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July 28, 2014

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Heller says IRS can’t be trusted to oversee Obamacare

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Steve Marcus

Dean Heller, candidate for Nevada’s U.S. Senate seat, speaks during a debate with Shelley Berkley on the “Ralston Reports” television program at the KSNV-Channel 3 studios Monday, Oct. 15, 2012.

The scandal over the Internal Revenue Service’s apparent targeting of conservative groups is paving the way for a politically charged spinoff, as Republicans question whether the now-sullied IRS should be trusted to enforce the tax provisions of the new health care law.

At the center of the new chapter of IRS-gate is Nevada’s Sen. Dean Heller, who said Tuesday that he would introduce legislation this week to suspend $440 million of IRS funding intended to help enforce Obamacare.

“With the recent events related to the Internal Revenue Service, I feel it is necessary that both Congress and the Department of Health and Human Services look closely at the money given to the IRS through the health care law,” Heller wrote in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “I intend to introduce legislation this week to suspend IRS funding for new agents enforcing the health care law until Congress sees an improvement.”

The IRS plans to hire a battery of new agents whose primary responsibility will be administering and enforcing the tax provisions of President Barack Obama’s health care law. New tax provisions are at the heart of the health care law, as it will be up to the IRS to determine which businesses and individuals are eligible for tax breaks under the law once it is up and running — as well police the system to make sure that both businesses and individuals observe the individual mandate, or pay the tax penalty.

Sebelius has said the new IRS agents are a crucial part of ensuring that the state-based exchanges, which are supposed to open for would-be insurance purchasers on Oct. 1 and go into full effect by Jan. 1.

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Attorney General Eric Holder pauses during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, Tuesday, May 14, 2013. Holder said he's ordered a Justice Department investigation into the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative groups for extra tax scrutiny.

In his letter, Heller acknowledged that Nevada is pushing full speed ahead with its own exchange, and said that he hoped that his forthcoming bill “is unnecessary.” He invited Sebelius to contact him so they could work together on a solution — though he did not sound too optimistic that the administration would comply, given his unsuccessful past attempts to engage the president in a discussion about health care.

But before Heller can tangle with the administration, his forthcoming legislative vehicle faces a first hurdle in Sen. Harry Reid, who has effectively worked to block bills that would threaten to derail or delay the implementation of the health care law, as Heller’s could.

Republican Senate leaders, who continue to oppose Obamacare, appear to be supporting Heller’s approach.

“These are the folks that are supposed to enforce the health care law,” said Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, who serves as the Republican Policy Committee chairman. “I can’t imagine the American people are going to be delighted with the misuse of health care we’ve seen from the IRS and wanting to entrust them with their health care.”

Though Heller spent several years railing against Obamacare, he told the Sun in late December that after the 2012 election, that the debate over health care had been settled, and the fight to undo it ought to be abandoned.

But that was before the IRS scandal broke.

“I believe we need to address IRS funding in the health care law now, which may mean calling for a temporary suspension until it is clearer where this funding will go,” Heller wrote in his letter to Sebelius.

Heller did not say in his letter what would need to transpire before Congress and the country could have enough faith in the IRS again for the hiring of additional agents to proceed as planned, should his forthcoming measure be adopted.

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  1. You can see the gears clicking in Senator Heller's head.

    After he helped the Tea/Republican Party Senators vote down the common sense gun control background check legislation, he willingly DISAPPEARED from view to the public.

    During the recess, when everyone was conducting town halls, Senator Heller hid from everyone.

    Because he knew that not only did he go against just about 91 percent of the American peoples' wishes, but also an overwhelming 87 percent of Nevada voters.

    Now, in light of perceived scandals, he comes out and goes on the attack.

    He absolutely LOVES that the conversation has changed away from his incompetency.

    Not only that, but he LOVES attacking President Obama and his administration.

    Also, it has the added benefit of taking the IRS scandal and uses it to go after the Affordable Care Act....legislation he voted against. Legislation that Nevadans want. Because essentially 22 percent of Nevadans now will have comprehensive and affordable health care...that they never had before.

    Heller is scum. This latest revelation confirms he is indeed scum. He attacks the Affordable Care Act, which is the law of the land, much desired by Nevada and more than welcomed. I guess Heller wants it to go back the way it was. So they can turn Nevada into a death camp. One where only the rich survive...and to hell with everyone else.

    We just had a large gun show at Cashman Field on May 11-12. I bet Senator Heller was there with a wheelbarrow to help assist straw buyers and criminals convey their purchases to their cars. Because the legislation he helped shoot down permits criminals and straw buyers to circumvent around background checks.

    Good job, Heller, you bum.

    You are STILL going to be held accountable for the deplorable gun buyer background check vote from before.

    You think this scandal thing changes the conversation. It doesn't. We, the voters out here in Nevada, WILL remember all this when you step forward and want to be re-elected.

    Nice try with trying to link the Affordable Care Act to IRS. What's next? Tie it in with Benghazi? Or the President's teleprompter?

    Heller is a bum. He don't represent Nevada. He represents himself and his radical and extreme over reaching Tea/Republican Party.

    Don't believe me? Look at the Nevada Federal Judge nominations he's blocked. Two of them now. This position is an emergency fill, but Heller don't care. All he knows is that if President Obama is for it, he's against it.

    Nevada deserves better than Heller. That's a fact.

  2. As a minor member with limited intelligence of the minority party from an insignificant state it is unlikely that Heller will get much more out of this than a couple of headlines and some campaign material.

  3. Good for Heller. From opposing the Liberal Gun Grab bills to funding IRS Oppression agents, Heller listens to his constituents and does the right thing. Thanks Honorable Heller.

  4. @Colin From Las Vegas,

    Heller did the right thing in the Gun Bill. Current surveys show that 76% of Gun Owning Democrats will vote Republican in 2014 & 2016 because the 2nd Amendment is their Right too.

    The 90% of voters wanting better background checks was a made up number that can't be proven outside of the CNN story that fabricated it. It's only the very loud Liberals who want more gun control and they have self marginalized through the attacks on the American Bill of Rights.

    Thanks to the attacks on the American Bill of Rights, you can expect to see a Republican control House and Senate in 2014.