IRS scandal becomes Republican battering ram against Obamacare (+video)
Republican lawmakers say the scandal over Internal Revenue Service scrutiny of conservative groups raises new doubts about President Obama’s health-insurance reform law.
Now playing in a political theater near you: The IRS scandal meets Obamacare.Skip to next paragraph
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The reason is that the health-care law gives the IRS an important role in things like administering tax credits, verifying whether people are eligible for subsidies, and checking whether citizens have complied with a new mandate to carry insurance or pay a fine.
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“The power in our health-care system should belong to patients and their families, not politicians – and certainly not the tax man,” Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland said Saturday in the Republican Party’s weekly radio address. “Americans should be able to choose the coverage they need at a cost they can afford.”
This battle over Obamacare, officially known as the Affordable Care Act, is not new. House Republicans voted just this week to repeal it – their 37th such vote since its 2010 passage. Their criticisms have long included worries about an expansion of IRS power and overreach.
But the latest controversy about the IRS comes as the Obama administration is in a difficult home stretch of implementing the health law’s biggest elements – notably ensuring that health insurance “exchanges” exist in each state for Americans to use in sign-ups that begin later this year.
Even Democrats acknowledge that the administrative task is daunting. Republicans are painting the implementation as a tangle of bureaucracy that’s impeding job creation.
Congressman Harris introduced his brief address by saying that he was standing next to “Red Tape Tower,” some 20,000 pages of regulations tied to Obamacare. Then he brought up the role the IRS will play in implementation and enforcement of the act’s provisions.
“If we’ve learned anything this week, it’s that the IRS needs less power, not more,” said Harris. He added: “It turns out that the IRS official who oversaw the operation that’s under scrutiny for targeting conservatives is now in charge of the IRS’s Obamacare office. You can’t make this stuff up.”