“We have a large government,” political consultant David Axelrod offered as a plea of ignorance to all of the scandals swirling around his boss. “Part of being president is there’s so much beneath you that you can’t know because the government is so vast.” And yet, thanks to Axelrod and Obama, we now stand on the precipice of the largest expansion of government power in almost half a century: Obamacare, officially known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
PPACA massively expands and empowers the same IRS that President Obama himself admits is an out-of-control agency that is being ineffectively managed by his administration. And it also creates sweeping new powers for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which is being engulfed in its own scandal that, most likely, Obama will also claim to know nothing about.
According to the Government Accountability Office, Obamacare creates 47 broad new tax and regulatory powers for the IRS, including taxes on individuals, employers, health insurance providers, and medical device manufacturers. Implementing these taxes and attendant regulatory requirements will mean collecting a vast amount of data, including sensitive health information.
The IRS has already proven itself unworthy of such new powers. Not only in its systematic targeting of political enemies, shamefully including those groups “educated on the Constitution and Bill of Rights,” which was supposed to be a fix to early targeting based on the words “tea party” and “patriot.” These groups were, illegally, asked to reveal their membership lists and answer detailed intrusive questions. And while hundreds of conservative groups opposed to PPACA and its vast expansion of IRS power were stalled for over two years, liberal groups engaging in the exact same activities were approved quickly with no questions asked.
It is not an open question whether IRS abuse of power will extend to PPACA implementation; it has already happened. The same IRS commissioner, Douglas Shulman (a Democrat originally appointed by President Bush and retained by President Obama) who told Congress falsely, “There’s absolutely no targeting,” also spearheaded an illegal IRS rulemaking that effectively blocks states from exercising their lawful right under PPACA to opt out of the law’s vast new taxpayer-funded subsidies and employer penalty taxes.
Michael Carvin of Jones Day, the lead counsel in a recently filed lawsuit against the rule said: “The IRS rule we are challenging is at war with the Act’s plain language and completely rewrites the deal that Congress made with the states on running these insurance exchanges.”
Phil Kerpen is president of American Commitment, a columnist on Fox News Opinion, chairman of the Internet Freedom Coalition, and author of the 2011 book Democracy Denied.
American Commitment is dedicated to restoring and protecting America’s core commitment to free markets, economic growth, Constitutionally-limited government, property rights, and individual freedom.
Washingtonian magazine named Mr. Kerpen to their "Guest List" in 2008 and The Hill newspaper named Mr. Kerpen a "Top Grassroots Lobbyist" in 2011.
Mr. Kerpen's op-eds have run in newspapers across the country and he is a frequent radio and television commentator on economic growth issues.
Prior to joining American Commitment, Mr. Kerpen served as vice president for policy at Americans for Prosperity. Mr. Kerpen has also previously worked as an analyst and researcher for the Free Enterprise Fund, the Club for Growth, and the Cato Institute.
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Mr. Kerpen currently resides in Washington, D.C. with his wife Joanna and their daughter Lilly.