October 4, 2022
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D.C. Digest: Oklahoma delegation joins Republican IRS clamor | Govt-and-politics

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GOP Atax: Members of the delegation have also joined in the Republican chorus lamenting the 87,000 Internal Revenue Service employees authorized under the Democrats’ Inflation Relief Act.

“Disastrous,” said 2nd District Congressman Markwayne Mullin. “Washington should not be using your taxes to fix their spending problem.”

U.S. Sen. James Lankford, in a National Review editorial, predicted the $80 billion will be used to hire “tens of thousands of new auditors and enforcement agents” to harass average Americans over “honest mistakes.”

Certainly that’s possible, but it isn’t what the IRS or the Biden administration says will happen. Only $46 billion of the $80 billion is designated for enforcement. More broadly, the administration says the money will be used to take on more complex cases of intentional cheating that now go unprosecuted because of a 70-year low in the number of auditors.

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The administration says the new efforts will be directed entirely at filers earning more than $400,000.

But Mullin and Lankford repeated a Republican claim that 90% of recovered revenue will have to come from filers earning less than $200,000.

While independent analysts agree with Republicans that the Inflation Relief Act is unlikely to do much for inflation, they disagree on other GOP talking points, including this one.

It seems to be based on a September 2021 Joint Committee on Taxation analysis that addressed a Biden administration proposal, since dropped, to recover unpaid taxes by more closely monitoring individual bank accounts.

The Poynter Institute’s Politifact investigated the 90% claim after it was made by South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, and rated it false.

After interviewing tax experts, it concluded the year-old JCT analysis had little to no relevance to the plan to hire more IRS employees. Politifact reported the 90% figure originally applied to only 17% of all tax filers, and in any event was not applicable to the new law.

According to the IRS, most of the 87,000 new employees will be replacing old employees expected to retire or leave the agency over the next decade.

Republicans, though, are skeptical that is what will happen, and point out that only $3 billion is specifically designated for customer service.

Insulin: 1st District Congressman Kevin Hern last week explained his opposition to price caps on insulin by saying he believes they will do more harm than good in the long run.

Hern cites a 2018 report from the American Diabetes Association’s Insulin Access and Affordability Working Group, which said getting more biosimilar products on the market is a means for lowering insulin prices.

Lankford made a similar statement in Tulsa recently.

For complicated reasons, no true generic forms of insulin exist. Biosimilars, which mimic existing drugs but are not chemically identical, are seen as a viable alternative.

With the assistance of a 2020 law backed by Lankford and others, the process for designating some insulins as biosimilars became easier. In 2021, two biosimilars were approved and are expected to hit the market in a few years. Several others are in development.

Lankford said he expects some insulin prescriptions to drop to $30 soon without caps.

“The more biosimilars in the market, the lower the price,” said Hern. “Competition between brands always has been the most effective tool to lower prices and increase quality.”

Remember Afghanistan: Republicans in general, and members of Oklahoma’s delegation in particular, marked the anniversary of the United States’ messy withdrawal with calls for investigations.

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe joined two other senior GOP senators in asking for follow up information on Afghan refugees brought to the U.S. They say the displaced Afghans were not thoroughly screened and may present a security risk.

About 85,000 Afghans have been admitted to the U.S., according to Reuters, of which only a small number seem to have run afoul of the law. According to several reports, many are finding the transition difficult and a lack of adequate housing has made resettlement even harder.

Fourth District Congressman Tom Cole, meanwhile, wondered why Democrats have not investigated the withdrawal, which led to the collapse of Afghanistan’s civilian government and a takeover by the repressive Taliban.

“The aftermath of that decision in the days and weeks that followed was nothing short of disastrous, and the devastation and consequences of this failure remain,” Cole wrote to constituents.

Dots and dashes: Congress is still in summer recess. … Inhofe marked the six-month anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by saying: “We must remain united in this cause to show Putin — and the world — that we will not accept his attempts to use force to redraw Russia’s borders.” … Fourth District Congressman Tom Cole said a Democratic victory in a competitive New York congressional district special election is a “wake-up call” for Republicans.

— Randy Krehbiel, Tulsa World



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