It's true, Obamacare designates the IRS as the muscle to collect the tax that is Obamacare and the Democrats’ coddling health-care benevolence. Gee, that must have been in the fine print, but the politics of it is bad and it can be poison. The able deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter of the Obama campaign was dispatched during the Fourth of July holiday to introduce this scripted line and then go hide: Ms. Cutter said of the Obamacare tax, "This is a penalty administered through the tax code." Notice the spokeswoman was not from the Obama government, much less the IRS. That's right, the collection arm of Obamacare is the IRS. Anyway, it isn't hard to imagine that those responsible for collecting your money at the IRS will have some say in whether or not you have to pay and how much. If you pursue health-care options the government doesn't like, you could be hearing from the IRS!
There is an appetite to move this story, but a Republican of questionable judgment instead filled the void by doing what Democrats and the left's elite like for Republicans to do. That is, say something wacky, play to stereotypes, provide a distraction and diminish the entire issue. In this case, the governor of Maine wandered onto the stage on a slow news day, blithered and eclipsed the infinitely more watchable Stephanie Cutter.
But that distraction doesn't void the issue of its shocking relevance to voters and its potential for Mitt Romney. I can see the ads Republicans could run. Think of scenarios where you want to appeal an Obamacare payment, seek a lower payment or ask for a refund (ha!) after a mistake. If you thought dealing with your insurance company was tough, go see the IRS agent assigned to you or spend a while waiting and trying to get through the IRS automated help line. What could go wrong?
The IRS entering your health-care management is a much more salient issue than Romney's foreign bank accounts. Yet President Obama, needing a distraction, is succeeding with this distraction. These bank accounts are not hard to explain, but it can be cumbersome. As we Insiders know, in politics, a bumper sticker beats an essay; yet the issue of Romney’s personal finances can no longer avoid a tedious explanation. Romney needs a good, dry, error-free, lawyerly, completely boring and forgettable, credentialed financial essayist to become part of the campaign to studiously explain these accounts through November. The Bain/personal wealth/foreign accounts story is the best — and maybe only — thing Obama has going against Romney right now. It has to be dealt with, but the problem will be managed, not solved.
Think of someone with a Q rating somewhere between Cutter of the Obama campaign and the freelancing governor of Maine. And hurry.