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Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, we now know, the IRS targeting scandal implicates senior officials at the very highest levels of the Internal Revenue Service. Indeed, we know the Office of the Chief Counsel of the IRS, headed by an administration appointee, was aware of the abuses, according to sworn testimony in the House of Representatives. We know that former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman categorically denied those abuses in March of 2012, even though senior IRS officials learned about them as early as June 2011. We know the IRS official who first revealed the abuses to the American people decided to take the Fifth Amendment, invoking her right not to incriminate herself, rather than testify before Congress. Finally, we know IRS officials improperly targeted not only conservative organizations but also political candidates and donors.
Still, yesterday the White House Press Secretary called the various scandals involving this administration phony scandals. Well, I don't know anyone who actually believes that is true. When an institution such as the Internal Revenue Service, with its power to literally tax and destroy, is abusing that power, it deserves the investigation of Congress and we need to get to the bottom of it. The idea, as initially floated out, that this scandal was the work of a few rogue staffers in the Cincinnati office is no longer plausible, even if it was at one point.
This scandal clearly represents a serious breach of the public trust and has created a major credibility problem for this agency that is supposed to be objective and nonpartisan. It is bad enough that America's tax collection authority has behaved like a thuggish political machine, indeed, policing political speech and rights guaranteed under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
To make matters worse, the Internal Revenue Service will soon be responsible for administering some of the most important provisions of the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as ObamaCare, including the individual mandate. In other words, the Internal Revenue Service will be responsible for administering a law that affects one-sixth of the U.S. economy, and it will be collecting even more information about individual American citizens.
Are we comfortable with dramatically expanding the power of an agency that has proven so abusive and so untrustworthy? I know I am not, which is why 2 months ago I introduced a piece of legislation that would prevent the Internal Revenue Service from participating in its current role of implementing ObamaCare. Yesterday I submitted this legislation as an amendment to the appropriations bill we are currently considering.
Rather than give more power to the Internal Revenue Service, we should be giving more power to patients and their doctors. Remember, even before ObamaCare became law, the IRS had enough power to destroy the lives of American citizens. In the famous words, I believe, of a Supreme Court Justice, the power to tax is the power to destroy. He had it right. Now is the worst possible time to give this agency such massive influence over the U.S. health care system, and this is past overdue action on our part. Instead, we should be curtailing the power of the Internal Revenue Service, replacing ObamaCare with sensible, patient-centered alternatives, and my amendment would do that.
Before I conclude, I wish to mention another amendment we will be filing to the appropriations bill--one I cosponsored with my friend from South Carolina Senator Graham. Our amendment would prevent any funds in this bill from being used to bail out Detroit or any American city that mismanages its public finances. We have a Federal bankruptcy code--chapter 9, specifically--that was designed to handle these problems, and Detroit has filed for bankruptcy.
There is no good reason why Detroit or any other American city ought to receive a taxpayer-funded bailout from Washington. I hope that the normal bankruptcy process will be allowed to go forward, and I hope that the bankruptcy follows the rule of law and that the Obama administration resists any temptation to meddle in the process and play politics.
My colleagues might recall that during the 2009 government-run Chrysler bankruptcy process, the company's secured bondholders received much less for their loans than the United Auto Workers pension funds. My colleagues might also recall that during the runup to the 2011 Solyndra bankruptcy, the Obama administration actually made taxpayers subordinate to private lenders, in violation of the law.
Detroit's financial woes offer a warning to all cities and States that are struggling with pension obligations and unfunded liabilities. And speaking of unfunded liabilities, the Federal Government currently owes more than $100 trillion worth of unfunded liabilities ourselves for Medicare and Social Security--something that urgently needs our attention. It is time for government officials at all levels--State, Federal, and local--to make the hard fiscal choices we have been postponing for way too long.
I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
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