ABC: IRS scandal opens new front on ObamaCare

posted at 12:41 pm on May 29, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

It certainly does, and not without good reason. Politically speaking, the need to put the IRS in an enforcement position for ObamaCare was already a weakness for Democrats; few people enjoy working with the IRS, and that was before the organization targeted applicants and filers on the basis of their politics.  ABC News notes that the expanding IRS scandal gives Republicans a new and potent argument for rethinking the entire mess:

Conservative groups are preparing to use the deepening public distrust of the Internal Revenue Service to discredit the Affordable Care Act, and the Democrats who support it, in the 2014 election cycle.

Now that the IRS has admitted to unfairly targeting conservative groupsseeking tax-exempt status, Republicans plan to make the agency, which is responsible for carrying out much of President Obama’s health care law, the poster child for dysfunctional government, and a giant liability for Democrats. …

Democrats are effectively caught between a rock and a hard place. They had no choice but to swiftly condemn the IRS for inappropriately targeting conservative groups, but in doing so, they may have helped Republicans open the door to a second front of attack on the IRS.

Republicans hope that the deeply unpopular agency will become an albatross around the necks of Democratic candidates, especially those in more conservative districts.

“There is no better boogeyman in politics than the IRS,” said one Republican strategist. “So the fact that you can put the IRS on a piece of literature or you can talk about them in a television ad, that’s a good thing for us.”

Part of the problem for Democrats is that there is no way to put distance between the IRS and their signature March 2010 legislation — which is, perhaps not coincidentally, about the same time the IRS started targeting opponents of ObamaCare.  Not only will the IRS have to collect more than a dozen new taxes and enforce the individual mandate, but there are dozens of other elements which the IRS must run as well.  Wall Street Cheat Sheet’s Meghan Foley found 47 different provisions over which the IRS has jurisdiction:

Aside from the Department of Health and Human Services, the IRS is the most important government agency responsible for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act — it is charged with overseeing the law’s required purchase of health coverage as it will check whether millions of Americans are in compliance. It will also track individuals’ private health information in order to distribute tax credits to eligible individuals who purchase coverage under a qualified health plan through one of the exchanges. In total, there are 47 different Obamacare provisions that require involvement from the IRS.

More specifically, the Affordable Care Act requires that employers tell the IRS which of its workers have insurance, and companies with at least 50 full-time employees must indicate whether they offer “minimum essential coverage” under ACA standards. At the end of the year, insurers must provide the tax agency and policyholders a form verifying coverage status, and individuals must include those forms with their federal tax return. The IRS must also determine who is eligible for federal subsidies — which will help millions of people pay for insurance — and who qualifies for Medicaid. Finally, the IRS must asses who owes a penalty for individuals not purchasing insurance or required companies not providing coverage.

Forty-seven provisions provide the tax agency will plenty of ways to exercise bias, if they’re so inclined.  And as we have discovered over the last couple of weeks, they have been so inclined.  If Republicans can’t force Democrats to repeal ObamaCare and unwind the IRS out of their health-care decisions, they can certainly force Democrats to defend the law that puts the IRS in that position.  After this scandal, that makes a pretty powerful argument for voting with the GOP in the 2014 midterms.

That’s not the only area in which the IRS should have its reach curtailed.  In my column for The Week, I argue that campaign-finance reform has driven political speech into areas in which it never belonged and gave bureaucrats the ability to corrupt the political process.  The best way to fix that is to dump our campaign-finance system and replace it with full transparency instead:

With a blizzard of regulations that channels money into ridiculous and artificial categories and where candidates can take $35,000 donations at a time if they share it with political parties who will spend all of it on the candidate anyway, donors began looking long ago for ways to fund their political point of view. The money started going to tax-exempt organizations that put on pretenses of apoliticism or to PACs and then super PACS that ran their own political campaigns in parallel to the candidates and the parties. That puts the IRS squarely in position to impact politics in the U.S., and it’s not exactly a surprise to see an organization act to protect itself against those organizations that want it seriously reduced or eliminated. It’s blatantly corrupt and egregious, but not surprising.

None of this took money out of politics, either. All it accomplished was to remove accountability from parties and candidates in how it gets used, and reduces even further the transparency of its origins and uses in the political process. It also produced an uglier brand of politics, thanks to the arms-length relationship between candidates and these organizations.

