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PHILLIPS: The IRS as your M.D.
The agency that harasses political opponents is set to supervise health care
Question of the Day
Over the past week, details have emerged on how the Internal Revenue Service subjected certain groups to undue scrutiny in a systematic manner over an extended period of time. It is deeply concerning that the same IRS that just admitted to the political profiling of Americans who oppose a big-government agenda is also tasked with enforcing the myriad mandates, taxes and regulations in Obamacare.
Americans have entrusted the IRS with a tremendous amount of power, and that power has been systematically abused over the course of months and years. While this fact is chilling enough for many of us, it's actually about to get much worse.
With the House poised to once again to vote to repeal the disastrous Obamacare law on Thursday, it's worthwhile to note that President Obama has approved giving this entity billions more in funding and thousands of new employees to take on even more extraordinary authority — enforcing Obamacare, overseeing the health care decisions of all Americans and, what's more, handling the private health insurance information that belongs to you and your family.
Do we really want the IRS policing our health care?
Based on conduct over the past few years, the agency already is helping to promote a big-government agenda by making extraordinarily invasive requests for information from particular small-government groups, and not treating left-leaning groups the same.
The momentum for repealing Obamacare ought to mount beginning with Thursday's vote, as the IRS issue is just one of a million reasons to get rid of this law. It's not just the IRS scandal that has cast doubt over the implementation of Obamacare. A scandal you may not have heard much about is that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has been seeking more funds from private health care organizations to help drag the implementation of the law over the finish line. It's a task she and other bureaucrats have been struggling mightily with, as exhaustively predicted by conservatives before this law was ever passed.
The mayhem began with Health and Human Services' very first task as outlined in the law — simply to produce and release a list of the department's new powers and responsibilities. Apparently, this was such an insurmountable task that they had to settle for meagerly reproducing the table of contents from the bill.
Since then, there has been little else but more bad news: The feds were forced to dump a major provision with the repeal of the Class Act, a long-term insurance scheme that would become insolvent so quickly that huge majorities voted to get rid of it. Sen. Max Baucus, one of the primary authors of the law, has declared its implementation a potential "train wreck." Even some unions who supported the bill are now looking for an escape hatch, while the state-level health care exchanges are on track to be wildly over budget, and many employers have been forced to cut shifts for hourly workers to avoid the employee coverage mandates. Moreover, premiums are set to pop up by double digits in states all over the country.
At the head of this beast — if it manages not to collapse under its own bureaucratic weight — would be a disgraced organization that has already gotten the creation of burdensome red tape down to a science. Now it will be entrusted with our sensitive medical information. The IRS will be there enforcing the employer insurance mandate, the individual mandate, and 45 other provisions of the law. Those include everything from determining which small businesses are eligible for tax credits to levying fees on prescription-drug manufacturers to collecting unearned-income taxes for Medicare to enforcing a tanning-bed tax.
The current IRS scandal, possibly still in its infancy, is already useful as a cautionary tale about what happens when government control increases. That power often leads to corruption. Just as every new grant or benefit the government creates opens up a new opportunity for fraud and cronyism, every new task handed to these acronym agencies can be mismanaged or used for abusive ends. We must be ever mindful not to let these agencies accumulate more power than they absolutely need.
The IRS is one of many organizations that already have tremendous power within the federal government. We should not add M.D. to their names, too. It's time for Congress to repeal the law and get the IRS out of health care.
Tim Phillips is president of Americans for Prosperity.
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