Are the Obamacare-IRS Scandal Links Growing Deeper?
Many Republican lawmakers see the Affordable Healthcare as symbolic of all things wrong with the Obama presidency. Since the legislation was enacted in March of 2013, it has been seen as controversial by the majority of conservative circles, and Republican legislatures have tried 37 times, at last count, to repeal Obamacare using series of legislative gimmicks. Top leaders in the GOP have made it clear that the healthcare reform will be a central focus of the midterm elections, and the Internal Revenue Service scandal has galvanized the opposition.
The Republican-led House of Representatives launched its 37th attempt on Thursday, and the bill to repeal Obamacare passed by a margin of 229 to 195. The scandal involving the IRS has not only added fuel to the political fire over the controversial law, but gave the Republican lawmakers another platform from which to criticize the Affordable Healthcare Act. News that the tax agency singled out conservative groups for special examination when they applied for tax-exempt status during the 2012 election cycle has many Republican legislators asking how the agency can be trusted to administer Obamacare.
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 checking whether millions of Americans are in compliance the law’s health coverage requirement. It will also track individuals’ private health information in order to distribute tax credits to eligible individuals who purchase coverage under a qualified plan through one of the exchanges. In total, there are 47 different Obamacare provisions that require involvement from the IRS.
A new revelation has only strengthened Republicans’ resolve to roll back Obamacare. Sarah Hall Ingram, who now heads the IRS office responsible for implementing the healthcare legislation, served as commissioner of the tax-exemption division between 2009 and 2012. Her successor, Joseph Grant, served as deputy commissioner during part of the time period when the improprieties occurred, and he took the fall for the misdeeds despite being appointed commissioner on May 8. He became the second IRS official this week to announce his resignation.
“I’m deeply concerned with the ability of the agency and the resolve of this agency to lawfully manage this significant undertaking with discretion and with accountability,” Republican Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania said on the House floor Thursday, according to CNN. However, Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, head of the Democrats’ Steering and Policy Committee, said Wednesday that even though the agency’s actions were “outrageous,” it should not be a barrier to installing the central elements of Obamacare. “People agree on an investigation … but that shouldn’t get in the way [of implementation],” DeLauro said at a press briefing in the Capitol. “We can walk and chew gum at the same time.”
Still, Republicans are looking to pass additional legislation to prevent the implementation of Obamacare. Representative Randy Forbes (R-Va.) introduced a measure on Wednesday, officially known as the Prevent IRS Overreach Act, which if passed, would ban the tax collection agency from hiring anyone to implement Obamacare’s provisions.
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