With high-speed internet access nearly ubiquitous, the entire campaign-reform structure should be thrown out, along with tax exemptions for donations to political candidates, campaigns, PACS of all stripes, and political organizations. Instead, people should feel free to donate as much of their cash as they like to candidates and parties, who would then be required to publicly list all donations within 48 hours of receipt on their official websites. When people can channel their cash in such a manner, they won’t bother pushing it through the circuitous routes that keep multiplying in each election cycle. That will make candidates and parties responsible and accountable for the campaigns that take place, and might actually improve the tenor and ethics displayed in elections.

The only way to ensure that the IRS doesn’t interfere with elections in the future is to take them out of the loop entirely. They never should have been allowed to interfere with political activity in the first place, and hopefully both sides will see the wisdom of closing that door as soon as possible.

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The IRS, like charlatanic Mafiosos in your face, is hiring right now, to enforce Obama’care’.

Welcome to AmeriKa, or the USSA.

Schadenfreude on May 29, 2013 at 12:42 PM

Obama killed the last shred of decency and moral authority in the USA.

The land is somewhere btw. the former USSR and the current Russia.

Schadenfreude on May 29, 2013 at 12:43 PM

What we need is a massive march on Washington the likes of which this country has never seen. We either stand up now and save this country or we roll over and get steamrolled and relinquish America to the National Socialists. What a slap in the face to our WW2 veterans who fought and died to keep this from happening on their watch.

HotAirian on May 29, 2013 at 12:47 PM

i have to disagree. if your going to have Obamacare the only agency we have to run it is IRS or SS which links to the IRS anyway

gerrym51 on May 29, 2013 at 12:49 PM

2014 should be a rousing good time.

I look forward to the stumbling, bumbling politicos of any stripe who try and defend BarkyCare and its IRS enforcers.

Bishop on May 29, 2013 at 12:49 PM

What the land needs now is an amnesty bill which is already bigger than the Obama’care’ one.

Let it burn!

Schadenfreude on May 29, 2013 at 12:50 PM

Really not a lot of Republicans calling for a reform of IRS because they are hoping to do the same when they are back in the White House…

albill on May 29, 2013 at 12:51 PM

Don’t forget the 16,000 new SS IRS agents required under ObamaCare

faraway on May 29, 2013 at 12:51 PM

Look, how the IRS wastes your hard earned money.

Schadenfreude on May 29, 2013 at 12:52 PM

The only way to ensure that the IRS doesn’t interfere with elections in the future is to take them out of the loop entirely. They never should have been allowed to interfere with political activity in the first place, and hopefully both sides will see the wisdom of closing that door as soon as possible.

Allowing the IRS to interfere with political activity was the whole point. No one with power or influence over the IRS will want to take the IRS out of the loop. That’s just the way it is.

Curtiss on May 29, 2013 at 12:53 PM

That article is so full of media bias and slanted reporting that I quit after the first few paragraphs. Puke.

petefrt on May 29, 2013 at 12:55 PM

2014 should be a rousing good time.

I look forward to the stumbling, bumbling politicos of any stripe who try and defend BarkyCare and its IRS enforcers.

Bishop on May 29, 2013 at 12:49 PM

Most of the R’s leadership will film a campaign spot singing “God Bless America” with an “Affordable Care Act” banner behind them. They’ll do the same with immigration, except they’ll sing “God Bless America” in Spanish.

oldroy on May 29, 2013 at 12:56 PM

OT, but it’s all of the same topic any more.

Schadenfreude on May 29, 2013 at 12:57 PM

Really not a lot of Republicans calling for a reform of IRS because they are hoping to do the same when they are back in the White House…

albill on May 29, 2013 at 12:51 PM

Of course. The Pubs are either afraid or in bed with Obama and other Dems. The only option is full-out repeal, including ALL regulations and anything attached to Obamacare.

Then, make moves to allow the free market in the industry to have greater sway than government regulation. Prices will come down when there is greater competition, and government doesn’t say what minimums must be provided under a policy.

There’s also a study, the headline of which i only read, is that the minimum plans end up costing the buyer more over the long run.

If I had to buy a plan, I’d want to start to from scratch to pick and chose my personal options. If I can shop for what kind of pasta brand I prefer, why can’t I do the same for my health insurance?

Liam on May 29, 2013 at 12:57 PM

Finally, the IRS must asses who owes a penalty for individuals not purchasing insurance or required companies not providing coverage.

Ed, spell check sometimes has a mind of its own.

meci on May 29, 2013 at 12:58 PM

“I refuse to answer on the grounds that I cannot come up with a plausible alternative to the truth.”
…Lois Lerner

jaydee_007 on May 29, 2013 at 12:59 PM

Note how the article makes the whole issue nothing but a political weapon picked up by Republicans.

