Ernst (Iowa) repeated it—“and the Republicans were off to the races.”

That’s how bogs propaganda campaigns are born—induced with a useless shred of truth.

It’s sad and not a little terrifying that we simply cannot trust anyone in authority in the now-alarmingly-misnamed “Party of Lincoln.” And haven’t been able to for a while.

It is a factory farm for deceit.

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Rick Snedeker

Rick Snedeker is a retired American journalist/editor who now writes in various media and pens nonfiction books. He has received nine past top South Dakota state awards for newspaper column, editorial,...