Thursday Edition

The IRS is auditing the middle class. Plus: The COVID gravy train has finally run out.


1. Bureaucrats Have Made Healthcare/Education Worse

Ever notice how as the number of administrators in healthcare and education exploded, both sectors got worse? (How To Subvert Subversion)

"Yuri Bezmenov,” the pen name of a millennial writer, connects the dots in a new blog post (which is a fun read and worth your time).

Healthcare: Between 1975 and 2010, the number of physicians in the U.S. grew by only 150%, while the number of healthcare administrators increased by a staggering 3,200%.

  • Over roughly the same time period, the U.S. has fallen behind other developed countries when it comes to healthcare outcomes.

We spend more, but die sooner.

Education: Non-teacher faculty hiring and costs have exploded while enrollment and test scores have stayed relatively the same or declined.

Bubba’s Two Cents: Here's the bottom line — the job of these administrators is to improve America's healthcare and education systems. They've been given resources and staff but are still producing poor results. For anyone wondering why no one trusts institutions these days, the bloated bureaucracy is a good place to start.

2. New IRS Looks Just Like the Old IRS

The IRS hasn’t made its promised shift toward targeting wealthy Americans with the new funding it received courtesy of President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act. (John Hasson)

Then: In 2022, Republicans accused the IRS of wanting to hire more agents to go after the middle class.

  • The IRS said the expected $80 billion in IRA funds would be used to crack down on “wealthy tax evaders” and wouldn’t lead to more audits for middle-income Americans.


Now: A recent Wall Street Journal analysis found 63% of new IRS audits in 2023 targeted middle-class filers with incomes less than $200,000. 

The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board: “For all that new money, Congress is so far getting the same old agency.”

3. The Gravy Train’s Running Out

America has kicked the can down the road financially in a variety of ways, but the runway looks to be coming to an end.

COVID-19 excess savings: Americans have now spent the $2.1 trillion they stored away during the pandemic, according to a new San Francisco Federal Reserve analysis.

Social Security: Funds for the program are set to run out in 2035, according to the Social Security Administration’s latest annual report (the slightly good news is that’s one year later than previously estimated).

Individual debt: Americans’ household ($17.3 trillion) and credit card ($1.1 trillion) debt reached record highs at the start of the year.

All of this is happening while the national debt sits at 96% of GDP and is projected to reach 166% over the next 30 years.

Bubba’s Two Cents: The bottom line is the check is going to come due some day. So sometime between now and when these programs literally run out of money in the next decade, there needs to be a wake up call.

4. America’s Tuning Out the News

Not that many people actually follow the news. (Pew Research Center)

Chart: Pew Research Center

A new Pew Research Center poll:

  • The share of Americans closely following national news dropped by 11% since 2016, from 33% to 22%.

  • The percentage following locals news closely fell from 37% to 22%.

A recent PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll:

  • A majority (55%) of Americans are not closely following Donald Trump’s hush money trial.

A recent NBC News poll found that President Biden has a big advantage when it comes to news junkies, whereas Trump does better with people who don’t follow politics.

  • 53% of people who don’t follow political news back Trump, compared to only 27% for Biden.

Bubba’s Two Cents: I think this can partly be explained by the public’s exhaustion over eight years of Trump media drama and a lack of enthusiasm for a presidential rematch between two old guys. But it’s also interesting to think about the stark contrast between the modern media environment (which moves at a breathless, minute-to-minute, tweet-by-tweet pace) and the majority of voters who are just poking their heads in to the news every now and again (maybe every few weeks or months). It helps to explain why there’s a massive disconnect between your average journalist and the rest of America.

5. Let’s Stop Pretending Cops Don’t Stop Crime

Shocker: violent crime is down across the country and policing is up. (AH Datalytics)

Murders are down 19% in 2024, per an analysis by New York Times contributor Steven Rattner.

The number of full-time police officers has ticked up again after falling steeply in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.

  • Plus, cities across the U.S. have responded to a post-COVID, post-BLM crime surge by getting tougher on crime.

It’s become pretty popular in some circles (progressives, New York Times reporters, criminal justice reform advocates) to claim cops don’t stop crime.

This tweet from Lebanese diplomat Mohamad Safa racked up 123,000 likes on X/Twitter last year:

But even cop-skeptical news outlets like NPR and Vox have reported on the studies showing that, actually, law enforcement is key to reducing violence.

  • A 2020 National Bureau of Economic Research study found that each additional police officer prevents about 0.1 homicides, and the impact is doubled for black victims.

  • One 2005 study found crime was significantly reduced during “terror alert” periods when more officers were out on the street.

  • University researchers found reduced police presence after the COVID-19 pandemic and George Floyd's death was linked to higher property and violent crime rates.

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