Those dastardly Rethuglicans! They want to protect Americans from IRS abuse!

PattyJ on May 29, 2013 at 1:00 PM

A flat tax and abolition of Obamacare could reduce the IRS manpower numbers by 80%…

Khun Joe on May 29, 2013 at 1:00 PM

Take it the rest of the way. Tax reform which completly eliminates the need for the IRS.

a capella on May 29, 2013 at 1:00 PM

What the land needs now is an amnesty bill which is already bigger than the Obama’care’ one.

Let it burn!

Schadenfreude on May 29, 2013 at 12:50 PM

That’s right. What we need is a couple of new, vast bureaucracies and the expansion of existing bureaucracies all with more unfettered power. That’ll set the world straight.

Curtiss on May 29, 2013 at 1:01 PM

Shut. It. Down.

Chris of Rights on May 29, 2013 at 1:02 PM

It will also track individuals’ private health information

Oh that’s going to end so well. Orwellian.

rbj on May 29, 2013 at 1:02 PM

The land of the disabled, especially mentally.

Schadenfreude on May 29, 2013 at 1:06 PM

Looks like Gov. Jan Brewer has pulled a Rubio on Obamacare…
http://minx.cc/?post=340424

Nosmo on May 29, 2013 at 1:07 PM

‘splain again, why hasn’t anyone in the GOP proposed tax reform that entirely removes the IRS as an entity, simplifies the tax code, makes it abjectly apolitical, enables a 5-minute filing process using something like a post-card, etc?

Hello, McGOP – anyone home?

Midas on May 29, 2013 at 1:09 PM

Really not a lot of Republicans calling for a reform of IRS because they are hoping to do the same when they are back in the White House…

albill on May 29, 2013 at 12:51 PM

Not really a good idea since well over 70% of IRS employees’ political contributions go to Democrats. The simple fact is the federal bureauracy is so loaded with liberals that it will always work against any Republican administration.

bw222 on May 29, 2013 at 1:10 PM

At the end of the year, insurers must provide the tax agency and policyholders a form verifying coverage status, and individuals must include those forms with their federal tax return.

So every tax payer in the United States will submit an additional piece of paper to the IRS with their tax return. That’s hundreds of millions of pieces of paper or digital files.

I’m seeing a new black market for fake insurance verification forms.

Curtiss on May 29, 2013 at 1:12 PM

Ft. Wayne Schools cutting back employees hours to avoid ObamaCare:

http://insurancenewsnet.com/Other-Articles/1179633/Stutzman-on-Fort-Wayne-School-Cutbacks-Caused-by-Obamacare-This-Law-Must-be-Repealed

bw222 on May 29, 2013 at 1:13 PM

A flat tax and abolition of Obamacare could reduce the IRS manpower numbers by 80%…

Khun Joe on May 29, 2013 at 1:00 PM

…and even my crocodile tears are hard to muster when I think of the folks whose lives were utterly destroyed because of one “random” audit….

Turtle317 on May 29, 2013 at 1:16 PM

From the article:

“unfairly targeting conservative groups”

“inappropriately targeting conservative groups”

How about “Illegally targeting conservative groups?”

PersonFromPorlock on May 29, 2013 at 1:19 PM

Flat the tax, kill the IRS.

John the Libertarian on May 29, 2013 at 1:20 PM

it is essential to remove the IRS from overseeing Obamacare. The only reason they were assigned the task out of their norm was because they have no oversight–as we have seen.

Don L on May 29, 2013 at 1:20 PM

The Pappy Plan to restore fiscal sanity.

1. Seal the freaking border.
(Reduces crime, saves state and federal entitlements by the score, forces businesses to raise wages, empowers legal American voters, etc.)

2. 10% across the board Federal spending cuts.
(We’ve now built in $1 trillion in Obama spending every year thanks to the deceitful gimmicks of the Ruling class in D.C. so if the budget is $3.4 trillion this year…..cut it $340 billion. Then next year, cut it $310 billion, and keep cutting until we’re back to 2008 spending levels and see this economy SOAR.)

PappyD61 on May 29, 2013 at 1:21 PM

….and the cuts will defund ObamaCare and freebies out the wazoo for those that are just teaters on the Federal sow.

PappyD61 on May 29, 2013 at 1:22 PM

Really not a lot of Republicans calling for a reform of IRS because they are hoping to do the same when they are back in the White House…

albill on May 29, 2013 at 12:51 PM

Not really a good idea since well over 70% of IRS employees’ political contributions go to Democrats. The simple fact is the federal bureauracy is so loaded with liberals that it will always work against any Republican administration.

bw222 on May 29, 2013 at 1:10 PM

Who needs to worry about political contributions when you have the power to distribute and regulate over 1/6th more of the economy and all of people’s very lives? I suspect far more pieces of silver will pass into both parties hands.

