The High Court’s sweeping 5-4 decision ruling Obamacare constitutional as a tax two summers ago was a major boon to the Obama White House. In truth, had the president’s health care law been struck down (as it almost was), his legacy would have been tarnished. Democrats, too, would have been humiliated.
But that’s not what happened. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts essentially argued that the individual mandate was, as my former colleague Kate Hicks noted at the time, "[a] tax on not having healthcare.” In other words, failing to sign up for health insurance was not a criminal offense; therefore, the government had the constitutional authority to incentivize those who refused to enroll in the program by taxing them.
The non-profit Galen Institute meanwhile estimated last year that the IRS had already been handed “46 new powers” to administer the Affordable Care Act. However, the vast majority of Americans think the federal agency should just stick to what they, er, do best: revenue and tax collection:
Voters continue to think the Internal Revenue Service is not aggressive enough in going after tax cheats and believe strongly than the agency should focus on tax collection rather than taking on its new task of enforcing Obamacare.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 19% of Likely U.S. Voters think it is a good use of IRS resources for the agency to police public compliance with the new national health care law. Sixty-five percent (65%) believe the IRS should remain focused on collecting taxes, up seven points from 58% in April of last year. Fifteen percent (15%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
Parting question: If the IRS cannot be trusted to impartially review the applications of organizations applying for tax-exempt status, how can they be trusted to enforce the Affordable Care Act? Perhaps this is why so many Americans wish the IRS would just stay out of the healthcare business altogether.
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