Specifically, Romney might want to focus on the new and expanded role that the Internal Revenue Service will play in Americans' lives as a result of the Affordable Care Act.
The nation's widely reviled tax collector will also become its health care enforcer. Once the law goes fully into effect, all Americans will have to prove that they have "qualified" health coverage -- and, of course, the government will decide what "qualified" health coverage is. If people don't have coverage, and the IRS determines they have the ability to pay for it, the IRS will go after them.
The Obama administration has tried to downplay what the feds will do to collect the penalty for not buying coverage -- a penalty that will range from $695 a year for lower-income people to $12,500 for a higher-income family. Administration officials and Democrats in Congress have stressed that Obamacare does not permit the IRS to garnish wages or seize cash and assets from taxpayers.
What they mention less frequently is that the IRS has another way to get the money. About three-quarters of U.S. taxpayers receive refunds after filing their returns each year, with the average refund nearly $3,000. After 2014, those people will discover the IRS can take the penalty out of their refunds.
"The IRS is prevented from issuing liens or levies or other enforcement action," Nina Olson, who holds a job called the National Taxpayer Advocate at the IRS, told a House hearing in August. "It can collect that mandate through what we call 'refund offset,' where a taxpayer has a refund coming to them and we would offset that refund amount with the amount of the penalty."
The IRS will also determine who is eligible for taxpayer-financed subsidies to purchase health care on the exchanges that will be set up in every state. Anytime anyone's situation changes -- a raise, a new job, a move to another state -- that person will be required to report it to the IRS for the purpose of recalculating their eligibility.
This is not a small group. Obamacare will give tax credits for the purchase of health coverage to people who make up to four times the poverty level -- at the moment, that's $44,100 a year for an individual and $88,200 for a family of four. Those millions of Americans had better keep the IRS informed of their status every step of the way.
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