The World and Everything in It: August 25, 2022
Concerns over a significant spending increase for the IRS; a Florida act that aims to eliminate wokeness may go too far; and a pastor in Canada helps his congregation process a mass shooting amid COVID lockdowns. Plus: commentary from Cal Thomas, and the Thursday morning news.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Good morning!
The Inflation Reduction Act authorizes a significant spending increase for the IRS. Should we be concerned? We’ll talk about it.
PAUL BUTLER, HOST: Also the governor of Florida is trying to protect children from CRT and transgenderism, but free speech advocates say he might be going too far.
Plus two years ago—the worst mass shooting in Canada. We’ll hear from a pastor who had to figure out how to help his church and community through their anger and grief—in the midst of strict shut-down restrictions.
And Cal Thomas thinks it’s time to take another look a decades old idea about taxes.
BROWN: It’s Thursday, August 25th. This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Myrna Brown.
BUTLER: And I’m Paul Butler. Good morning!
BROWN: Up next, Kristen Flavin with today’s news.
KRISTEN FLAVIN, NEWS ANCHOR: Student debt » President Biden on Wednesday rolled out plans to cancel up to $10,000 in federal college loans.
He told reporters at the White House…
BIDEN: Nearly 45 percent can have their student debt fully canceled. That’s 20 million people.
That’s for those earning less than $125,000 a year. Low-income households that took a Pell grant are eligible for an additional $10,000 loan-forgiveness.
But Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said many Americans don’t borrow or go to college…
MCCONNELL: And then there are those Americans who borrowed money to pay for school and paid it back. In what way is it fair to those taxpayers?
Biden also said he’s extending the pause on student loan repayment one last time.
BIDEN: I’m extending it till December 31, 2022, and it’s going to end at that time.
Republicans question whether the president has the legal authority to cancel the debt. And some economists say the move could further fuel inflation.
U.S. Syria airstrike » The U.S. military conducted a precision airstrike in Syria on Wednesday, targeting Iran-backed militias.
Colin Kahl is Undersecretary of Defense for Policy. He said the strike was a response to recent attacks on U.S. military personnel.
KHAL: This operation is a demonstration that the United States will not hesitate to defend itself against Iranian and Iran-backed aggression when it occurs.
The Pentagon says U.S. forces accomplished their mission of destroying infrastructure facilities used by groups affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.
Aid to Ukraine » The United States has announced roughly $3 billion in additional military aid to Ukraine.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said this will add to an already massive investment in helping Ukraine repel Russian invaders.
KIRBY: The president has committed an unprecedented $13.5 billion dollars of security assistance alone to Ukraine.
This $3-billion measure marks the largest single aid package the United States has provided to date.
The Pentagon says this package is focused not on immediate needs, but rather on the big picture.
It includes money for various weaponized drones and the Vampire anti-drone system. It will also pay for missile systems, counter-artillery radars, and more than 300,000 rounds of artillery and ammunition.
Ukraine Independence Day » The announcement came as Ukraine celebrated its Independence Day.
One Kyiv resident said Russia has not crushed the spirit of the Ukrainian people.
AUDIO: It’s very scary but people are different. People are determined, united, and we all believe in our victory. And we really need Europe to still support us and to stand with us till our victory to celebrate together.
To mark the occasion, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a surprise visit to Kyiv.
JOHNSON: We have an opportunity to join you in saying no to tyranny, saying no to those who would stifle Ukrainian liberty and independence.
Ukraine declared independence in 1991 from the Soviet Union.
President Biden called the holiday a “bittersweet” occasion amid Russia’s bloody invasion. But he said “six months of relentless attacks have only strengthened Ukrainians’ pride in themselves, in their country,” and in their independence.
Federal judge blocks HHS abortion guidance » In Texas, a federal judge said doctors are not required to perform an abortion as a part of emergency care. WORLD’s Mary Muncy has more.
MARY MUNCY, REPORTER: Hospitals in the Medicare program are legally required to provide emergency care to patients, regardless of whether they can pay for it.
That’s part of the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act.
But the Department of Health and Human Services has interpreted that law to mean doctors must provide abortions to protect the life and health of the mother.
But U.S. District Judge James Wesley Hendrix disagreed. He said the law requires doctors to protect the mother and the baby.
He also said that the HHS interpretation does not override state law.
Texas protects babies in every case except to save the life of the mother.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Mary Muncy.
Lapid on Iran nuke deal » State Department spokesman Ned Price confirmed on Wednesday that the United States has responded to Iran’s latest offer to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.
He did not provide details about that offer or the Biden administration’s response.
But Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said he’s troubled by what he’s seen.
