IRS scandal adds fuel to Obamacare fire
May 16th, 2013
07:04 PM ET
8 years ago

IRS scandal adds fuel to Obamacare fire

(CNN) - The House of Representatives passed a measure to repeal Obamacare entirely on Thursday - a move the GOP-led chamber has done twice already.

But the latest scandal involving the IRS, one of the key agencies charged with enforcing the health care law, is adding fuel to the political fire over the controversial new law.

And Congressional Republicans are already citing a new development as another reason why health care needs to be rolled back. Sarah Hall Ingram, who heads the implementation of the Affordable Care Act at the IRS, formerly led the agency's tax exempt/government entities division, the same division that's now taking heat for targeting conservative groups in the past few years.

Republicans lawmakers united against the creation of Obamacare in 2010 and have not stopped criticizing it or trying to scrap it since. Thursday's vote was the 37th time the GOP-led House has voted to eliminate all or parts of the law. This time GOP members are directly linking the news that the IRS was inappropriately targeting tea party groups that were seeking tax-exempt status to its battle to get rid of Obamacare. And top leaders are making it clear that railing against the health care law remains a central focus in the next midterm election.

"I've said for some time I think 2014 will be the year of Obamacare, because that's when most of this begins to phase in," Oregon GOP Rep. Greg Walden, who heads the House Republican campaign committee, told CNN on Wednesday.

Walden said the recent developments about the IRS add a new component to the GOP warnings about the problems it sees ahead, "given the politicization of the IRS, as we're beginning to learn the breadth and scope, there will be a lot of angst about the president's health care law."

Shortly after the vote, the Democratic House campaign arm launched web ads against what it considers 10 vulnerable House Republicans who voted for the repeal.

"There's no telling how much time and money House Republicans will waste on their backwards repeal effort, but Americans have lost their patience," said Jesse Ferguson of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

But Republicans on Capitol Hill say most Americans don't yet realize that the IRS is charged with key parts of Obamacare, including enforcing the mandate that individuals carry health insurance. Now that the agency has lost credibility they plan to capitalize on the increased public attention by calling into question whether the IRS is up to the task.

"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," Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick said on the House floor Thursday.Connecticut Democratic Rep Rosa DeLauro waved off the GOP warning, and told reporters Wednesday that implementation of the health care law is a separate issue from the IRS changing its procedures for dealing with political groups, saying Wednesday, "We can walk and chew gum at the same time."

Given the political potency and fact that Obama is still dogged by the issue, Republicans are determined to continue linking the two issues. Legislation was introduced this week by GOP members in the House and Senate that would block the IRS from getting any new funding to hire personnel to implement Obamacare.

New York Democratic Rep. Steve Israel, who chairs the House Democrats' campaign committee, said voters are tired of the repeated partisan fights over health care and any move to repeal it means taking away benefits people already use.

"Once again, the Republican Congress is wasting taxpayer dollars and trying to put insurance companies back in charge of our care. The consequences are clear: fewer protections for consumers, more health-care related bankruptcies and more money for the insurance companies," Israel said in a written statement.

Democrats also point out that Republicans pledged to "repeal and replace" Obamacare, but have only repeatedly voted to roll it back without any plans for what would be put in its place.

Pressed on that issue at his weekly news conference, House Speaker John Boehner said House GOP members are talking about the issue and expected "in the coming weeks to have a discussion about Obamacare and how we're going to deal with it and what replacement legislation would look like."

Democrats may publicly dismiss this week's vote as another GOP political maneuver, but some admit that putting the new health care system in place could be messy and have negative political fallout for those who voted for it.

Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the number two House Democrat, conceded Tuesday, "We are concerned about the implementation," telling reporters about Obamacare, "I think it's going to be difficult to implement without glitches, and I would think we'd be surprised if there weren't some glitches."

Last month Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, who was a chief architect of Obamacare in the Senate, told Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius he believed the implementation of the new law was going to be a "train wreck" - making that phrase the new mantra for Republicans. Not long after Baucus made the remarks he announced he would not run for re-election in what would have been a top-tier Senate race.

Democratic Rep. Ron Barber of Arizona, who was narrowly re-elected narrowly in 2012 is one of the main House GOP targets in 2014, and told CNN, "I think we're right to have concerns about implementation because it's a huge lift."

Barber, like most other Democrats, called the GOP repeal vote "just wasted time" and said Congress needs to be focused on fixing the parts of the law he doesn't think are working. The Arizona Democrat is positioning himself for the GOP attacks are sure to keep coming. He has introduced a series of bills to show what parts he wants to repeal, including one getting rid of a tax on medical devices, one eliminating the panel of outsiders to oversee the implementation, and another that stops the current threshold for seniors to deduct medical expenses on their taxes from going up.

