Critics are slamming Republicans for now attacking Internal Revenue Service agents just days after targeting the FBI.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) wildly claimed that IRS agents armed with assault-style rifles were preparing to show up on Americans’ doorsteps to audit their taxes once the agency has an additional $80 billion to enforce the law and sniff out cheats.
“Are they going to have a strike force that goes in with AK-15s already loaded, ready to shoot some small-business person in Iowa?” Grassley asked Thursday on “Fox & Friends.”
“I think they’re going after middle-class and small-business people, because basically they think ... they aren’t paying their fair share, and we’re going to go after them,” he added.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) falsely warned that a “new army of 87,000 IRS will be coming for you” if you “make $75,000 or less.”
Critics complained that such claims are not only flatly false, but dangerous for agents.
“Contrary to the misinformation from opponents of this legislation, small business or households earning $400,000 per year or less will not see an increase in the chances that they are audited,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen wrote to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig Thursday.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said in a statement Friday that the “incendiary conspiracy theories Republicans are pushing about armed IRS agents are increasingly dangerous and out of control. High-ranking Republicans are saying shockingly irresponsible things,” he added.
“Given the social media chatter we’re already seeing, it’s all too easy to imagine individuals using these conspiracy theories as justification for violence against public servants and their families,” Wyden said in the statement.
The IRS funding hike, which will occur over 10 years, is intended to help the IRS enforce various provisions in the new Inflation Reduction Act — and increase audits of wealthy scofflaws.
It’s predicted to raise more than $700 billion in new revenue by cracking down on tax cheats, taxing stock buybacks and extending a cap on deductions for business losses.
Members of the so-called “law and order” party appear to increasingly be verbally attacking those in the federal government enforcing the law.
Earlier this week, in the wake of the FBI search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home and golf resort in Florida, Trump derided the FBI as “sleazy,” Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) was urging Americans to “destroy the FBI,” and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) appeared to be calling for civil war.
The FBI Agents Association, which represents 14,000 current and past special agents, issued an angry statement Thursday saying that “calls for violence against law enforcement are unacceptable, and should be condemned by all leaders.”
This is “not a partisan or political issue. It is a matter of public safety and basic decency,” the statement added.
Gunman Ricky Shiffer, armed with an AR-15 assault rifle, was killed by police Thursday after he attempted to breach a Cincinnati FBI office amid the vicious social media attacks by Republican lawmakers and their supporters.
Larry Cosme, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, expressed alarm in an interview with The Washington Post over GOP warnings to Americans that federal agents are “coming for you.”
“The rank-and-file officers on the street and agents, they are career employees that … cherish the Constitution like the average American,” he said. “For them to be attacked ... is shameful and disgusting.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.