Again over the last few days, we've been reminded that opponents of reform will say and do anything, no matter how outrageous the charge, to cast doubt on health reform legislation that will reduce costs for American families and small businesses, expand coverage to millions of Americans and end the worst practices of insurance companies.
In the latest example from an ever-growing list of willful distortions, the American people are being warned that because of health care reform, the federal government will hire over 16,000 new IRS agents to enforce the new law. Indeed, in a March 22 interview with Fox Business News, Rep. Ron Paul declared that the bill would mean “16,500 armed bureaucrats.” This is a thoroughly debunked charge that has absolutely no basis in reality. In fact, earlier this week the widely-respected FactCheck.org looked into this charge and concluded that it was a “wildly inaccurate…partisan assertion” that is “based on guesswork and false assumptions, and compounded by outright misrepresentation.” FactCheck concluded: the “claim of 16,500 new agents simply lacks any foundation in fact.”
What makes this whole attempt at fear mongering even more ridiculous is that this legislation represents the largest middle class tax cut for health care in our nation’s history. The major task of IRS employees that will work on implementing this legislation will be to inform the American people of the different aspects of reform that they stand to benefit from and to make sure the historic health care tax relief is administered smoothly and efficiently. Indeed their first task is to inform millions of small business owners that they are eligible this year for tax credits that will cover up to 35 percent of their premium contributions for their employees and to start planning for delivering $400 billion in affordability tax credits the IRS will work with the health exchanges to deliver starting in 2014.
Getting the word out about these tax credits and delivering them smoothly and accurately will require relatively modest investments in technology and staff – even if that is less interesting to some than their fantasies about 16,000 gun-toting bureaucrats.
What’s clear from all of this is that there are people who refuse to have a debate on the merits of health care reform. Maybe that’s because these ardent defenders of the status quo are worried about the consequences of stopping at nothing to deny the American people quality and affordable health insurance.
Linda Douglass is with the White House Office of Health Reform