LAPID: Israel is not against any agreement. We are against any agreement … because it is a bad one. It does not meet the standards set by President Biden himself preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear state.
Lapid said Western nations are too quick to concede to Iranian demands.
LAPID: The countries of the West draw a red line, the Iranians ignore it and the red line moves. if the Iranians didn't take it why didn't the world leave it?
Any nuclear deal would certainly include major sanctions relief. And Lapid said Iran would use unfrozen cash to fund terrorism and undermine stability in the Middle East.
I’m Kristen Flavin. Straight ahead: possible concerns over a significant increase to the IRS.
Plus, a pastor seeking to provide comfort to his congregation after a mass shooting.
This is The World and Everything in It.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: It’s Thursday the 25th of August, 2022.
Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Myrna Brown.
PAUL BUTLER, HOST: And I’m Paul Butler. First up on The World and Everything in It: concerns over the IRS.
The “Inflation Reduction Act” signed by the President last week authorizes a significant spending increase for the Internal Revenue Service. Critics warn that the IRS will use that money to hire agents who will target the middle class with audits and seizures.
BROWN: Joining us now from Washington is WORLD reporter Leo Briceno. Good morning!
LEO BRICENO, REPORTER: Good morning! Thanks for having me.
BROWN: Leo, you looked into the claims that the IRS might be making some new hires with the funding they’re slotted to receive. Can you fill us in on what that might look like?
BRICENO: Sure—yeah, there have been a lot of concerns, especially from fiscal conservatives, that the IRS might be adding as many as 87,000 new employees with the funding made possible through the Inflation Reduction Act. They’ve received almost 80-billion dollars over a 10 year period, ending in 2031. With that kind of funding, the IRS could double their current workforce. And that is something that conservative lawmakers have been very wary of. That number, 87,000, has become a key talking point for opponents of the Inflation Reduction Act. Here’s South Dakota Sen. John Thune during the floor debate on the bill:
THUNE: Madam President, $80 billion to the IRS for an additional 87,000 employes. 87,000 employees. You’re going to have tax agents moving in with families around this country.
BROWN: That is a pretty big number, so has the IRS said that it wants to hire 87,000 employees?
BRICENO: No, not explicitly. That number is a little bit more of an estimate than it is a concrete plan of what the IRS hopes to do. In a 2021 Report, the IRS outlined what kind of updates it needed in terms of technology, workforce, and resources in order to stay competitive with developing methods of tax evasion—and they extrapolated that estimation a decade into the future. The report said that if Congress were to give the IRS $80 billion, they could use that money to hire up to 87,000 in a decade. So that figure is a projection of how many employees the IRS might need in 2031, based on how the IRS operates now. That doesn’t mean that they’re tied to hiring that many people.
But you can understand the concern, the IRS got exactly what they were asking for, so now observers can’t help but think, ‘well…now they have the funding…they’re probably going to do exactly what they said they were going to do.’
BROWN: Ok, I see. So what would these new employees be doing?
BRICENO: For now, filling the holes the IRS needs filled. But in the long run, the IRS hopes that by the end of a decade, that extra manpower can help bring in as much as $200 billion in lawfully-owned tax revenue. The IRS says a lot of taxable money is slipping through their fingers right now, but if they up their scrutiny, they can help bolster the government’s funding. Right now, they’re hoping to find that amount by increasing the number of audits on Americans making more than $400,000 annually, which is kind of problematic.
BROWN: Why is that a problem?
BRICENO: Well, you’ve got to wonder. Are there enough Americans to audit making $400,000 such that you could collect $200 billion over a decade? Things may change in 10 years, but as it stands right now, not everyone is so sure. I spoke with Rachel Greszler, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation’s Grover M. Hermann Center for the Federal Budget. She says that number is a bit of a longshot if the IRS intends to only increase audits for people making $400,000 or more.
GRESZLER: Well, just the total amount of new money that they were projecting would come in from these audits is very large. And then thinking through, well, is there actually even that much money at the top and that much being avoided—whether it’s intentional or inadvertent? Yeah, I just don’t see them being able to generate $204 billion in new revenues from enforcement if they’re only going to be using that new funding to go after people that are making more than $400,000. The money just does not seem to be there, and that’s based on their own reports about how much comes in from additional audits.
BROWN: What will the IRS do if it can’t meet the numbers it says it can find?
BRICENO: That’s a good question. I don’t know that there’s a concrete answer to that just yet. But if they miss their projections, the Federal government will have less funds to work with or the IRS will have to find more people to audits and new loopholes to close.
BROWN: Leo Briceno, thanks so much.
BRICENO: Thanks for having me!
