July 10, 2012

LePage: Didn't intend to insult anyone with 'Gestapo' comment

By Steve Mistler smistler@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

Many of the emails refer to the hiring of 16,500 IRS agents to enforce the health care law as evidence that the federal government is imposing a punitive law on the public.

The 16,500 figure originated from a 2009 estimate by Republicans on the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, which handles federal tax legislation. The Treasury Department in February released an updated IRS budget request for fiscal year 2012. The request showed that agency is seeking approximately 1,269 employees to implement the health law.

The mandate penalty will be implemented by 2016. Estimates from the Kaiser Family Foundation put the penalty at $695 for each uninsured adult or 2.5 percent of family income. Exemptions will be granted based on financial hardship, religious beliefs and those without coverage for less than three months.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that 4 million people will end up paying the penalty. However, there are questions about how effective the IRS will be collecting penalty amounts due to the law’s strict enforcement limitations. The CBO analysis notes that legal penalties cannot be assessed and the health law does not allow the IRS to seize bank accounts or garnish wages.

The individual mandate was originally a Republican concept derived from the conservative Heritage Foundation, which introduced the measure in 1989 as a counterpoint to Democratic calls for a single-payer health care system.

In 1993, former U.S. Sen. John Chafee, R-R.I., proposed an individual mandate bill signed by 19 Republican co-sponsors as an alternative to President Bill Clinton’s health care overhaul. The proposal failed, as did Clinton’s health care effort.

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