At the August hearing, Michigan Republican Rep. Tim Walberg asked Olson, "Do you believe that most Americans are going to update the IRS or state exchanges when they change jobs, get married, move states, whatever?"
"I think it's going to be a very great learning curve," Olson responded.
"With a lot of pitfalls?"
"With a lot of pitfalls," Olson agreed, suggesting that many taxpayers will discover their refunds reduced. "I think it will be a surprise to taxpayers if they don't update their information."
Obamacare also directs the IRS to share confidential personal tax returns with the exchanges and other government agencies. The IRS assures the public it already does that sort of thing for Medicaid, and that privacy is protected. "This agency takes data security very, very seriously," IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman told the House in August.
Even if everything works out as planned, Americans will still face a lot of work complying with Obamacare's requirements. National health care "will become a burdensome, costly and frustrating quagmire for millions of Americans," former IRS Commissioner Fred Goldberg told the House. Republican lawmakers estimate it will take about 80 million additional man-hours for Americans to comply.
President Obama and Democrats front-loaded the popular portions of Obamacare -- a ban on pre-existing conditions, coverage of adult children on parents' policies -- to go into effect before the 2012 election. They left harder parts -- the mandate, the Independent Payment Advisory Board, expanded powers of the IRS -- until 2014, after which, they hope, Obama will have been safely re-elected. But those parts of the law are on the way.
Romney often discusses Obamacare in general terms. The president "wants to put bureaucrats between you and your doctor," he said last week in Ohio. That's true. But the way Obamacare does that -- in particular, the IRS's role as health care enforcer -- might well strike dread in many American hearts. Romney owes it to voters to tell them exactly what is coming.
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