Democrats’ $3.5 trillion spending package gives the IRS permission, and funding, to snoop on nearly every American’s bank account, Jessica Anderson, executive director of Heritage Action for America, says.
The “Biden administration is asking Congress to go … weaponize the IRS to spy on Americans,” Anderson says.
The future of the bill is unclear after Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said he could not support a spending bill over $1.5 trillion. Anderson joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to discuss how likely it is for the bill to move forward in Congress and what we know about the provisions in the package.
We also cover these stories:
- Christian schools are experiencing a boom in enrollment.
- Director of the Berkeley Atmospheric Sciences Center David Romps resigns, saying the organization has become political.
- City Council members in New York City vote unanimously to remove a statue of Thomas Jefferson.
Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript.
Virginia Allen: Jessica, the government is spending like never before. So thank you so much for joining “The Daily Signal Podcast” today to break down all of this spending. Jessica Anderson is the executive director of Heritage Action for America. Jessica, thanks for being here.
Jessica Anderson: Thank you so much for having me. It’s really great to be here today.
Allen: All right, so let’s start with the big bill. Everyone’s talking about the big spending bill, Democrats’ $3.5 trillion social spending package. A couple of weeks ago, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, he said that he couldn’t support a spending bill above $1.5 trillion. So then where does that leave Democrats’ $3.5 trillion bill? Are Democrats going to continue to try and ram this through? What happens if they can’t gain Manchin’s support?
Anderson: It’s such an interesting discussion right now going on on Capitol Hill, in particular within the new Democratic Party that’s being tugged from the moderates led by Joe Manchin and Abigail Spanberger in the House to the incredibly left-leaning, progressive part of the party being led by [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] and [Sen.] Bernie Sanders.
So you’ve got a couple of dynamics that I want to try to walk everybody through. So one, you just have just plain blanket policy differences about the role of the federal government and its role in our daily lives.
I’m not saying that moderate Democrats understand the role that we as conservatives would want to see, but they certainly have a much more “less is more” view than their counterparts of the progressive left. So you have this tug of war that Manchin has found himself in the middle of where he is disagreeing to the top-line spending.
But what’s underneath that are all of these different policies that are going to affect Americans from cradle to grave. And so it is a fundamental rewrite of American society if they are successful in passing this bill, and a lot of moderate Democrats don’t want to go down that route. So they’re opposing the package in principle or in the negotiation aspect right now, not just because of the egregious top-line spending, which is bad in and of itself, but because of everything that’s underneath it with these cradle-to-grave policies.
So when you look at the specifics of what’s in the bill, you have everything from welfare for illegal immigrants to critical race theory programs for nurses. You’ve got crazy tax and subsidy portions that would basically [mean] that rural America would be subsidizing the lifestyles of wealthy coastal elites.
I mean, this is social engineering at its worst that’s made up this bill. So it’s no surprise to me that they haven’t been able to agree because they’re so far apart, not only on the spending, but what exactly the spending annotates about the policies that would impact all of us Americans.
Allen: And like you say, it’s a huge bill. Obviously, the dollar amount is huge, but the physical bill itself when printed out is 2,465 pages. That’s about two Bibles. I mean, that’s huge. Massive.
Anderson: I don’t think anyone’s read it.
Allen: I mean, how could you? No one has time, no one in Congress has time to read this.
Anderson: For sure.
Allen: You mentioned a few of the kind of big items that are in here. Let’s dive a little bit deeper into this $3.5 trillion bill. What is actually inside this thing?
Anderson: What is actually packed into this bill is a legislative roadmap that would affect all Americans from literally cradle to grave. So it’s social policies that impact every aspect of our life. They go after businesses. It has provisions on energy, very, very similar to the Green New Deal.
It looks at all of our taxes. It actually insults businesses that are, frankly, hurting right now still from the lockdowns. And now with the COVID vaccine mandates from [President Joe] Biden, where it would drive higher business taxes than the rates that you would see in, let’s say, Communist China.
It has provisions that would provide abortion on demand, abortion for all. And then the IRS provisions that two weeks ago, very few people on the Hill were talking about, but this week more and more have realized just how far the Biden administration is asking Congress to go to weaponize the IRS to spy on Americans.
I mean, this is a huge part of the bill and they’re negotiating it, right? We saw yet just yesterday that they’re changing the threshold from $600 to $10,000 in bank transactions, then it would require the IRS to be allowed to be able to snoop in your bank account.