BROWN: To read more of Leo’s coverage of this story, we’ve included a link in today’s transcript. And if you’d like to receive our free newsletter on politics and government each Thursday look for The Stew at wng.org/newsletters.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Up next: Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis recently told a Pennsylvania audience that his state was “where woke goes to die.” But in at least one respect, a federal judge has given wokeness a stay of execution.
PAUL BUTLER, HOST: In March, Florida legislators passed the Individual Freedom Act (IFA)–also dubbed the “Stop Woke Act.” The measure amends the state’s civil rights law to bar schools and employers from requiring employees to attend certain types of sensitivity training. And it bans the teaching of things like critical race theory.
BROWN: But critics say the bill goes too far, infringing on First Amendment rights, and at least one federal judge agrees.
Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, an Obama appointee, issued an order temporarily putting a hold on the implementation of the law.
BUTLER: Steve West recently wrote about the legal battle surrounding this measure, and he joins us now to fill us in on the details. He is an attorney and writes about religious liberty issues for WORLD Digital. Good morning, Steve!
WEST: Good morning, Paul!
BUTLER: First of all, Steve, does this apply just to schools and government agencies? Or also to private employers?
WEST: The law actually applies to all three–to government, school, and private employers. But this lawsuit deals only with private employers who use these kinds of methods–often referred to as critical race or anti-racist theories–in their training of employees.
BUTLER: What kinds of teaching or training does it actually prevent and why?
WEST: There’s a lot addressed in the law, but a few examples help. The law bars teaching that one race is morally superior to another race. Or, telling employees that because they are members of a particular race they are inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive. Or even that because you are a certain race, you bear responsibility for past actions against another race and should now be discriminated against. When you actually say these things out loud, it’s quite shocking to think that these concepts are being promoted by a significant number of employers in mandatory training–even by the Biden administration.
BUTLER: Alright, so tell us about the legal challenge. Who is fighting this and what is their argument against it?
WEST: There are three challengers: Honeyfund.com, a technology firm; Primo, a Ben and Jerry’s franchisee; and a diversity consultant who sought to implement “anti-racist” training. Their argument is that this is a viewpoint-based restriction on private speech, something barred by the First Amendment. Private employers have First Amendment rights too, of course, so there's support for their argument, even if you disagree with it. On the other hand, the state is saying that this is a restriction on conduct alone, that the law doesn’t say employers can’t train on these concepts, only that you can’t make employees attend it. That too is an argument that has some support, but the court wasn’t buying it.
BUTLER: Okay, so where does this case stand now and what’s next?
WEST: Gov. DeSantis has already said that the ruling would be appealed. But in the meantime, the state is barred from applying the law to private employers. Interestingly enough, the judge did hold out the prospect that because of this kind of training, if the work environment is coercive enough, an impacted employee could bring an action for “hostile work environment”--hostile because of your race or sex. That’s a violation of a federal law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. It’ll be interesting to see who takes him up on that, as I have read of situations where employees with objections have been hassled, demoted, or disciplined for voicing objections. Frankly, I think many companies will stop using such heavy-handed and controversial training when they sense there is little support for it among their customers. As a prospective employee, it would also make me want to know the kind of training I would be required to attend, should I be hired.
BUTLER: So this affects private employers, but what about schools?
WEST: On the same day this ruling was issued a group of instructors and students at Florida universities, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, also sued the state. Interestingly enough, they call the law “racially motivated censorship” to shut down discussion of “systemic inequalities”--yet as far as I can tell, dissent is not generally well-received in these settings. If companies (and universities) are really interested in discussion, they should bring in trainers who can present a different viewpoint. As the saying goes, the answer to speech you don't agree with is more speech, not less. Not cowed silence, not demonization of those with whom we disagree, but gentle persuasion.
BUTLER: Steve West writes about religious liberties for WORLD Digital. You can read his work at WNG.org. You can also subscribe to his free weekly newsletter on First Amendment issues, called Liberties. Steve, always good to have you on. Thank you!
WEST: My pleasure, Paul.
PAUL BUTLER, HOST: Pilot Mack Rutherford, a Belgian-British dual national, just set a world record with an around the world journey.
Of course, he’s not the first pilot to circle the globe. But there are a couple of factors that make this feat special.
He made the trip in an ultra-light airplane, which definitely is not designed for long-range travel.
That means lots of stops for refueling. And that means lots of visas and paperwork.
Then there were the elements, including monsoon rains, sandstorms, and extreme heat.
Mack says those challenges added months to the trip.
RUTHERFORD: It was supposed to take between two to three months, and it’s been 5 months now.
