ObamaCare Clusterfuck: The IRS scandal and the ObamaCare "eligibility engine"
Reuters on the IRS scandal, which does seem to be genuine:
IRS Kept Shifting Targets in Tax-Exempt Groups Scrutiny: Report
That's the headline. And by "shifting" we mean "expanding."
When tax agents started singling out non-profit groups for extra scrutiny in 2010, they looked at first only for key words such as 'Tea Party,' but later they focused on criticisms by groups of "how the country is being run," according to investigative findings reviewed by Reuters on Sunday.
Over two years, IRS field office agents repeatedly changed their criteria while sifting through thousands of applications from groups seeking tax-exempt status to select ones for possible closer examination, the findings showed.
At one point, the agents chose to screen applications from groups focused on making "America a better place to live."
Yeah, who could want that? Still, I guess as long as you don't put "Occupier" in the Occupation (!) line on your 1040, you should be OK, right?
Moving on to ObamaCare, we should note that although the IRS does play three key functions in ObamaCare -- feeding your income to the ObamaCare "eligibility engine," fining you if you do not comply with the mandate, and giving you a tax credit on the basis of your eligibility for it, if any:
1. We have no evidence of individuals being targeted, and ObamaCare is about individuals; this scandal is about non-profit groups. So far as I can tell, we don't have a Nixon-style enemies list, where Nixon actually had the head of the Dermocratic National Committee personally audited. (I'm skipping the right wing fever swamp; the reasonably sober American Conservative, under the verging-on-deceptive headline "The IRS’s Enemies List" lists only groups, although if there's tax resistance to ObamaCare, that might change and individuals might actually be targeted.)
2. We have no evidence that any IRS data other than income is being fed into ObamaCare's "eligibility engine." For example, we have no evidence that the ObamaCare "eligibility engine" can uprate or downrate individuals based on any parameters supplied by the IRS other than income. Nor do we have evidence that the ObamaCare "eligibility engine" can uprate or downrate individuals based on a mapping, say, of their zip code parameter to Congressional District (though private entities have performed similar feats). We certainly have no evidence that the ObamaCare "eligibility engine" can uprate or downrate individuals based on their demographic characteristics and political affiliations; that would imply an ability to supply parameters to the engine from the political apparatus of a campaign, and the only evidence we have of campaign apparatus involvement in ObamaCare is on the marketing side.
Of course, we don't really know anything about the ObamaCare "eligibility engine" at all. Just saying.
UPDATE If I were Obama, and I were running a marketing campaign for ObamaCare, and I had pinned the success of ObamaCare on (a) IRS inputs for income (eligibility), (b) IRS outputs for subsidy, and (c) IRS penalties for non-compliance with the mandate, I would want to make sure that the IRS was squeaky clean, and moreover did not target ObamaCare's political opponents.
So much for that!
UPDATE I actually had forgotten about this story:
Starting this year, the IRS tools will be able to track all credit card transactions, for starters. The agency has also instructed agents on using online sources such as social media and e-commerce sites including eBay, as well as the rich data generated by mobile devices. In one controversial disclosure in April, the ACLU showed documents in which the IRS general counsel said the agency could look at emails without warrants, but the IRS has said it will not use this power.
While the agency has declined to give details about what third-party personal data it will use in robo-audits and data mining, it has told government and industry groups that its computers are capable of scanning multiple networks at the same time to collect “matching” [see "The Match Game" here] comprehensive profiles for every taxpayer in America. Such profiles will likely include shopping records, travel, social interactions and information not available to the public, such as health records and files from other government investigators, according to IRS documents.
Hmm. Of course, none of information will be used for "matching" purposes in the ObamaCare "eligibility engine." I mean, why would it be?