In another act of Defiance not even waiting for the Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare:
White House has diverted $500M to IRS to implement healthcare law
By Sam Baker – 04/09/12
The Obama administration is quietly diverting roughly $500 million to the IRS to help implement the president’s healthcare law. [Emphasis added]
The money is only part of the IRS’s total implementation spending, and it is being provided outside the normal appropriations process. The tax agency is responsible for several key provisions of the new law, including the unpopular individual mandate.
Republican lawmakers have tried to cut off funding to implement the healthcare law, at least until after the Supreme Court decides whether to strike it down. That ruling is expected by June, and oral arguments last week indicated the justices might well overturn at least the individual mandate, if not the whole law.
“While President Obama and his Senate allies continue to spend more tax dollars implementing an unpopular and unworkable law that may very well be struck down as unconstitutional in a matter of months, I’ll continue to stand with the American people who want to repeal this law and replace it with something that will actually address the cost of healthcare,” said Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.), who chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee for healthcare and is in a closely contested Senate race this year.
The Obama administration has plowed ahead despite the legal and political challenges.
It has moved aggressively to get important policies in place. And, according to a review of budget documents and figures provided by congressional staff, the administration is also burning through implementation funding provided in the healthcare law.
The law contains dozens of targeted appropriations to implement specific provisions. It also gave the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) a $1 billion implementation fund, to use as it sees fit. Republicans have called it a “slush fund.” [Emphasis added]
HHS plans to drain the entire fund by September — before the presidential election, and more than a year before most of the healthcare law takes effect. Roughly half of that money will ultimately go to the IRS. [Emphasis added]
HHS has transferred almost $200 million to the IRS over the past two years and plans to transfer more than $300 million this year, according to figures provided by a congressional aide.
The Government Accountability Office has said the transfers are perfectly legal and consistent with how agencies have used general implementation funds in the past. The $1 billion fund was set aside for “federal” implementation activities, the GAO said, and can therefore be used by any agency — not just HHS, where the money is housed.
Still, significant transfers to the IRS and other agencies leave less money for HHS, and the department needs to draw on the $1 billion fund for some of its biggest tasks.