By U.S. Senator Deb Fischer
Far too often, the federal government has been in the business of picking winners and losers, rather than promoting a fair playing field. We’ve watched the president unilaterally delay and rewrite parts of ObamaCare for big businesses and special interests. Meanwhile, millions of Americans across the country continue to face the law’s devastating impacts, including skyrocketing health care costs, cancelled plans, and more limited care options.
After the administration issued nearly two dozen ObamaCare delays for a select few, I was surprised to hear Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recently state that the administration lacks the statutory authority to delay the law’s individual mandate. Though there was little concern for legal authority before, I am more than happy to provide the administration with clear legal authority to further delay ObamaCare.
That’s why I introduced legislation to address this imbalance – the FAIR Act. The bill provides relief for all Americans by delaying the law’s individual mandate penalty each time the White House issues a delay of the employer mandate. I believe hardworking individuals and families suffering under ObamaCare should be given the same treatment the president has already afforded to his political allies.
I am also working to stop the president from working around Congress through executive action. The president has a responsibility to abide by the Constitution he swore to protect and defend – that means faithfully executing our nation’s laws. However, this administration’s unprecedented level of overreach and use of executive orders undermines this sworn duty.
I am cosponsoring the ENFORCE Act, introduced by Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), which would push back against executive overreach and ensure the president upholds his constitutional obligation to carry out the law. The bill establishes a procedure permitting Congress to authorize a lawsuit against the executive branch for any failure to faithfully execute laws passed by Congress. Simply put, it restores our system of checks and balances.
I’m also continuing to push for fairness and accountability at the IRS. This agency has an extraordinary amount of influence on the lives of all Americans. Citizens have the absolute right to expect the IRS to enforce our nation’s tax code in an unbiased manner free from political influence. Unfortunately, the IRS’s abuse of power in targeting conservative organizations showed our expectations are very different from reality.
I recently introduced The Stop IRS Overreach Act, which states that the IRS shall not ask any taxpayer any question regarding their religious, political or social beliefs. This is a pretty straightforward concept – an authentically American concept. It shouldn’t matter who you are or what you believe – all Americans should be treated equally before the law. There’s absolutely no reason why the taxman should question your beliefs.
To increase transparency and responsiveness, I’ve introduced the Taxpayer Accountability Act. Every year, taxpayers and their accountants write the IRS asking for additional information regarding their taxes. Often, they never even hear back from the IRS. Part of the problem is that the IRS is not required to respond to taxpayer communication. However, taxpayers are compelled to respond to the IRS when the agency seeks information. This is a double standard.
The bill I introduced would require the IRS to respond to communication from any taxpayer within 30 days of receiving such correspondence. It also makes clear that when the IRS begins an audit on any individual taxpayer, it must be completed in one year. Taxpayers shouldn’t be left waiting indefinitely – it impacts their businesses and financial decisions.
I believe government should never be in the game of picking winners and losers, or imposing unfair policies. Instead, it should observe the constitutional right of all Americans to equality before the law.