Rick Morain

It's about time to fund the IRS

This column by Rick Morain first appeared in the Jefferson Herald.

U.S. Senate Democrats passed their omnibus Inflation Reduction Act on August 7 by 51 votes to 50, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote. They did so under so-called “reconciliation” rules, which require only a simple majority to pass bills related to appropriations, rather than the usual filibuster-blocking 60-vote margin.

The bill then went to the House, where Democrats approved it on a party-line 220 to 207 vote on August 12. President Joe Biden is expected to sign the bill this week.

The measure contains a number of provisions dear to the hearts of Democrats and many moderates: empowering Medicare to negotiate prices for several key drugs, capping Medicare recipients’ out-of-pocket costs at $2,000 a year, climate control incentives, extension of federal health care subsidies, a 15 percent minimum tax for most corporations whose profits exceed $1 billion a year, and other long-sought goodies.

By raising more money than the act will spend over a 10-year period, it will also enable the government to pay down some of the national debt by several hundred billion dollars. That hasn’t happened for the past 25 years.

A section of the act that particularly irritates Congressional Republicans – and many of their well-heeled donors – increases the funding of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by $80 billion over the next 10 years. A little more than half of that increase will go to hire thousands of new agents to audit tax returns.

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America Strong

This column by Rick Morain first appeared in the Jefferson Herald.

“You’ll never take back our country with weakness, you have to show strength and you have to be strong.”

“If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

—President Donald Trump, in his speech to supporters on the Ellipse on January 6, 2021, before the attack on the Capitol later that day

Let’s talk about “America Strong.”

For Trump, “strong” means supporting his Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Trump-strong means doing whatever it takes, legal or illegal, to help him remain in power after the January 20, 2021 presidential inauguration date.

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What "Critical Race Theory" actually is

This column first appeared in the Jefferson Herald and the Carroll Times Herald.

One evening in late October, the six candidates for the Greene County Community School Board were taking questions from district residents at a candidates’ forum held at Greene County Elementary School. One of the first was what each candidate thought about teaching critical race theory in the school district’s classes.

After a moment of silence, probably as the candidates tried to figure out what to say, they one by one gave brief answers, generally to the effect that they opposed teaching kids that people of difference races are inherently unequal or that they are inherently racist.

At that point another member of the audience asked if any of the candidates could explain “critical race theory.” Extended silence ensued.

That wasn’t surprising. Despite the bludgeoning of critical race theory among conservative politicians and media outlets, there’s very little explanation of what the theory is and how it might enlighten contemporary society.

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