“Positive death panels reviews for sale her…”

Don L on May 29, 2013 at 1:24 PM

I agree with all the author’s points, however, Obamacare is law. Unless they disband the IRS, I don’t see how anyone can stop them from administering Obamacare.

lea on May 29, 2013 at 1:24 PM

OT – Obama’s AmeriKa

Schadenfreude on May 29, 2013 at 1:25 PM

Unless they disband the IRS, I don’t see how anyone can stop them from administering Obamacare.

lea on May 29, 2013 at 1:24 PM

Non-compliance, far as possible, like follows the theory of jury nullification at trial.

Liam on May 29, 2013 at 1:26 PM

Ft. Wayne Schools cutting back employees hours to avoid ObamaCare:

My sis-in-law works for East Allen County Schools. Her hours haven’t been cut yet, but she is nervous about it.

fortcoins on May 29, 2013 at 1:26 PM

Millions more will be without insurance under ObamaCare. As long as the illegals and homeless get it, what difference does it make?

kirkill on May 29, 2013 at 1:31 PM

“I see here in my Obamakare terminal that you wrote a check to Karl Rove’s conservative lobbying group; I’m sorry, but we still have not been able to find a kidney matching your type. Have a good day!”

slickwillie2001 on May 29, 2013 at 1:33 PM

Really not a lot of Republicans calling for a reform of IRS because they are hoping to do the same when they are back in the White House…

albill on May 29, 2013 at 12:51 PM

Not really a good idea since well over 70% of IRS employees’ political contributions go to Democrats. The simple fact is the federal bureauracy is so loaded with liberals that it will always work against any Republican administration.

bw222 on May 29, 2013 at 1:10 PM

The greedy-union at the IRS that is now allowed in on management decisions is where the real hard-core lefties reside, and their political contributions would be around 98% democratic.

The greedy-union is a shadow management structure at the IRS that Congress must investigate just as thoroughly as the conventional management structure.

slickwillie2001 on May 29, 2013 at 1:36 PM

‘splain again, why hasn’t anyone in the GOP proposed tax reform that entirely removes the IRS as an entity, simplifies the tax code, makes it abjectly apolitical, enables a 5-minute filing process using something like a post-card, etc?

Hello, McGOP – anyone home?

Midas

Someone has, he is a republican. Go over to Thomas.gov and look up H.R. 25. There is a second bill, H.R. 1040 (ironic no?), much simpler which I favor.

Please keep up….

Dr. Dog on May 29, 2013 at 1:37 PM

What the land needs now is an amnesty bill which is already bigger than the Obama’care’ one.

Let it burn!

Schadenfreude on May 29, 2013 at 12:50 PM

…it’s over 1000 pages so far!….can’t you wait…to read “what’s in it”?…how many pages does it take too say “secure the border”?…..hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!

KOOLAID2 on May 29, 2013 at 1:38 PM

Unless they disband the IRS, I don’t see how anyone can stop them from administering Obamacare.

lea on May 29, 2013 at 1:24 PM

Just defund it until the enforcement provisions change. Why should those worthless rogue agents be paid anyway? Thanks but if you are going to take away my civil rights, I am not going to pay you to do it.

Happy Nomad on May 29, 2013 at 1:38 PM

“The Sebelius Snitchbrigade”

Schadenfreude on May 29, 2013 at 1:47 PM

Someone has, he is a republican. Go over to Thomas.gov and look up H.R. 25. There is a second bill, H.R. 1040 (ironic no?), much simpler which I favor.

Please keep up….

Dr. Dog on May 29, 2013 at 1:37 PM

Thanks.

And please shove your attitude up your ass. Thanks in advance.

Midas on May 29, 2013 at 1:50 PM

The whole tenor of the article is annoying. It seems to question the motives of those targeted and plans to remain skeptical of any and all evidence.

Cindy Munford on May 29, 2013 at 1:52 PM

Millions more will be without insurance under ObamaCare. As long as the illegals and homeless get it, what difference does it make?

kirkill on May 29, 2013 at 1:31 PM

…(I want to hear your voice…when you say that!)

KOOLAID2 on May 29, 2013 at 1:56 PM

I think ObamaCare should be treated as follows:

Drive a stake through its heart, then burn it, remove its head, stuff garlic in its mouth, burn it again for good measure, toss it into a particle accelerator and smash its atoms to bits.

