The Individual Mandate: 16,000 IRS Agents
Do a web search on “16,000 IRS agents” and you’ll see a lot of foment about what it will take to enforce the “individual mandate” requiring everyone to buy health insurance under the new health care overhaul law.
According to some, the need for 16,500 agents is a “big lie.” FactCheck.org did an analysis of the 16,000 IRS agents story, and found that it started off as a partisan analysis that comes up false a variety of ways. They won’t all be “agents.” They won’t be armed. Sixteen thousand is at the high end of the estimate.
But when it starts talking about how all the new IRS employees are going to be doing “outreach,” not enforcement, FactCheck.org gets a little carried away with the debunking. The “scary claim of 16,500 new agents simply lacks any foundation in fact,” FactCheck says.
Ummm, here’s the foundation: Congressional Budget Office Director Doug Elmendorf’s March 11, 2010 letter to Senate Majority Leader says additional costs of the health care overhaul “would probably include an estimated $5 billion to $10 billion over 10 years for administrative costs of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and at least a similar amount for expenses of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).”
So $10 billion to $20 billion dollars will be spent just on administering the health care law and the individual mandate. It won’t all be revenuers with guns. Some of it will be HHS bureaucrats. But the point is that there will be a huge new bureaucracy dedicated among other things to making Americans buy government-approved health insurance. That’s all-new territory.
“16,500 IRS agents” may be technically inaccurate, but it’s a stand-in for a big new government bureaucracy that a lot of people don’t want.
The new spending will be in the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill (IRS) and the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill (HHS). These annual spending bills must be passed by October 1, 2010, the start of the new fiscal year. Watch for them as the annual spending season rolls on.