Well, if you’re an average American, you probably have $10,000 worth of bank transactions a year just by simply paying rent or simply paying your mortgage. And so to think that this is all of a sudden going to limit the spine or weaponizing of the IRS against Americans is just not true. Biden is trying to appease us, but he’s really missing the point. We don’t want to see American institutions going after us, going after all of us, everyday average Americans. And that’s what this bill does.
There’s also these huge provisions around illegal immigration. This is literally the largest amount of amnesty that has ever been tried to be pushed by Congress to date and it’s a huge amount of cost on taxpayers, let alone the issue of safety and security when we have a crumbling border that is completely porous and just driving chaos at the border.
So … the reason we’re saying it’s cradle to grave, it’s because all of these issues are interwoven. And it’s basically like the progressive policy wish list that they’ve campaigned on for a decade coming down to one big blender of a bill of this huge price tag of $3.5 trillion.
Allen: Yeah. The IRS issue, that fascinates me because I’m asking myself, what is the real point and objective? Because Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says, OK, the provision here is to give the IRS permission to look at any bank accounts that have more than, like you said, it was originally $600. Now they’ve bumped it up to $10,000 of money coming in and out over the course of a year. So yes, that probably applies to the majority, all Americans. What is actually the point? Why does the IRS need to be able to watch nearly every single American’s bank account?
Anderson: Well, they shouldn’t. And it’s really unfortunate that Yellen actually articulated like that because … I personally think that regardless of the dollar amount, the principle of the IRS being able to reach in and snoop on your bank account and to monitor your transactions is not the role of the federal government. So even if this was, which it’s not, even if this was just targeted toward billionaires, why is that the role of the federal government anyway?
What they make should not open the door for a specific policy for one group or another. We should have policies that protect the freedoms of Americans because freedom is the bedrock of our American society. And so the more you drip away at that, you take away individual rights and you take away individual freedoms.
So what they’re setting up, I think, is another example of an institution that we have come to rely on in the United States that is being weaponized for political purposes. It started with the DOJ, the Department of Justice. We’re seeing some of it in the weaponization that [Attorney General Merrick] Garland is issuing to go after different state policies. We saw this with the Georgia election integrity bill, the Texas abortion bill. Now, the IRS. Why would we ever trust the IRS when we look at their history of specifically going after and hurting conservatives?
So we should not be giving more power to the federal government. We should not be giving more power to federal institutions. And this is just, I think, a blatant example of … a very twisted view of using our American institutions against us for their political means.
Allen: Let’s talk about taxes. What do we know about tax hikes in this $3.5 trillion spending bill for a family in Georgia making $55,000 a year or a couple in California making $68,000 a year? Will their taxes go up if Democrats succeed in pushing this through?
Anderson: Taxes across the board are going to rise. So period, we’re going to owe more of our own hard-earned dollars to the federal government, regardless of what we make.
And you know, the Biden press secretary the other day, I guess it was a week or two now, said, “Well, we don’t expect that taxes are going to increase to pay for this bill.” I mean, that’s just fundamentally wrong. I mean, it’s just crazy. The White House has come out with this propaganda, saying that the bill is entirely paid for and it won’t cost the taxpayer dollars anything. I mean, that’s just fundamentally not true.
Taxes are going to increase. They’re going to increase for the individual earner, for the family, and for businesses. It’s going to be across the board. So not only do they roll back President [Donald] Trump’s very successful Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, but they go even further with the energy subsidies that are in place, with the paid leave, with a whole host of taxes that will hurt the business.
And while they’re trying to split it up and say, “Well, if this business makes this dollar, then they’ll have this sort of tax,” all of that is irrelevant because they’re just trying to put dressing on this dramatic tax increase that we’re going to feel at a time when I think Americans are most vulnerable.
Businesses are just now trying to open up. They’re trying to get back on their feet. We’re trying to fill labor shortages. We have a supply chain problem all over the country, let alone off the coast of California. It’s like we’re being kicked while we’re down instead of providing strong pro-growth, pro-American policies that will lift us up and move us away from this Biden-induced inflation coma.
So we have a lot of work to do, I think, as conservatives to, one, call balls and strikes in this package, urge Republicans to vote “no,” and urge Congress to recognize its role and not allow this package to move through. And I thank Manchin, by coming out and saying, “Look, I’m not going to be subject to the whims of the progressive left,” is a step in the right direction. And we need to keep this debate going so that they can’t be successful in passing this.
