By Rep Phil Gingrey
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), by systematically targeting Tea Party groups, has betrayed the public's trust, violated the First Amendment, and raised a host of concerns about the integrity of executive agencies. This prompts several questions. Who was aware? When were they told? How far up the chain of command does blame lie?
We seem to learn something new--and even more outrageous-- every day. When applying for tax-exempt status, conservative groups were targeted for additional and unwarranted scrutiny. The organizations, singled out for containing the phrases "patriots" or "tea party," saw their applications delayed, were harassed with invasive questionnaires, and forced to submit piles of additional paperwork. In some cases, private information was shared with liberal groups. It appears more and more what many Americans have always feared--that the IRS wields its enormous power for political purposes in a thuggish attempt to shut people up.
This is the very agency tasked with "enforcing" Obamacare. And in a blatant demonstration of bureaucratic shuffling and Washington's culture of complacency, not a single person has yet to be fired. In fact, the IRS executive responsible for tax-exempt organizations from 2009 to 2012 is now heading up the IRS' Obamacare implementation division.
Obamacare and the IRS: Who is watching the watchers?
The President's health care law guts Medicare, increases health care costs, threatens access to Medicare and Medicaid patients, and imposes massive tax increases that Americans and small businesses can't afford. President Obama promised that his law would not raise taxes, would decrease health care costs, and that if we liked our plans, we could keep them. These promises have been broken, and Obamacare accomplishes the exact opposite of what the president pledged.
Its implementation has been disastrous thus far -- deadlines haven't been met, rules remain unclear, and uncertainty is killing small business owners. On top of the recent Inspector General report that uncovered Tea Party targeting, a newly surfaced Government Accountability Office study shows vast shortcomings in efficiency, hundreds of millions in lost funds, and mismanagement across the IRS as a whole. Given this perfect storm of institutional fumbles, how can we trust that the IRS with our health care information?
As Obamacare "enforcers," this new IRS division will be responsible for 47 new tasks, requiring as many as 16,500 new employees to the tune of $10 billion, and more than 40 million yearly health care related hours. Obamacare gives the IRS unprecedented access to private health care information.
According to American's for Tax Reform, taxpayers will be required to provide the following to the IRS: the name and health insurance identification number of the taxpayer; the name and tax identification number of the health insurance company; the number of months the taxpayer was covered by this insurance plan; and whether or not the plan was purchased in one of Obamacare's "exchanges."
It doesn't end there. The law also gives the IRS employees the authority to designate who receives to health tax credits and which fees certain companies will pay. One has to wonder whether the same "filters" used to determine tax-exempt status will be used to apply Obamacare rules and regulations. Likewise, will organizations whose views align with or who support the administration be rewarded? What guidelines will they follow to determine this and who will ensure bureaucrats adhere to them?
The Sebelius shake-down
For instance, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sebelius has been seeking donations from corporations and organizations to nonprofits helping to implement the law. Enroll America, for example, is headed by a former Obama campaign director and has been described as a "resurrected ACORN-like entity.'
House Republicans are demanding a "detailed list of questions, including how many federally funded hours were spent soliciting donations, who made the solicitations, how much money has been raised and spent by HHS, and what assurances were made that HHS wouldn't retaliate against companies that didn't donate."
Americans are beginning to understand how disastrous Obamacare will be for patients, taxpayers, and middle class families. In fact, one of Obamacare's chief architects has called the law's implementation "a huge train wreck." If the federal government takeover of one-sixth the economy wasn't enough, the IRS' politicization and targeting of Tea Party groups is an even bigger train wreck.
Last week, I sent a letter to President Obama demanding that he appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS and have started a petition calling for an audit of the agency. I also joined my colleagues in calling on Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to turn over all information and communications with IRS and administration officials to a congressional committee. I will not rest until those responsible for this egregious violation of Americans' trust is brought to justice, and I will continue fighting to repeal Obamacare at every turn.