President Obama’s nationalization of health care is bad enough on its own, but the plan’s implementation will require drastic measures that are just as troubling to those who value freedom. Of particular concern is the bill’s expansion of the Internal Revenue Service.
A report released last week by House Ways and Means Committee Republicans estimated that the dreaded agency’s ranks would swell by 16,500. The newly sworn agents would be charged with ensuring the public’s obedience to Mr. Obama’s health care directives. The IRS also would enjoy the enhanced powers and budgetary authority required for monitoring the health care status of 300 million Americans on a month-to-month basis. The total cost of the effort is likely to exceed $10 billion.
The investigations will gradually ramp up until 2016, when the individual mandate tax kicks in fully. After that, if the O Force wins a second term, the unprecedented levy will fall upon citizens who fail to purchase health care coverage acceptable to Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. IRS agents would conduct the audits and impose a fine of either $2,085 or 2.5 percent of income - whichever is greater - on disobedient households. According to Congressional Budget Office figures, this tax will generate $17 billion by 2019.
Of course, not everyone will pay. The Democrats carved out exemptions for two of its favorite constituencies: illegal aliens and imprisoned criminals. Only law-abiding citizens will face the wrath of the IRS - a wrath that can be substantial.
Consider the case of Aaron Zeff, owner of Harv’s Metro Car Wash in Sacramento, Calif. Mr. Zeff paid his taxes on time and did everything he was supposed to do. Nonetheless, a team of IRS agents descended on his business earlier this month. “They were deadly serious, very aggressive, very condescending,” Mr. Zeff said in describing the incident to the Sacramento Bee. His crime? Mr. Zeff reportedly owed 4 cents on his taxes in 2006.
That’s the type of overzealous enforcement and lousy customer service we can look forward to as IRS agents are handed more power to terrorize law-abiding Americans. The president’s plan moves us in the wrong direction. We need to dismantle, not expand, the most hated agency of the federal government. Fundamental tax reform and repeal of Obamacare would go a long way toward restoring American freedoms.