Michael Barone

But that's a reason why a Democratic White House should be especially alert for evidence that civil servants are targeting political opponents for unfavorable treatment. Especially when, as here, there were plenty of reports in the press and the blogosphere indicating that it was going on.

But maybe this Democratic White House didn't want to know. Or didn't understand the need for vigilance. Maybe someone figured, hey, let's not have this come out before the election.

The chill threatens to get even colder. It turns out that Sarah Hall Ingram, who served as head of the IRS office handling tax-exempt organizations between 2009 and 2012 -- when the targeting was going on -- is now head of the IRS division in charge of the IRS office policing Obamacare.

She's a career IRS lawyer, and it's not known whether she was aware of the targeting -- though it would be a little surprising if she wasn't.

She'll have a big job. The IRS is assigned a lot of work by the Obamacare law. It will impose penalties on Americans who can afford health insurance but choose not to buy it.

It will impose penalties on companies with more than 50 employees who work 30 hours a week and don't provide government-mandated policies.

It will give tax credits to non-affluent purchasers of health insurance on state exchanges. The IRS says it can also give tax credits to such people in states that have federally run exchanges, though many argue the law does not authorize that.

In other words, the IRS is going to possess and process a large amount of information not only on your income but on your health insurance and perhaps your health.

The IRS was given these tasks by the drafters of Obamacare because no other government agency had the capability to gain access to people's personal financial information. They may have thought that taxpayers would trust an agency that they had gotten used to dealing with.

That level of trust may not be as high as it was 10 days ago. Chilling effect, indeed.

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2013 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM


Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM