GOP's latest IRS hypocrisy

Republicans blend their attacks on Obamacare and IRS -- but their plan puts the IRS "in charge" of healthcare too!

Published August 22, 2013 8:25PM (EDT)

                      (AP/J. Scott Applewhite/Madalyn Ruggiero)
(AP/J. Scott Applewhite/Madalyn Ruggiero)

It looks like "Democrats want the IRS in charge of your healthcare" will be the "Democrats stole $700 billion from your Medicare" of the 2014 campaign.

Here's a taste from the National Republican Congressional Committee.

As with so many campaign ads, each wildly distorted claim here has origins in some actual fact, which they'll cite when comes calling. But there's something I find especially annoying about this ad and the broader plan to simultaneously smear the IRS, then use its role in the healthcare system to attack the Affordable Care Act.

Republicans get annoyed when people claim they don't have any decent healthcare ideas, let alone a holistic approach to reforming the healthcare system. They usually respond with a familiar laundry list of proposals they never did much to advance when they controlled government. One of these ideas is to build on a program they actually did act on, and increase the incentive for people to open their own health savings accounts. To build their own safety nets in the event they need costly care.

For the uninitiated, HSAs are tax-preferred vehicles that provide people with bare bones insurance as an incentive to put away money in the event they develop chronic illness, require long-term care, or experience a costly accident. Modeled after IRAs, they allow qualified people to put pre-tax dollars into an account that can only be drawn from without penalty to pay for certain medical costs.

There's plenty to dislike about HSAs, but that's an old debate for another time. Instead, I'm here to ask: What mysterious, benevolent government agency do Republicans think enforces this critical aspect of their supposedly grand plan to reform the healthcare system? Hint: It's three letters long.

By Brian Beutler

Brian Beutler is Salon's political writer. Email him at and follow him on Twitter at @brianbeutler.

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Health Savings Accounts Hsas Irs Obamacare Republicans Video