Rinse and repeat.

I haven’t even gotten to what we need to do with the IRS yet….

Turtle317 on May 29, 2013 at 1:56 PM

OT – good one

Schadenfreude on May 29, 2013 at 2:03 PM

Related as heard on Morning Schmoe this morning. The wisdom of Mike Barnicle discussing the rollout of Obamacare next year:

“The problems with Obabamacare will make the front page when a person can’t find a doctor to treat them. It’ll never happen!”

Increase the “insured” by an estimated 40 million, without ramping up the infrastructure to get new doctors out in the field, which needed to start happening 10 years prior to a rollout. But, there will be no doctor shortages. Facepalm.

can_con on May 29, 2013 at 2:07 PM

The illegitimate 2nd term

Schadenfreude on May 29, 2013 at 2:11 PM

Suggestion for a GOP ad.
Man sitting across the desk from an IRS agent, obviously getting audited.

Agent: “Before we decide on this deduction, we need to know your voting record.”

Dissolve to a person sitting across from the same agent. Words on screen indicating IRS oversight of Obamacare

Agent: “Before we decide on this heart medication, we need to know your voting record.”

kurtzz3 on May 29, 2013 at 2:11 PM

Hot summer

Schadenfreude on May 29, 2013 at 2:12 PM

Really not a lot of Republicans calling for a reform of IRS because they are hoping to do the same when they are back in the White House…

albill on May 29, 2013 at 12:51 PM

Not really a good idea since well over 70% of IRS employees’ political contributions go to Democrats. The simple fact is the federal bureauracy is so loaded with liberals that it will always work against any Republican administration.

bw222 on May 29, 2013 at 1:10 PM

Supposedly, Nixon tried to use the IRS to target his opponents, without success.
However, both parties depend on the IRS to collect the taxes that fund their pork & policy (even if they disagree on the exact allocation of the money), so there is not ever going to be a Congressional move to eliminate the agency or the income tax.

AesopFan on May 29, 2013 at 2:16 PM

Arrogance of Obama’care’ hits home.

Schadenfreude on May 29, 2013 at 2:17 PM

Really not a lot of Republicans calling for a reform of IRS because they are hoping to do the same when they are back in the White House…

albill on May 29, 2013 at 12:51 PM

Won’t ever happen. Communists running IRS will immediately alert news media and scream about discrimination and thuggery. Can’t ever happen under GOP control.

riddick on May 29, 2013 at 2:31 PM

What we need is a massive march on Washington the likes of which this country has never seen. We either stand up now and save this country or we roll over and get steamrolled and relinquish America to the National Socialists. What a slap in the face to our WW2 veterans who fought and died to keep this from happening on their watch.

HotAirian on May 29, 2013 at 12:47 PM

Amen!

tomshup on May 29, 2013 at 3:47 PM

The IRS was always a powerful argument against ObamaKare, ABC has just now discovered that fact.

slickwillie2001 on May 29, 2013 at 4:38 PM

What we need is a massive march on Washington the likes of which this country has never seen. We either stand up now and save this country or we roll over and get steamrolled and relinquish America to the National Socialists. What a slap in the face to our WW2 veterans who fought and died to keep this from happening on their watch.

HotAirian on May 29, 2013 at 12:47 PM

Amen!

tomshup on May 29, 2013 at 3:47 PM

Careful now, let’s not give them a reason to shoot us down in the streets. You know many of them want a reason.

slickwillie2001 on May 29, 2013 at 4:40 PM

If the IRS is going to be enforcing health care law then that suggests another important enforcement role for the IRS to play: in immigration enforcement.

Let’s slap a stiff payroll tax on the wages of all non-e-verified employees and hire an additional 5000 IRS agents to audit it!

kd6rxl on May 29, 2013 at 6:38 PM

What we need is a massive march on Washington the likes of which this country has never seen. We either stand up now and save this country or we roll over and get steamrolled and relinquish America to the National Socialists. What a slap in the face to our WW2 veterans who fought and died to keep this from happening on their watch.

HotAirian on May 29, 2013 at 12:47 PM

Sorry, I used to think the same about the WWII vets as well. I’ll point out that a WHOLE bunch of them were ardent FDR supporters, were all in on the New Deal and more than a few were socialists (Obama’s grandfather, eg.). I would submit that what we really need is for the House to defund the IRS involvement in ObamaCare and stick to it, shutdowns be damned. That, unfortunately, would require a spine transplant.

DocinPA on May 29, 2013 at 10:03 PM