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GOP Senator Mocked For Saying Joe Biden Wants To 'Close The Churches' With Infrastructure Bill

GOP Senator Mocked For Saying Joe Biden Wants To 'Close The Churches' With Infrastructure Bill
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Tennessee Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn made the odd claim that President Joe Biden wants to "close the churches" as soon as the Democrats pass their infrastructure bill.

The bill, one of two pieces of legislation (the other being a $3.5 trillion spending plan) seen as key to codifying the Democrats' economic and social policy agenda, has been the target of many Republican attacks since the summer.

Blackburn made the claim during an appearance on Fox News, which you can watch below.

Blackburn's claims evoked the specter of socialism, a favorite fear-mongering tactic among the far-right:

"We know that the "Build Back Better" agenda has become the Biden "Build Back Broke" agenda and the American people have figured out that what they [Democrats] are trying to do is instutionalize socialism."
"They're trying to do a takeover the country in one vote. They want government control of your kids. They want to look at your bank account for every transaction over $600."
"Anything you do on Venmo or PayPal, they want a part of that transaction. They want government control of healthcare."
"They want to demoralize the military, close the churches, destroy your faith in the American system, and then here they're going to come with a socialist program to run your life, from cradle to grave, from daylight to dark."

Where to start?

There is no evidence that the Democrats want to, as Blackburn puts it, "institutionalize socialism," "control" anyone's kids, or "demoralize" the military.

Blackburn's claim that the Democrats are overstepping on Americans' financial privacy is also misleading, having originated in a widely-shared September 10 story from the far-right conspiracy theory website InfoWars.

The story's headline reads "Biden's Treasury Dept. Declares IRS Will Monitor Transactions of ALL U.S. Accounts Over $600," but that claim is not accurate.

In May, the Treasury Department put forth a revenue proposal to introduce more comprehensive financial account reporting in a bid to "improve tax compliance."

The proposal remains just that: A proposal.

Should it be adopted, banks would not provide access to individual transactions, just information about an account's annual cashflow, and only if those accounts hold a value of at least $600, or if the total is at least $600 in a year.

Blackburn's assertion that churches would be closed down as soon as the bill is approved appears to have materialized out of thin air.

In fact, where the infrastructure bill does mention churches is quite positive.

The bill would provide $50 million in grants to nonprofits, including religious congregations, so they can upgrade their buildings with new energy-efficient heating and cooling systems.

Blackburn's remarks have been widely criticized for their absurdity.

The infrastructure bill's future continues to look rocky. However, Democrats aim to pass it (and their spending plan) by the end of October, when funding programs for major transportation are due to expire.

Both plans would constitute the largest expansion of the social safety net in decades and would allow the country, perhaps most importantly, to accelerate its climate policy amid warnings from scientists that the Earth has passed tipping points due to the impacts of anthropogenic climate change.