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The admission that the IRS improperly investigated conservative political groups only means more trouble for the roll-out of the health care law.

By Nancy Cook
Updated: May 12, 2013 | 9:05 a.m.
May 10, 2013 | 3:33 p.m.

The Internal Revenue Service’s admission that it inappropriately targeted conservative political groups for special scrutiny during the 2012 presidential election only gives congressional Republicans more ammunition as they try to defund and weaken the agency.

For the past few years, Republican lawmakers have sought to slash the funding of the IRS. Reducing the agency’s budget makes it more difficult for it to collect taxes and audit individuals. (Score one for Republicans who dislike high taxes).

But, more importantly, the IRS is also one of the key agencies that will implement the Affordable Care Act. Much of the funding stream for the incoming health care law, arguably the president’s signature legislative achievement, comes from two tax increases: a 3.8 percent hike on investment income for wealthy individuals, estates, and trusts, as well as an additional Medicare tax.

By stripping the IRS of money, the Republicans are indirectly trying to attack the roll-out of the health care law that begins in 2014.

Now, the news that rogue, low-level IRS agents in Ohio investigated conservative groups improperly just adds fuel to the Republicans’ bashing. The agents investigated these organizations to see if they had miscast themselves as tax-exempt groups while actually doing political work. About 75 groups were targeted, according to the Associated Press.

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