It’s no secret that the Internal Revenue Service was used as a political weapon by the Obama administration – just talk to any of the thousands of people affected by the agency’s obstruction of conservative, Christian and tea party organizations at the time Obama was seeking re-election.
Now, government documents have been obtained through a Judicial Watch lawsuit that show the scope of the abuse was much broader, including one revealing the White House used the IRS to pressure Americans to support Obamacare.
“So now we have more evidence of more Obama IRS abuses targeting innocent Americans – all in the name of Obamacare,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “No wonder it took a federal lawsuit and court order to get these documents – as they show the Obama White House and its agencies were happy to threaten and treat Americans like lab rats in order to bolster Obamacare.”
His organization announced Monday it has obtained two more batches of documents.
The documents, Judicial Watch said, show the Obama IRS “coordinated with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Obama White House Behavioral Sciences ‘Team’ in a $5 million program to pressure Americans to sign up for Obamacare.”
Judicial Watch said the documents also contain inter-agency agreements between the IRS and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) “devised to circumvent potential legal prohibitions on unauthorized disclosure or inspection of taxpayer information collected by the IRS.”
The documents were produced through a court order in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by Judicial Watch last spring.
Judicial Watch sought records on IRS targeting of those who paid a penalty rather than buy Obamacare or who requested an exemption. Also sought were related letters or notices, and records regarding cooperation between IRS, the Department of Health and Human Services or any other government entity.
Judicial Watch noted in September 2016 that Janet McCubbin of the IRS told fellow workers about drafts of letters that were prepared to send to “selected taxpayers.”
“These letters have been drafted with input from the White House Behavioral Sciences team,” she explained.
The team was a board appointed by Obama that instructed federal agencies to research how people make decisions about policy.
“The documents show that the agencies spent at least $5 million to develop the letters,” the report said.
In one letter the IRS sent, people were told they likely would owe a penalty if they didn’t buy Obamacare soon. The law provides extremely limited circumstances under which the IRS can reveal taxpayer information, and an email from 2015, which was heavily redacted, appears to suggest there was concern the “target letter might violate the law.”
Judicial Watch said HHS is authorized to send a simple notification of a taxpayer’s options, yet the letters specifically threatened penalties.
“HHS may have overstepped its authority by threatening people with penalty fees,” Judicial Watch commented, pointing to the threats of “at least $695 per adult and $347 per child (up to $2,085 per family).”
Judicial Watch also pointed out the letters were “misleading” in that they claimed “most people who enroll in plan through HealthCare.gov can find plans for $75 a month or less after financial help.”
The documents are part of a trove of thousands that Judicial Watch is trying to pry out of the government so taxpayers can examine the government’s operations under Obama.
The deliberate targeting of conservative and Christian organizations already has been confirmed, with IRS officials admitting they obstructed the applications of hundreds of conservative groups to obtain tax-exempt status.
In August, the Washington Times reported the Obama administration “misled” Americans into thinking signing up for Obamacare would be cheaper than it turned out to be. A report from an inspector general said the IRS campaign was prodding Americans to comply with the “individual mandate,” which penalizes them for not holding insurance coverage.