The Obama administration has been "quietly diverting" roughly $500 million to the IRS to help implement the president’s controversial healthcare law, The Hill reports.
Funneled outside the normal appropriations process, the hefty sum is only a part of the IRS' total implementation spending. GOP lawmakers have attempted to forestall it, at least until the Supreme Court reveals whether or not the bill is constitutional, but have thus far been unsuccessful.
Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont) explained:
'While President Obama and his Senate allies continue to spend more tax dollars implementing an unpopular and unworkable law that may very well be struck down as unconstitutional in a matter of months, I’ll continue to stand with the American people who want to repeal this law and replace it with something that will actually address the cost of healthcare.'
The administration has endeavored to implement any policies it can before the final Supreme Court decision-- and it's burning through the implementation money fast.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was granted $1 billion, and it plans to have spent it all by September. This is more than a year before the majority of the law even takes effect, and coincidentally, right before the election. Part of the spending comes in the form of the aforementioned payments to the IRS, totaling $200 million over the past two years, and it plans to transfer another $300 million this year.
The Government Accountability Office assures the public that the large transfers are perfectly legal, but it does leave the HHS in a tight spot.
The Hill explains:
[Significant] transfers to the IRS and other agencies leave less money for HHS, and the department needs to draw on the $1 billion fund for some of its biggest tasks.
The healthcare law directs HHS to set up a federal insurance exchange — a new marketplace for individuals and small businesses to buy coverage — in any state that doesn’t establish its own. But it didn’t provide any money for the federal exchange, forcing HHS to cobble together funding by using some of the $1 billion fund and steering money away from other accounts.
But why take such an indirect route in funding the IRS?
The Hill speculates: "The transfers also allow the IRS to make the healthcare law a smaller part of its public budget figures. For example, the tax agency requested [only] $8 million next year to implement the individual mandate..."
The IRS will not only be responsible for penalizing those who do not have insurance, but also for implementing a bevy of new taxes and fees. They expect to add countless new employees to assist in the endeavor, at least 300 just covering tax changes and 537 monitoring new subsidies.
Critics object to the massive wealth transfer to the IRS on the grounds that Americans are essentially paying the IRS to take their money, for a bill that may or may not be constitutional.