Add another obstacle to the growing list President Joe Biden faces in his negotiations over his massive spending plans: mounting opposition to one of the ways to pay for his proposal — growing the IRS.
Conservative groups have launched a campaign of TV ads, social media messages and emails to supporters criticizing the proposal to hire nearly 87,000 new IRS workers over the next decade to collect money from tax cheats.
They accuse the Biden administration of pushing for the IRS expansion as a way to raise taxes, increase dues paid to left-leaning unions, and increase oversight on political organizations, as happened with the rise of Tea Party groups during the Obama presidency.
The campaign further dampens already remote prospects for bipartisan negotiations. Biden and fellow Democrats have held out hope that the $80 billion proposal to crack down on tax evasion by high-earners and large corporations could be an area of agreement between the two parties, even if the GOP is skeptical about the amount it could raise.
Many Republicans have already expressed opposition to the other ways Biden wants to raise money, including taxes on corporate and wealthy Americans, to pay for his roughly $4 trillion worth of plans to repair roads and bridges and offer free community college and paid family leave, among other proposals.
And some Republicans, who have long worked to shrink the IRS, hope opposition to the IRS proposal — which the administration says will raise $700 billion over a decade — could help defeat Biden’s costly spending plans altogether.
“As we polled multiple districts on multiple different messages the one that polled best for us was the notion of opposition to $80 billion dollars in hiring more tax collectors,'' said Marc Short, former chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence and founder of the new group Coalition to Protect American Workers.
“So that’s why I say I still think this is an Achilles heel for the overall plan.”
Short’s group, which formed to oppose Biden’s proposed tax increases, started airing a six-figure cable and local TV ad in House districts in Pennsylvania and Georgia. The group plans to expand their efforts to 20 House districts and six states.
“If Joe Biden gets his way, they are coming: IRS agents,” the narrator in the ad says. “Biden's massive tax increase plan includes a staggering $80 billion to help recruit an army of IRS agents.”
The ad, however, isn’t running under the coalition’s name. In fact, its disclaimer says it’s paid for by Building America's Future — the umbrella entity for a number of organizations that has been in existence for several years. That happens to be the same name of a 13-year-old advocacy group founded by former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Rendell said Friday that his Building America's Future, which supports Biden’s plans including the IRS proposal to crack down on tax cheats, is sending a cease and desist letter to demand Short’s group drop the name from the ad. “Clearly they are worried about our effectiveness to stop the Biden tax increase,” Short said.
A Data for Progress poll from three weeks ago found that 60 percent, including 40 percent of Republicans, support increased IRS enforcement, while 29 percent opposed it. Biden touted the proposal when he met with the four congressional leaders at the White House on May 12.