The journey took Rutherford through 52 countries over five continents and along the way, he celebrated his 17th birthday.
He landed Wednesday in Bulgaria, where his journey began, becoming the youngest person to fly around the world by himself.
He also became the youngest pilot to fly around the world in a micro-light plane, breaking his sister’s record.
Zara Rutherford made the trip at age 19!
BROWN: That is one adventurous family!
BUTLER: It’s The World and Everything in It.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Thursday, August 25th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day.
Good morning. I’m Myrna Brown.
PAUL BUTLER, HOST: And I’m Paul Butler.
In April, 2020, a gunman dressed as a police officer went on a 13-hour shooting spree in rural Nova Scotia, Canada. He killed 23 people, including an unborn baby, and burned down five houses.
BROWN: The event devastated the close-knit community. Today we meet one local pastor who had to lead his church through the grief process during severe pandemic restrictions. WORLD Radio intern Anna Mandin spent a day with him recently and brings us his story.
CAMPBELL: It was during worship, that was when we found out what was happening—kind of tried our best to carry on, and then try to figure it out after.
ANNA MANDIN, INTERN: On the morning of April 19th, 2020, Pastor Andrew Campbell was leading online worship with his wife.
SERVICE VIDEO: Christ alone, cornerstone
Campbell is the pastor of St. James Presbyterian Church in Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada. At the time, churches were shut down.
NEWS VIDEO: The Coronavirus officially reaches pandemic proportions
The Campbells were at home live-streaming the service from their living room.
CAMPBELL: Folks would join in in the chat or whatever, through the chatbox. And we would try to interact a little bit that way.
Between the usual “Good mornings” were two unusual messages. One said, “my prayers are with our friends in Portapique today...Stay Safe.” Another was similar: “good morning everybody thank God for safety.”
CAMPBELL: kind of tried our best to carry on, and then try to figure it out after it was later on in that day, just with a couple conversations with some other folks wondering if I had spoken or heard from John or Joanne.
He hadn’t. News was circulating about a shooting in Portapique, where church members John Zahl and Elizabeth Joanne Thomas lived. Police were on a manhunt for the shooter. For most of the morning, no one knew where he was. In the midst of it, Nova Scotians tried to piece together whether they knew any of the victims. Campbell called and messaged church members to see if they’d heard from the couple.
CAMPBELL: Come to find out later into that evening, that they were among the ones who were suspected to have been killed the night before. So that was really heartbreaking.
At the same time, Canadians around the country were learning of the tragedy.
NEWS VIDEO: On this night, the deadly mass shooting in Nova Scotia...
A 51-year-old man killed 23 people, including one unborn child, over the span of 13 hours and more than 60 miles. It was Canada’s deadliest mass shooting.
CAMPBELL: It took, at least I'd say, most of us a week to sort of get our heads around everything that happened. It takes a while to get your head and your heart to kind of line up and realize that yeah, this happened and and it hurts.
Usually, Campbell would have opened the church for people to come together to pray and grieve. But at the time, churches weren’t allowed to have in-person services. Campbell organized a Zoom call instead.
CAMPBELL: It wasn't maybe as what we would have wanted, but I think at least met some of the needs that we had, to be able to come together. I remember just talking a little bit about what had happened and that reminder of how even even in our darkest moments we need to turn to Christ, that that He is the light.
As the weeks went on, Campbell went through many dark moments.
CAMPBELL: I had to find a way to lament, to actually give it to God, because me trying to hang onto it wasn’t going to work.
He went to Psalms—like Psalm 6:
PSALM 6: Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing; heal me, O LORD, for my bones are troubled. My soul also is greatly troubled. But you, O LORD – how long?
CAMPBELL: How long? Oh, Lord, how long are we going to keep seeing this kind of news? Weekly, monthly, popping up daily at times?
NEWS: Thank you for joining us this evening as Nova Scotians try to come to grips with a deadly shooting spree in the province.
NEWS: The why will probably never make sense of such a horrific act.
This week, a public inquiry resumed to try to understand more about the shooting and the police response. After public outcry, officials are seeking to answer questions like why did it happen? What actually occurred in those 13 hours? Could police have prevented some deaths?
Campbell says he’s a “why person.” He wanted to know why something like this would happen. And he had to fight the temptation to become numb rather than process the pain.
CAMPBELL: Jesus very clearly told us that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength. Who are we as His creation, if we start closing off parts of that?
But there were other people grieving alongside Campbell.
During the first week after the attacks, Campbell and his wife, too tired to cook, ordered Thai food from a local restaurant.
AUDIO: [Thai restaurant]
Four or five people were waiting inside. A T.V. was showing news about the shooting. The people in line began to talk.