Allen: Heritage Action for America does so much at a grassroots level. You-all have individuals that you call Sentinels all over America that are working with you. And you’re often in touch with them to kind of hear what are your thoughts on different policies. So as you have talked with folks all over the country, what are they saying about this bill? What do they think about the government trying to spend $3.5 trillion on this massive list of social Democrat priorities?
Anderson: They hate it, right? Biden does not have a mandate to do these things. He didn’t win his election on a long list of campaign directives or visions for America, he ran against Trump. His entire platform was anti-Trump. And so to think that the people that voted for Biden are going to want to see this entire new cradle-to-grave proposal being pushed through is just completely out of touch with the American people. The reality is he doesn’t have a mandate. He doesn’t have instructions on how to lead. It’s not from the American people. So they’re upset.
We were just on tour. We went to five cities across the country. We actually started in California. We ended in Georgia and we hit Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Florida, and Georgia, all across the country. Talking with business owners. We had an almond farmer in California, hair salon owners in Georgia, a bait and tackle shop, or a hunting and tackle shop up in New Hampshire, a restaurant in Florida, all telling the stories about how they’ve been hurt from the lockdowns. They are hurt from the increase in unemployment and the state having to still pay unemployment insurance to keep people home, like in the case of California.
And then now you add in these heavy taxes, additional regulations. It’s going to hurt their businesses. And it’s easy to be like, “Oh, well, business, there’s no face to that,” but these are real-life people. These are entrepreneurs. The case of the hair salon owners, these are single moms that are trying to provide for their families.
And so when we say “business,” we should really understand it as a family, as an individual, the people that make it up. And so what we hear from them is that they don’t like this. They are adamantly opposed. And they want Biden to understand and frankly, the entire administration and congressional leadership, regardless of party, to understand the needs of everyday Americans, where we don’t want to continue to be beat down and burdened by the government.
Allen: So what happens if Manchin stays strong, Sen. Joe Manchin, and continues to say, “You know what? I’m not going to support any spending package that’s above $1.5 trillion.” Do we know what is going to get cut from this package? Do we know how quickly we might see this move forward?
Anderson: We don’t know that yet. They’re in the middle of those negotiations right now.
I would argue, though, and I think most conservatives are going to agree with this, that whether it’s a $1.5 trillion package or a $3.5 trillion package, the top-line spending is only one part of the equation. Look at all the policies that make up that bill. That is what conservatives are opposed to. That is what Manchin should, frankly, be making his arguments against because he doesn’t want to support, because West Virginians don’t support a complete remake of American society.
So if they carve out the edges and try to get the top-line dollar down, that’s fine. But we’ll look at the bill and we are still going to have deep, deep concerns with the social engineering and re-makeup of society that’s being put forward by the left.
Allen: America, our national debt is ever-increasing. We’re at about $28 trillion right now. Congress just narrowly averted defaulting on our national debt last week. Why is Congress focused on passing a social spending bill when we are dealing at the same time with trying to avoid defaulting on our national debt?
Anderson: Unfortunately, a lot of the progressive left has a misconstrued vision for what economic growth looks like and whether it is good or bad and how to get there. And so they think by spending more, you can spend your way out of debt. We know that that’s fundamentally not true.
Look how you run your family. I would never spend more to get my bank statement of the money I owe my credit card to be less. You need to be able to work more. You need to have access to jobs. You need to decrease the red tape and the regulation. You need to actually have the ability to make more dollars to then pay off that debt. The only way you’re going to do that is if you remove the barriers that exist for economic growth that Biden has, unfortunately, put up all across the country with the lockdowns, with unemployment insurance, and now with this increase in taxes.
So it’s a fundamental different view that exists between the right and the left of how you view the economy and how you view economic growth. And then if you’re someone like [Ocasio-Cortez], whether you even want to see economic growth, I think she would be just as happy with everyone being in food lines like in Venezuela. I mean, she’s said as much with the policies that she’s supporting.
So it is a mistake, it is a big mistake to be ignoring the current threats in our country. The American people know this. They’re going to remember it by the time we get around to 2022. And my hope is that we continue to use every leverage and every point of power that we have as Americans, as voters, as activists to push back.
