(Senate - May 23, 2013)

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[Pages S3794-S3795]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                           IRS AND OBAMACARE

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, now I wish to talk about a real scandal 
and not a manufactured crisis.
  Nearly 2 weeks have now passed since we learned about the scandal at 
the IRS. The more we learn, the more troubling it becomes. It is now 
clear this was about much more than one or two employees going rogue at 
some far-flung office out in the administrative hinterlands as was 
first suggested.
  The facts we have seen so far point to something far more systemic 
than that, and it shouldn't surprise anybody. This is the IRS we are 
talking about--the IRS. This is an agency that is basically a euphemism 
for mind-numbing bureaucracy--the kind of place where one would assume 
nobody does much of anything without signatures and countersignatures 
from section chiefs and subsection chiefs and deputy office heads and 
secondary assistant deputy subassociate directors; sort of like a Kafka 
novel without the laughs.
  So what we first heard always stretched credulity. Employees at 
ground zero of the Federal bureaucracy going rogue? Come on. Think back 
to the testimony we heard this week--or didn't hear. Why did Lois 
Lerner and other senior and former IRS officials refuse to address 
questions they had previously misled Congress? Somehow I doubt it is 
because they had nothing of interest to say. We will look forward to 
hearing more from them and we will look forward to hearing from 
whomever actually made the decisions that led to these abuses, since no 
one we have heard from yet is able to take responsibility for what went 
  Let's not forget the administration continues to give us different 
timelines about who knew what and when.
  So the long and short of the situation is this: The public doesn't 
know the full story yet. A number of my constituents have shared 
stories with my office about the IRS auditing their organizations and 
businesses during the recent Presidential campaign for the first time 
ever. All of a sudden they get

[[Page S3795]]

audited during the Presidential campaign for the first time ever.
  These folks believe the audits were conducted for no other reason 
than the fact that their groups were conservative, and they believe the 
questions they have been asked have more to do with their political 
views than their business activities.
  Without a proper investigation, frankly, we will just never know. So 
we owe it to our constituents to have a detailed and deliberate 
investigation. That is why both House and Senate committees have begun 
investigations into the matter.
  That is why, last week, every Republican on the Finance Committee 
signed a letter to the Inspector General for Tax Administration 
requesting a probe into reports that the IRS leaked confidential 
information about conservative groups--actually, to their political 
opponents--leaked information about conservative groups to their 
political opponents, and that is why even the FBI is looking into the 
matter, because as Attorney General Holder recently testified, the 
IRS's targeting of conservative groups could have violated numerous 
criminal provisions.
  I am willing to bet there is a lot more we will discover in terms of 
scope, in terms of timeline, in terms of who was involved and why. But 
we certainly can't go about fixing the problem--we can't remove all of 
those who need to be removed, we can't put safeguards in place if they 
are deemed necessary--until we find out all the details.
  Here is another thing we shouldn't be doing: handing over the 
administration of ObamaCare to these folks--handing over the 
administration of ObamaCare to the IRS. Think about that, the deeply 
unpopular law being administered by an agency that has so betrayed the 
public trust. Even the IRS's staunchest defenders in this scandal 
describe their actions as a case of ``horrible customer service.'' That 
is the best they can say: ``Horrible customer service.'' Now they are 
going to be put in charge of a new $1 trillion program, one that will 
give them access to all sorts of sensitive and deeply personal 
  That is just what the administration and congressional Democrats are 
about to let happen. The IRS is in charge of administering some of the 
most important elements of ObamaCare, and for many Americans that is 
going to mean submitting to probing questions about their health 
insurance, questions such as--this is the IRS asking you, American 
citizens: Do you have insurance? What kind of insurance is it? Does it 
follow our rules? If the people at the IRS don't like the answers, 
Americans will be hit with new taxes. If the people over at the IRS 
don't like the answers to their questions about Americans' health 
insurance, they will be hit with new taxes.
  For small businesses, the questions are going to be far more 
extensive and the consequences for noncompliance far worse. The agency 
will have broad discretion to define what constitutes noncompliance. 
The IRS will have broad authority to determine what is noncompliance 
with ObamaCare. This is nuts.
  The potential for waste and abuse would have been there regardless of 
which agency was put in charge of administering this bloated law. 
ObamaCare is massive--about 20,000 pages of regulations already. That 
is about 7 feet tall. So waste and abuse is basically unavoidable, but 
now we are going to have Americans worrying they might be discriminated 
against too, just for having an opinion. Do my colleagues know what. We 
are not going to be able to tell them not to worry because we don't 
know the truth ourselves yet.
  Guess who is heading the IRS office charged with managing ObamaCare. 
Get this. It is the very same person who led the division of IRS now 
embroiled in the scandal who oversaw the very office now under fire for 
the discriminatory and harassing behavior. I am not making this up.
  Here is what needs to be done today: No. 1, the administration needs 
to work honestly and transparently with us to get to the bottom of this 
scandal once and for all. They can do that by working cooperatively 
with congressional investigators. They can do it by testifying openly 
and sharing key documents with House and Senate committees. They can 
help us conduct a thorough administrationwide review to ensure no other 
discrimination of this kind is occurring anywhere else--anywhere else--
in the Federal Government.

  No. 2, the administration needs to suspend its implementation of 
ObamaCare until all the things I mentioned have been taken care of. The 
Supreme Court declared the individual mandate, the core of ObamaCare, 
to be a tax--a tax--so IRS involvement is going to be absolutely 
unavoidable. That needs to be halted.
  Better yet, the administration could work with us to repeal the law 
and put in place health reforms that might actually work to control 
costs and provide better quality of care for our constituents. I 
wouldn't hold my breath on that one, by the way, but here is what I do 
know. I know we need to get to the bottom of this IRS scandal because, 
at a minimum, Americans from the left, right, and center should not 
have to worry their government will harass or intimidate them for 
daring--daring--to have an opinion and express it. They shouldn't have 
to worry about that when partaking in the political process, and they 
certainly should not have to worry about it when it comes to an issue 
as personal and as sensitive as health care.
  I yield the floor.