Every person knew at least one of the victims.
Communities in Nova Scotia are very interconnected. The province has less than one million people, and families have often lived in rural towns for generations.
CAMPBELL: It was breathtakingly beautiful and yet so harrowing and heartbreaking to see all of those connections that we have as people and yet seeing all of them sort of snapped or broken at the same time.
Some people were angry at God. But Campbell saw that as an opportunity. He’d ask them:
CAMPBELL: If you're angry, can I pray with you? Can we take that to God?
Campbell understood their anger. He struggled with it too.
CAMPBELL: We end up a little possessive of our own anger, we don't want to let it go. And following Jesus means that we have to be willing to let God have that.
As a pastor, Campbell spent hours shepherding others through their grief. But there were times when the congregation pastored him as well.
CAMPBELL: Church is at its best when we are all having that level of openness, and that it's not one person who's above and one person who's below, but that we're all brothers and sisters.
Campbell continues to grieve, especially in the face of the public inquiry. But he hasn’t lost the hope they sang about in April 2020.
SERVICE VIDEO: When darkness seems to hide His face, I rest on His unchanging grace.
CAMPBELL: Certainly those were some very dark days and I think there was also a lot of those moments where God was showing up and reminding us and moving us towards light and hope.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Mandin in Truro, Nova Scotia.
PAUL BUTLER, HOST: Today is Thursday, August 25th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Paul Butler.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown. We spoke earlier about some of the challenges facing the Internal Revenue Service. Perhaps there’s a simpler way to make sure taxes are properly filed and collected. Commentator Cal Thomas now on the benefits of the flat tax. He admits it’s not a new idea, but Cal says its simplicity and moral clarity have never been more relevant.
CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: The next time Republicans control all three branches of government they may wish to visit an old idea–the flat tax. When magazine publisher and Republican Steve Forbes ran for president in 1996, the flat tax was at the heart of his campaign.
Forbes lost the nomination to Bob Dole, who lost the election to Bill Clinton. But the idea has merit. Coupled with a serious reduction in wasteful and unnecessary spending, a flat tax could revive the economy for decades to come.
Forbes proposed a 17% flat tax with generous exemptions of $13,000 for each adult and $5,000 for each child. He proposed eliminating “unfair double taxation of personal savings, Social Security, pensions, capital gains, and dividend income. … You deposit after-tax income, let your money multiply in value with compound interest, and then withdraw your money tax-free.”
Forbes also wanted to erase the “unfair alternative minimum tax and ‘death’ taxes,” calling them “regressive taxes that hurt working families, small business owners and especially farmers who want to pass their farms on to their children.”
There was much more, including necessary reforms in Social Security and
Medicare, but the flat tax was key.
Democrats, especially, have benefited politically from the graduated income tax. Though roughly half the country pays no Federal taxes, Democrats have repeatedly made political hay out of denouncing “the rich” and “big corporations” for not paying their “fair share.” The flat tax would put more money in the pockets of people who earn it, instead of sending greater amounts to the government.
I emailed Forbes requesting an update and he responded: “The flat tax is simple, comprehensible, and fair. The only deductions would be for yourself, your spouse, and your children. It would also be simple for businesses—deduct from revenue the actual costs of doing business such labor and materials; investments would also be instantly expensed. … With the flat tax, the country would blossom… and the politics would be less polluted (no more never ending lobbying for special interest tax breaks and credits).”
Forbes also spoke of its “moral dimension”: “The IRS has estimated that we spend over 6 billion hours a year filling out tax forms. Experts also calculate that we spend the equivalent of between $200-400 billion a year complying with this currently corrupt monstrosity.”
The Tax Code is a foreign language to many. As of 2018, it comprised 60 thousand pages in 54 volumes. According to The Tax Foundation, the U.S. ranks 21st out of 37 nations in tax simplicity. Estonia has been first for eight straight years. Maybe we could learn from them.
Look at states with no state taxes to see their prosperity. It is a major reason so many are moving from high tax states to those with lower, or no state taxes. Unfortunately, one cannot escape the long arm of the IRS.
A flat tax might help reduce the anger many people have about Washington and big spending politicians, but that would mean Democrat politicians could no longer have the issue and having the issue serves their political interests.
I’m Cal Thomas.
PAUL BUTLER, HOST: Tomorrow: being ready to give an answer. We’ll talk about it with John Stonestreet on Culture Friday.
And, Collin Garbarino reviews a new “man vs. nature film.” We’ll find out if it’s anything to roar about.
That and more tomorrow.
I’m Paul Butler.
MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown.
The World and Everything in It comes to you from WORLD Radio.
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