No, Cheri Beasley Does Not Want to Raise Taxes on the Middle Class

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cheri Beasley speaks during a campaign appearance in Durham, N.C., on Monday, Aug. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Hannah Schoenbaum)

By Michael McElroy

October 21, 2022

An ad by conservative backers of Ted Budd misrepresents Beasley’s position and gives a misleading take on the Inflation Reduction Act.

The season of misleading political ads is in full bloom. 

An ad by conservative groups says that Cheri Beasley, the Democratic nominee for North Carolina’s open US Senate Seat, wants to raise taxes on middle class families, and will “knock on your door with an army of new IRS agents.” 

While both claims are boilerplate talking points, neither is true.

The premise of the ad is based entirely on a misrepresentation of the Inflation Reduction Act, a landmark bill that passed with zero Republican votes this summer. Beasley did not vote for the bill, of course, because she was not in Congress, though she has said she would have voted for it, and has voiced support for its aims.

But Beasley has said zero times that she wants to raise taxes on the middle class. 

Who WILL the Inflation Reduction Act raise taxes on? Large corporations that make at least $1 billion a year in profit.

Some conservatives argue that this tax increase will cause these large corporations to cut jobs, but again, the law does not change the amount of profit those corporations make. It increases the taxes on those profits. 

So if a corporation would lay people off rather than cut marginally into their profits, that’s on them not the law.

The ad also says that Beasley wants to raise taxes on families making less than $75,000 a year, and cites as one its sources a report from the Joint Committee on Taxation, a nonpartisan group of “economists, attorneys, and accountants” who assist members of Congress considering tax legislation.

But the report, written before the IRA was passed, showed something quite different. 

Federal income taxes would go up slightly for most income levels from 2027 through 2029. But  the bill that Beasley backed would also reduce them for everyone making less than $200,000 in both the years before and after this three year period.

So the bill would produce a small island of marginal tax increases in the middle of a sea of tax reduction for the middle class.

And even the tax increases for wealthy individuals and large corporations would be offset by the main provisions of the bill, tax incentives for investments in clean technology and more energy efficient homes. One of the main points of the Inflation Reduction Act, after all, is to combat climate change and fund clean energy investments.

Climate change is expected to have drastic impacts in North Carolina, increasing the frequency and severity of storms and hurricanes, creating more wildfires, and upending the state’s #1 industry, agriculture.

The ad also cites a tweet by Beasley, from Aug. 7, criticizing Republicans for voting against the IRA, but that tweet says nothing about raising taxes on the middle class. 

But Beasley tweeted several times that day in support of other provisions in the IRA that would drastically decrease healthcare costs for all income levels, namely a bill to cap insulin costs for Medicare recipients. 

Budd and nearly all Republicans voted against the insulin cap.

“Many folks living with diabetes are forced to skip insulin doses because it’s too expensive.

North Carolina senators & my opponent owe them an explanation why they voted against capping costs,” Beasley tweeted.

And in another the same day, “In the Senate, I’ll always fight to lower costs & make health care more affordable.”

Subhead: What about the IRS army?

The IRS army claim is not just misleading, it’s demonstrably false. 

The IRA does include $80 billion over the next decade for the IRS, but most of that money will go toward clearing a pandemic-caused backlog in processing federal tax returns. 

The IRS is understaffed after nearly three years of COVID effects and the Trump administration’s budget cuts, and the resulting backlog has caused real problems for families who depend on their returns to pay their bills.

Though Republicans have misrepresented the bill’s provisions, they have also expressed concerns about the very problems the bill will help address.

Around the same time President Biden signed the IRA, a bipartisan group of nearly 100 lawmakers from the US Senate and House of Representatives sent a letter to IRS leaders demanding better progress, Bloomberg reported. 

“The IRS must take additional steps to improve customer service issues, decrease processing delays, and work down the backlog of paper returns and correspondence by continuing the maximum use of overtime and surge teams,” the letter said.

With this new piece of legislation, the IRS will now be able to respond. 

“And despite claims on social media that the I.R.S. hires will be heavily armed,” The New York Times wrote in its assessment of the bill, “a Treasury official said that just 1 percent of the new employees would be agents working in jobs that require carrying guns.”


  • Michael McElroy

    Michael McElroy is Cardinal & Pine's political correspondent. He is an adjunct instructor at UNC-Chapel Hill's Hussman School of Journalism and Media, and a former editor at The New York Times.

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