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The IRS has been in the news a lot lately, but with all the hubbub of corruption and scandal, it’s easy to forget that they are also the agency in charge of enforcing and implementing the Affordable Care Act, colloquially known as ObamaCare. Here are the top ten reasons why the IRS should keep its hands off your healthcare choices.
1. The IRS is prone to political corruption Ever since the news broke that the IRS has been selectively targeting conservative organizations, the fiction of the organization’s non-partisanship has been exposed to the harsh light of day. We now know that the IRS can be, and is being, used as a political tool to advance a particular agenda and penalize those who dare dissent. It is troubling enough that this happened in the midst of a major presidential election, but in the case of health care, when lives are literally at stake, the potential for abuse is so great as to be positively chilling. ** 2. The IRS either can’t or won’t keep track of its own records** During the investigation of Lois Lerner, the IRS claimed to have lost emails belonging first to her, then to six of her colleagues and now to an unspecified number of people “less than 20.” This is in violation of laws that require the IRS to keep records of all official emails. Either the agency is incapable of maintaining records, or they have deliberately destroyed them in violation of the law. Either way, these are not the people you want handling your health care data.
3. The IRS lacks the resources to handle the task Politico has reported that the IRS lacked the manpower to handle even the ordinary workload of tax returns. The tax code is a bloated monstrosity of over 73,000 pages, to which changes are being made at a rate of more than one every day. The Affordable Care Act adds an additional 47 new duties and enforcement powers to an already overburdened agency with no clear guidelines for how the additional work is to be handled.
4. The IRS lacks accountability and is not interested in upholding the law White House Senior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer, when asked about legality of the IRS targeting conservative groups on ABC’s “This Week” said: "The law is irrelevant....Whether it’s legal or illegal doesn’t matter.” How can we expect an agency that doesn’t respect or show interest in the law to properly enforce it?
5. The IRS is only interested in its own budget, not your freedoms At a hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee, former IRS Commissioner Steven Miller offered the following excuse for the agency’s discriminatory practices: “it would be good to have a little budget that would allow us to get more than the number of people we have” How a small budget leads necessarily towards political profiling, however, remains obscure.
6. ObamaCare is outside the scope of the IRS’ intended purpose The purpose of the IRS is, and always has been, to collect and administer the federal income tax. In most cases, other taxes such as property taxes, payroll taxes and sales taxes are relegated to other agencies that have the expertise and specialization needed to properly administer them. The Affordable Care Act is dramatically expanding the role of the IRS into areas for which it is not prepared, and which are wholly inappropriate regarding its historical function.
7. IRS officials are either inept, dishonest or both In the Congressional Hearings regarding the IRS’ misconduct, former Commissioner Miller responded to an alarming number of questions by alleging that he didn’t know, couldn’t remember, or wasn’t sure. He was unable to name his employees, had no opinion on the appropriateness of certain actions, and generally claimed ignorance of much of the operations for the agency of which he was nominally in charge. If he is to be believed, then the least that can be said is that the IRS is wracked with incompetence, and should by no means be allowed to have any fraction of the power the Affordable Care Act would grant it. On the other hand, if Miller is not to be believed, that simply raises a whole different, though equally serious, problem.
8. The IRS takes every opportunity to pry into your personal life One of the many troubling facts to emerge from the recent scandal was the incredibly personal nature of some of the questions asked to groups applying for non-profit status. On some occasions, the IRS demanded resumes from all employees, the nature of personal relationships between individuals and even the contents of employees’ prayers. If this level of detail is required for a simple business matter, one can only imagine how the sorts of intimate medical records we will be expected to fork over when the IRS is granted supervision over our health care.
9. The IRS does not respect the confidentiality of private records And speaking of medical records, a class action lawsuit has been filed in California alleging that the IRS has illegally seized the medical records of ten million Americans. The Wall Street Journal reports that the IRS is now building “the largest personal information database the government has ever attempted.” With the IRS being given the power to grant subsidies and impose penalties relating to health insurance, expect privacy to become a thing of the past.
10. The Internal Revenue Code is too complex as it is The Internal Revenue Code comprises tens of thousands of pages of dense legalese, updated, altered and revised hundreds of times every year. While the IRS is theoretically an independent agency, it is still affected by the decisions made in Congress. Public Choice Theory in economics teaches us that the incentives faced by legislators lead inexorably to greater and greater complexities in an already hopelessly Byzantine code, as special interest groups continually push for exceptions, deductions and subsidies. For a law to be effective, the least that should be demanded is that the citizens be able to understand the regulations they are expected to follow. The IRS has a proven track record of failing in this requirement.
In short, the IRS has proven at every turn that it cannot be trusted with power. The Affordable Care Act results in the grossly irresponsible move of giving it to them in spades. The ability to control a citizen’s health care options through the administration of subsidies and taxes at will is a responsibility far too great to be handled by so few individuals, especially when said individuals have revealed themselves to be so easily swayed by the fickle winds of partisan politics.