Allen: Are there other spending bills or policies that you are watching really closely right now in Congress that we, as the American people, should be concerned about?
Anderson: Absolutely. This entire reconciliation package is directly tied to the infrastructure bill. Manchin has said as much and confirmed what we had heard from Democratic leaders, [Senate Majority Leader] Chuck Schumer and [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi, that have said these two bills are intertwined. One opens the door for the other.
In the case of the Senate, unfortunately, the infrastructure bill passed there, it opened the door then to allow this reconciliation bill to begin to be negotiated by the four corners. And so now you’re in a place where on the House side, these two bills are tied to each other and Pelosi is going to have to make a decision. Does she try to move the infrastructure bill alone, of which case then she will lose all of the progressive left that has demanded that it go hand-in-glove with the reconciliation package, but maybe she picks up some Republicans? I think that’s yet to be seen.
So watching how these two bills move in tandem with each other is going to be really important, especially over the next 10 days as Congress comes up on the Pelosi deadline of Oct. 31, Halloween, to have all of this done.
Allen: OK. Wow. Scary Halloween.
Anderson: Scary Halloween.
Allen: All right. Jessica, before we let you go, I need to ask you about a very important vote that is happening in Congress today. It’s supposed to happen on an election bill. This is essentially Democrats’ last attempt through legislation to federalize elections. Tell us about this vote.
Anderson: So, the fight to keep our elections safe and secure has been raging all here. The Democrat Party, led by Pelosi and Schumer, came out with their landmark election federal overtake bill at the beginning of the year. It’s called HR 1 or S 1. And since January, the federal overtake of our election has completely evolved in terms of what the legislation was.
They’ve gotten up to bat three times. This will now be the fourth time in trying to introduce these bills that don’t have the support of the American people. They completely erode any state laws that are in place. They do away with voter ID. They make it much more easier to cheat when you’re looking at fraud at the local and the state level. They scrap any sort of safeguards around absentee ballots, around early voting, around counting poll workers, poll watchers. It’s a whole host of policy proposals.
So we expect that the vote will be today, that they will try this fourth attempt to federalize our election system. Manchin has found himself in the middle of this again. He’s driving some of this train. He has called this a compromise, but it’s unfortunate because he really only compromised with himself. There was no attempt to reach across the aisle and work with Republicans. And there was certainly no attempt to try to understand where Americans are on this, which, they want to see elections safe and secure, and that can’t be accomplished with a federalization of the bill or of the entire system.
So I expect the vote to be today. This is the “Freedom to Cheat Act,” as we’ve named it. And it really would codify the worst parts of the federal overtake, including taking away any voter ID in the country, which, as we know, is something that polls 85% to 90% of support from the American people.
Allen: And we do expect that this vote will fail, though. Correct?
Anderson: Yeah. The expectation is because they don’t have Republican support, Republicans that will cross the aisle and support the bill, that the bill will go down and that this will be then the fourth attempt to try to do this.
And at each point they’re using the legislative process to try to create this narrative in the country that conservatives, that freedom-loving Americans are racist or that we’re out of touch, we’re trying to disenfranchise votes. None of that is true. And so they use these legislative cliffs that they’ve manufactured to drive that narrative.
But as we’ve learned the last six weeks, that narrative is not working, because the American people are smart. And we look at these bills and we’re like, I have to use an ID to buy beer, to go to an MLB baseball game, to board an airplane, to get my vaccine. So, I mean, it’s just crazy to think that they have twisted the intent of Americans. They’ve twisted the intent of legislators to keep our elections safe and secure, to put their political agenda first and foremost. And I think we’re going to see that on full display again with the vote today.
Allen: We chatted just briefly about all of the grassroots work that you do. For anyone that’s listening that’s thinking, “Wow, you’re doing great work,” how can they get more involved with Heritage Action for America and even learn about being a Sentinel?
Anderson: Well, we need the help. This is any fight, whether it’s opposing Biden’s tax and spending spree with this reconciliation bill to the work for ensuring safe and secure elections at the state and the federal level, you can text 51776 to join the team, get all of our talking points, all of our behind the scenes information, and follow along as we seek to elevate the voice of the American grassroots, as we push back against these dangerous policies.
Allen: Excellent. Jessica Anderson, the executive director of Heritage Action for America. Jessica, thank you for your time.
Anderson: Thanks for having me.
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