Congressman Matt Cartwright has a history of tax delinquency. That isn't stopping the Pennsylvania Democrat from backing a plan that would sic an army of nearly 90,000 new IRS agents on the American people.
Cartwright last year owed $436.63 in penalties and interest that stemmed from late property tax payments on his Washington, D.C., condo, the Washington Free Beacon reported last week. The incident was not his first tax-related mishap—from 2013 to 2018, the Democrat racked up thousands of dollars in penalties and interest related to his tax delinquencies. Still, Cartwright on Monday announced his support for the Inflation Reduction Act, Democrats' $430 billion spending bill that does little to fight inflation and gives the IRS $80 billion to hire up to 87,000 additional employees.
Cartwright's history of tax delinquency and subsequent support for the bill could haunt the congressman as he faces a difficult reelection bid against GOP challenger Jim Bognet. Cartwright trails the Republican by 1 point with 9 percent of voters undecided, internal polling obtained by the Free Beacon shows.
Cartwright will also have to overcome Joe Biden's historic unpopularity, which has even extended to the president's hometown of Scranton. In Cartwright's eighth district, which includes Scranton, just 38 percent of voters approve of Biden, compared with 60 percent who disapprove, the Free Beacon revealed Wednesday. Despite Biden's hometown woes, Cartwright is standing by the president—unlike some of his House Democratic colleagues, the congressman has publicly backed Biden to run for reelection in 2024. Cartwright was also a staunch Biden supporter during the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, having said in 2019 that he was "honored" to endorse his "friend, northeastern PA hometown boy, Joe Biden for president."
Cartwright did not return a request for comment. His Monday statement voicing support for Democrats' latest spending bill did not include a comment on its IRS-related provisions. Should that bill pass the House, the IRS will receive $80 billion to hire as many as 87,000 additional employees. The hiring spree would more than double the size of the agency's workforce, making the IRS larger than the Pentagon, State Department, FBI, and Border Patrol combined, the Free Beacon reported. Bognet has railed against the proposal, arguing that the Inflation Reduction Act should instead be called the "Audit America Act."
"With that many new IRS agents, every small business can expect to be audited," Bognet said Monday. "We must stop this spending spree, and we must stop this auditing spree."
Beyond the Cartwright-backed bill's proposed IRS expansion, even liberal economists don't believe the $430 billion Inflation Reduction Act will reduce inflation. Moody's Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi, whom Biden himself routinely cites, said in a new report that the legislation will cause no change in inflation until the third quarter of 2023, when Americans can expect to enjoy a .01 percent decrease.
Cartwright is nevertheless touting the bill as a win for Democrats. In his Monday statement, he called the bill "landmark legislation" that "the American people have been waiting for."
Cartwright's race against Bognet is not his first. The Democrat narrowly defeated Bognet by roughly 3 points in 2020, a result that marked the tightest reelection bid of his career. Bognet has thus far raised $1.2 million to Cartwright's $3.5 million.