Posts Tagged ‘Internal Revenue Service’

Who’s ready for another major shift in the IRS’ official story?  In recent days, Darrell Issa‘s Democratic counterpart on the House Oversight Committee, Elijah Cummings, has been telling anyone who will listen that Congress’ IRS “witch hunt” is over and resolved.  His absurd assertions — from which he’s edged away slightly — smack of desperation, especially considering that new developments continue to arise.  Why, here’s one just now, and it’s a biggie:

“The Internal Revenue Service‘s screening of groups seeking tax-exempt status was broader and lasted longer than has been previously disclosed, the new head of the agency said Monday. In a conference call with reporters, Danny Werfel said that after becoming acting IRS chief last month, he discovered wide-ranging and improper terms on lists screeners were still using to choose groups for careful examinations. He did not specify what terms were on the lists, but said he suspended the use of all such lists immediately. “There was a wide-ranging set of categories and cases that spanned a broad spectrum” on the lists, Werfel said. He added that his aides found those lists contained “inappropriate criteria that was in use.” Werfel’s comments suggest the IRS may have been targeting groups other than tea party and other conservative organizations for tough examinations to see if they qualify. The agency has been under fire since last month for targeting those groups. His comments also indicate that the use of inappropriate terms on such lists lasted longer than has been revealed previously. A report last month by a Treasury Department inspector general said agency officials abolished targeting of conservative groups with those lists in May 2012.”

It seems the Inspector General report missed the boat on the ongoing malfeasance detail.  This is the same report Cummings cites as sufficient oversight, which totally ignores the IG’s questionable timing in releasing its findings.   And just for good measure, Werfel serves up this verdict:

“We have not found evidence of intentional wrongdoing by anyone in the IRS or involvement in these matters by anyone outside the IRS,” he told reporters.”

In other words, no one else (read: within the administration) knew about our continued wrongful actions, which were also totally accidental.  ‘Innocent incompetence’ strikes again.  Let’s face it: Internal investigations often produce whitewashes, which is why you can color Issa very skeptical.  Under the best case scenario, the federal government is so vast and unaccountable that this major agency managed to carry on its high-profile inappropriate behavior in the midst of a massive media firestorm over those very actions.  Most Americans do not buy the IRS’ ineptitude defense, though they’re unlikely to dispute the government’s bloated incompetence.  The likelier explanation for all of this is malicious intent, coupled with ass-covering lies.  We’re not sure how far up the chain this corruption goes, but a plurality of Americans think the White House is responsible.  At the very least, high-ranking officials in Washington directed the targeting program, and members of the administration knew about it well before the 2012 elections.

Bloomberg reports that the just-disclosed “inappropriate terms” that were still being used as of a few weeks ago included “occupy,” “progressive” and “Israel.”  That last one won’t come as a great shock to those who’ve followed this matter closely, but the other two are noteworthy.  Was the IRS also targeting left-leaning groups, and if so, for how long?  Lefty groups have said publicly that they weren’t targeted, an apparent truth that was confirmed by both a former IRS commissioner under oath — as well as the Inspector General’s probe, which stated the following: “The criteria developed by the Determinations Unit gives the appearance that the IRS is not impartial in conducting its mission.”  So what’s going on here?  And how on earth were shady “BOLO” lists still being employed until last month?  I’ll leave you with Eliana Johnson’s WSJ piece taking Cummings to task for his politicized leaking and IRS excuse-making.  Our own Carol Platt Liebau has made similar points about the non-exculpatory transcripts Cummings released, the purpose of which were to provide political cover for his friends at the IRS and the administration.  Considered in a vacuum, the transcripts are interesting.  Given all other relevant evidence, they’re empty.  Parting thought: If it turns out that the IRS targeted some lefty groups (we need to see more evidence on that, plus a timeline), will Elijah Cummings keep pretending this investigation is essentially over?

Original article can be found at http://townhall.com/tipsheet/guybenson/2013/06/24/report-irs-targeting-was-broader-lasted-longer-than-previously-disclosed-n1626660

Photo - A new rule requires state, federal and local agencies as well as health insurers to swap the protected personal health information of anybody seeking to join the new health care program that will be enforced by the Internal Revenue Service. (Photo: Thinkstock)

A new 253-page Obamacare rule issued late Friday requires state, federal and local agencies as well as health insurers to swap the protected personal health information of anybody seeking to join the new health care program that will be enforced by the Internal Revenue Service.

Protected health information, or PHI, is highly protected under federal law, but the latest ruling from the Department of Health and Human Services allows agencies to trade the information to verify that Obamacare applicants are getting the minimum amount of health insurance coverage they need from the health “exchanges.”

The ruling, explained on pages 72-73 of the book-thick guidance, does not mention any requirement that applicants first OK the release of their PHI. HHS already allows some exchange of PHI without an individual’s pre-approval, especially when for a “government program providing public benefits.” Officials said the swapping of information is simply meant to help figure the best insurance coverge of Obamacare users.

The new ruling surprised some congressional critics. “This sounds as if HHS will have access to protected health info to me,” said one top Hill aide worried about how well the administration will protect that information.

Conservative groups including Americans for Tax Reform have raised questions about the release of PHI in the aftermath of the IRS scandal.

PHI includes an individual’s medical history, test and laboratory results, insurance information and other data.

The new rule said that appropriate privacy laws will be followed.

“The exchange would submit specific identifying information to HHS and HHS would verify applicant information with information from the federal and state agencies or programs that provide eligibility and enrollment information regarding minimum essential coverage. Such agencies or programs may include but are not limited to Veterans Health Administration, TRICARE, and Medicare,” said the new rule, which HHS is seeking public comment on.

“HHS will work with the appropriate federal and state agencies to complete the appropriate computer matching agreements, data use agreements, and information exchange agreements which will comply with all appropriate federal privacy and security laws and regulations. The information obtained from federal and state agencies will be used and re-disclosed by HHS as part of the eligibility determination and information verification process,” added the rule.

Explaining the PHI release ruling, HHS said Obamacare “is a government program providing public benefits, is expressly authorized to disclose PHI … that relates to eligibility for or enrollment in the health plan to HHS for verification of applicant eligibility for minimum essential coverage as part of the eligibility determination process for advance payments of the premium tax credit or cost-sharing reductions.”

Original story at http://washingtonexaminer.com/article/2531990