Hoyer blamed the GOP for deliberately undermining what was already a complicated task.

"Republicans are doing everything they possibly can to make this program, which is of great benefit to the American people, fail," he said.

While Congressional Democrats, who see their fates tied to how smoothly Obamacare goes into effect, increase pressure on the administration to ensure the law is workable, the GOP is at the ready to highlight every bump in the road between now and the 2014 elections.

"As we were completely shut out of the legislative process they have full ownership of everything that happens in health care - good and bad," Walden said.

Filed under: Dean Heller • Healthcare • John Boehner • Kathleen Sebelius • Republican
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. steve

    The American people are so screwed.

    May 16, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  2. Gurgyl

    What is so wrong in verifying conservatives for their TAX-CHEATING. It is good they did. Nothing wrong with Obama. Nor WH.

    May 16, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  3. FLIndependent

    Repealing Obamacare is the reason for the attack on the IRS by the Repubs – this is what it boils down to. Make the IRS out to be as evil and untrustworthy as possible so people will think twice about having them administer the fee for not getting health insurance. The majority of people have caught on to the Repubs games and we are sick of them. All they do is tear down; never build up!!

    May 16, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  4. Sniffit

    "the GOP has some extra ammunition"

    They're blanks.

    May 16, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  5. Colorado

    When was it decided that members of Congress are more valuable than the average citizen? Why is it ok to figure out how to pay for their healthcare, but not ours? Really, I just want the same benefits they get.

    May 16, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  6. Rudy NYC

    Shazzam! They're shakin' in their boots.

    May 16, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  7. MTATL67

    Again the Republicans are mistaken if they think this is their holy grail to victory. The groups the IRS were looking at were extremists and racists. Do not forget the groups in question want to stripe the rights of those that do not agree with them. The hard won victories on marriage equality and equal pay and others will be undone if we cave into these extremists. Do not surrender and hand over our victories to them.

    May 16, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  8. Alan

    Yeah, thanks to CNN and the other media rags who don't believe Tax Reform, Immigration Reform, Jobs Bills are sexy enough to drive readership, the Republicans, carrying 140 round 'clips' although they haven't exhibited the mental capacity to work on compromise and making anything better, are 'armed' to the teeth with mis-information..guess what CNN – the american public doesn't care about your articles on the past, we are out of work, without healthcare, living in our cars, can't afford gasoline to move them, and are sick and tired of scandals which are fabricated by the media (i.e. Sequester Gate, Bengazhi Gate')

    May 16, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  9. Palin Power

    Obama has committed sacrilege by having his IRS target conservative groups. These groups are backed and blessed by God and should not be taxed. Taxing the Tea Party is taxing God. This is a very clear sign that Sarah Palin will rise in 2016 and ascend to the heavenly White House.

    May 16, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  10. Jinx9to88

    GOP, Obamacare is law. Get over it!!! The president will veto any bill that comes to his desk. So Appeal Obamacare is dead on arrival for the next 3 years at least. Then when Hilary becomes president its 8 more years after that!!!

    May 16, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  11. Dallas

    This is the most useless House of Representatives that I have ever seen in my life. So many whack jobs it's hard to distinguish the sane from the crazy. Didn't they hear the Supreme Court decision regarding Obamacare? IT'S THE LAW OF THE LAND – GIVE IT A REST. So discouraged with all the government. The people just don't matter to them. We need to vote them all out and start fresh!

    May 16, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  12. bill

    Oh just wait, the hammer is coming down on all the people who work for a living in the way of much higher insurance premiums for less coverage. a lot of us have already felt some of that, my premiums went up slightly and my out of pocket maximum trilped, yes its now 24000 a year, and they are redoing that in january, when this hits every working person in the US head will roll at the polls.

    May 16, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  13. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    "the GOP has some extra ammunition"

    They're blanks.
    Like the ammunition Marcus Bachmann shoots.

    May 16, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  14. Anderson

    I'm waiting to see exactly how fast Elizabeth Warren's bill will pass through congress.

    You know, the one where the college students pay the same rate on their loans like the big banks. Which is less then 1%.

    May 16, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  15. America Above Parties

    What is this obsession with GOP/TP they want nothing but bring America DWON as long as this dark-skin is the president. Their whining, sulking, crying, yelling fire in a theatre, down right mean spirited if I can't have it-you can't have it actions are sickening us. Despite all of their destructive behavior, Obama is getting US back in the right direction. Economy is improving, jobs numbers are getting better...

