Keeping the IRS Out of Your Health Care | Commentary
The scandals surrounding the Internal Revenue Service continue to grow. We now know that President Barack Obama’s handpicked chief counsel of the IRS was aware of his agency’s malfeasance. With this revelation, the shaky narrative originally pushed by the administration — that all blame lies with a few meddling staffers in the Cincinnati office — has come crashing down around them. This scandal implicates officials at the very highest levels of the IRS.
No agency has the ability to interject itself into the lives of Americans quite like the IRS does. For this reason, we expect it to adhere to the strictest code of nonpartisanship. In its failure to do so, the IRS has breached the public trust and cast serious doubt on its ability to properly conduct itself. This on its own is deeply troubling. Taken in the context of the looming implementation of Obamacare, it is cause for serious alarm.
By all accounts, the IRS is in charge of enforcing Obamacare. Under the law, Americans will be required to report to the IRS whether or not we are insured and, in return, the IRS will tax us accordingly. This raises an obvious question: Do we trust the IRS to implement this law — the most partisan in recent memory — with evenhanded fairness?
I do not. To that end, I introduced a bill in May that would deny the IRS the authority to implement Obamacare. This week, I submitted this legislation as an amendment to the appropriations bill currently pending before the Senate. It would be irresponsible to grant broad new powers to an agency that has shown a propensity to abuse what power it already has. Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., has introduced an identical bill in the House, where a vote on it is expected to pass next week. For my part, I intend to use every lever at my disposal to force an up-or-down vote on the measure in the Senate.
Of course, there is no shortage of good reasons to oppose the implementation of Obamacare. As the law enters its fourth year, there are reams of data that articulate its injurious effects on jobs, the economy and the bottom lines of American households across the country.
A recent survey found that, in response to Obamacare, 74 percent of small businesses are going to reduce hiring, reduce worker hours or replace full-time employees with part-time workers. A separate survey of large health insurers found that premium costs for young and healthy Americans in the individual and small-group market will “increase by an average of 169 percent.” Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal found that individual coverage rates for healthy Americans could “double or even triple.”
But the greatest indictment of the law has come from the Obama administration itself. The ink hardly had time to dry before the administration was quietly brainstorming ways to avoid the slow-motion train wreck it had set in motion. Now, three years and thousands of waivers later, the White House has announced it will delay the implementation of the employer mandate by one year. In doing so, the administration is violating the very law that stands as Obama’s “signature achievement.”
You know you have a bad law on the books when you need to break it in order to achieve its intended goal. Rather than break the law, let’s repeal it. Rather than offer an ever-widening web of executive waivers, let’s replace this unworkable law with something that can stand on its own merits. And rather than hand over more power to the IRS, let’s put the power back in the hands of patients and their doctors.
Sen. John Cornyn is a Republican from Texas.