By Grace-Marie Turner
The House is expected to overwhelmingly approve a bill this week, likely support from some Democrats, to defund the Internal Revenue Service’s implementation of Obamacare and limit its 46 powers to collect taxes, distribute subsidies, collect information, and enforce compliance with the health-care law.
Representative Tom Price of Georgia introduced H.R. 2009, the “Keep the IRS Off Your Health Care Act,” to bar the IRS from implementing or enforcing any component of the health law.
“President Obama’s Washington health care takeover allows a discredited government agency to be involved in some of the most personal decisions of our lives,” Price, a physician, said. “The IRS has proven either unwilling or unable to fairly and prudently enforce current laws and regulations of the federal government. How can we possibly trust them to implement a massive takeover of health care?”
But the House won’t be stopping there. In addition, the House Appropriations Committee has approved legislation that would cut the IRS’ overall budget 30 percent below its request and imposes requirements for strict oversight of its activities.
The Appropriates Committee cites numerous examples of “IRS’ troubles” that it says “are neither superficial nor simple” in its report accompanying the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill that contains IRS funding for 2014.
Chairman Harold Rogers (R., Ky.) has put the IRS on notice that it will not tolerate wasteful IRS spending or “inappropriate singling out of certain tax-exempt groups based on their political beliefs.”
“The Committee has taken steps to begin reforming the agency by reducing the IRS’ appropriation by 24 percent compared to the fiscal year 2013 continuing resolution level, which is $3.9 billion, or 30 percent, below the budget request,” the report says.
In addition to significant cuts to the agency’s funding, the bill requires detailed reporting on agency spending, listing the following “terms and conditions”:
- Withholds 10 percent of the IRS’ already-reduced enforcement appropriation until all of the recommendations contained in the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s (TIGTA) report on inappropriate criteria being used to identify tax-exempt applications for review are fully implemented.
- Prohibits funds for conferences until all of TIGTA’s recommendations regarding conferences are implemented.
- Prohibits funds for employee bonuses and awards until the IRS, with the assistance of the Office of Personnel Management, has determined the IRS’ employee recognition programs actually improve employee performance and productivity.
- Requires extensive reporting on IRS spending.
- Prohibits funds for the production of videos that have not been reviewed for cost, topic, tone, and purpose and certified to be appropriate.
- Provides TIGTA with $5,462,000 above the budget request to enhance its audit and investigative oversight of the IRS.
- The Committee continues to be concerned with the IRS’ role in implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the individual mandate in particular. At a time when the IRS has demonstrated little ability to self-police or self-correct, the IRS is on the precipice having even more authority over policing Americans’ health coverage.
The Committee finds this expansion of IRS authority to be unacceptable and, therefore, prohibits funding to implement the individual mandate and prohibits transfers from the Department of Health and Human Services to fund the IRS’ implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
Posted on National Review Online August 1, 2013