    May 16, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  16. Joi Gibson

    Groundhog Day is right. They can't see how silly they look by doing the same thing over and over and over again. This thing with the IRS may give them fodder for their base, but for them to keep voting on this knowing nothing will come of it will only make them look sillier than they already do. If a government agency has done something wrong, what you do is correct it and not make it fodder for political gain. Obviously, they care nothing about governing, they just like government power for themselves – the very same thing they moan and groan about.

    May 16, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  17. PaulCat

    Come on Republicans.

    Remember, Jobs, Jobs and Jobs?

    John Boehner, I know you remember.

    Vote Democrat: 2014 and 2016.

    May 16, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  18. ST

    The Supreme Court declared Obama Care is the law of the land. Even the so-called Speaker Boehner declared so. How come that they want to go against it. Are we living with people who have right mind of thinking, OR are we living with crazy people who measure their mood of thinkig differently, each day which passes by!

    May 16, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  19. California Gary

    In spite of all the GOP efforts to stop, delay, or water down every action this POTUS has taken, the economy is turning around for the better. This must be very frustrating for folks who are so focused on taking down the POTUS that they are willing to do harm to our country in the process. What really turns my stomach is hearing them call themselves "patriots".........

    May 16, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  20. Independent


    Again the Republicans are mistaken if they think this is their holy grail to victory. The groups the IRS were looking at were extremists and racists. Do not forget the groups in question want to stripe the rights of those that do not agree with them. The hard won victories on marriage equality and equal pay and others will be undone if we cave into these extremists. Do not surrender and hand over our victories to them.
    Of course, if all else fails, call them racist!!! Give it up already, both you and the GOP on this one! enough votes for this Obamacare, I agree they need to move on but I am sick of all you libs calling people who don't agree with you racist!!!! Just cause someone does not agree with you does not make them racist, YOU are the only ones that seem racist because you place that card every five minutes!!!

    May 16, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  21. Rudy NYC


    I'm waiting to see exactly how fast Elizabeth Warren's bill will pass through congress.
    You know, the one where the college students pay the same rate on their loans like the big banks. Which is less then 1
    The Obama administration took private banks out of the loop for student loans. Those loans are now managed by a government agency, which turned a $66 billion profit in 2011. That's more than the big 3 oil companies and car companies combined.

    May 16, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  22. The Dude

    The House Republicans are a complete waste of oxygen and our tax dollars. They have become a cancer on this nation and need to be removed from office. The only reason they oppose the ACA is because it will regulate the profits of the healthcare industry. They don't care about the health and welfare of the majority of Americans, only the welfare of their corporate sponsors and the wealthy. It's time to rise up against these corporate puppets.

    May 16, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  23. smitvict

    "When President Obama was selling his health care legislation to Congress, he declared that “the plan I’m proposing will cost around $900 billion over 10 years.” But with the law’s major provisions set to kick in next year, a new analysis by the Congressional Budget Officeprojects that the law will cost double that, or $1.8 trillion.

    What accounts for the dramatic difference? It’s true that at the time of passage, the CBO said the gross cost of the law’s provisions to expand insurance coverage would be $940 billion over a decade. But as many critics of the health care law pointed out at the time, this number was deceptive because it estimated spending from 2010 through 2019 even though the program’s major spending provisions weren’t scheduled to go into effect until 2014. Effectively, the original estimate measured the cost of six years of Obamacare instead of 10.

    Now, as implementation approaches, CBO has released projections for the 2014 to 2023 budget window — the first actual decade of Obamacare — and the gross cost projection is $1.8 trillion."

    May 16, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  24. Minnie Mouse

    Just give it up on the repeal! Does any of you not play baseball?? Three strikes and your out! You all have voted over 30 times and it's still a no deal on the repeal of the "Affordable Care Act".

    Everyone needs healthcare and if your not paying the costs of your own, it's shifted on to everyone else. We all do deserve better healthcare coverage plans, with lower deductibles and we should also be getting cheaper rates but we are currently not.

    If you want to keep voting on something, then keep swinging and batting at the "Gun Violence" in our country until something is done to win the war of the guns and terrorists. Everyone will figure out one way or another how to pay for healthcare via on his or her own, as well as including those who will need government asssitance.

    As a country there's only so much people can do to protect themselves and his or her family. The current state of our country, it's not safe. This is a bigger issue than trying to change a law in healthcare that's your obviously unable to change. So please spend your time making changes in the things you can change, which is making our country safe.

    May 16, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  25. fedup

    If Obama scare is so good, then why is he not on it???????????????????????????????????????????

    May 16, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
1 2