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Judicial Watch: Obama’s IRS Spent $5m Pressuring Americans to Buy ObamaCare

Judicial Watch: Obama’s IRS Spent $5m Pressuring Americans to Buy ObamaCare

“Nudging” law-abiding Americans into purchasing ObamaCare policies

Judicial Watch has obtained via FOIA documents showing that the Obama IRS spent $5 million in taxpayer money to pressure otherwise compliant Americans into buying ObamaCare.

Judicial Watch reports:

Judicial Watch today announced it received two production of documents, 77 pages and 108 pages, from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) revealing the Obama IRS coordinated with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Obama White House Behavioral Sciences “Team” in a $5 million program to pressure Americans to sign up for Obamacare.

The documents also contain inter-agency agreements between the IRS and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) devised to circumvent potential legal prohibitions on unauthorized disclosure or inspection of taxpayer information collected by the IRS.

The documents were produced under court order in an April 2017 Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the IRS and HHS. . . .

According to the documents released to Judicial Watch, the Obama White House’s “Behavioral Sciences Team” advised on the content and structure of the letters.

Judicial Watch continues:

In September 2016, IRS Director of Individual Taxation Janet McCubbin writes to several of her colleagues:

Attached are drafts of the letters that IRS will send to selected taxpayers who paid a penalty for failure to have coverage or who claimed an exemption form the coverage requirement for tax year 2015 … As you know, we are planning to send several different versions of the letter to see which types of messages work best.


These letters have been drafted with input from the White House Behavioral Sciences Team and CMS, and have been approved by CMS. And IRS staff provided a lot of assistance on the PDF.

. . . .  The documents show that the agencies spent at least $5 million to develop the letters ($4,820,702.83 and $179,297.17).

. . . . The documents released by Judicial Watch include letters targeting people who legally refused to sign up for Obamacare and elected to pay the penalty or individuals who claimed an exemption.

The “White House Behavioral Sciences Team” was created to better manipulate Americans into making decisions the White House favored; in this case, it was unleashed on those who chose to pay the fine/tax/penalty or who claimed an exemption from ObamaCare.

If this sounds to you like Eric Holder’s “brainwash people on guns” and Cass Sunstein’s “nudge” theory, you’re not wrong.

Remember this:

Politico reported in 2015 on the establishment of this “behavioral sciences team” via Obama executive order.

For the past year, the Obama administration has been running an experiment: Is it possible to make policy more effective by using psychology on citizens?

The nickname is “nudging”—the idea that policymakers can change people’s behavior just by presenting choices or information differently.

. . . .  Nudging has gained a lot of high-profile advocates, including behavioral-law guru Cass Sunstein and former budget czar Peter Orszag. Not everyone likes the idea—“the behaviorists are saying that you, consumer, are stupid,” said Bill Shughart, a professor of public choice at Utah State University—but President Obama was intrigued enough that he actually hired Sunstein, a law professor at Harvard who co-wrote the best-known book about the topic, “Nudge.”

The president officially adopted the idea last year when he launched the White House’s Social and Behavioral Science Team (SBST), a cross-agency effort to bring behavioral science research into the policymaking process.

The Obama administration apparently weaponized the IRS, arguably the most-feared government agency, by engaging in psy-ops against Americans.

Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton had this to say:  “So now we have more evidence of more Obama IRS abuses targeting innocent Americans – all in the name of Obamacare.  No wonder it took a federal lawsuit and court order to get these documents—as they show the Obama White House and its agencies were happy to threaten and treat Americans like lab rats in order to bolster Obamacare.”


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Sure, that makes sense. I mean that’s what the IRS is for, right? “Marketing” government “services.” Well, that and targeting people who disagree with the prog agenda.

$5 million might seem like a lot of money, but it’s a drop in the bucket of tax dollars that have been pissed away trying to convince people to buy that Obamacare crap. BILLIONS have been wasted “marketing” that BS.

nordic_prince | October 3, 2017 at 1:09 am

I got one of those stupid letters. It nudged me over to the waste basket, but then again I was heading there anyway.

Since when did the Constitution allow the Government to promote itself?

    snopercod in reply to snowshooze. | October 3, 2017 at 6:48 am

    Since when did the government care what the Constitution allows?

      thalesofmiletus in reply to snopercod. | October 3, 2017 at 12:36 pm

      The permanent government cares a great deal about what the unofficial & unwritten constitution says — it’s a combination of the unwritten Democrat party line and whatever they can get away with.

In general, it feels abusive to be taxed to pay not only for government programs, but also for efforts to market these programs to potential beneficiaries.

BUT I still don’t see how it will ever be possible to mandate coverage of pre-existing conditions without also mandated coverage, for without mandated coverage why not just wait until one gets expensively sick before buying insurance?

(Of course, Obamacare’s cross-subsidy of the old and sick by the young and healthy was supposed to be a feature. And perhaps it was for a few days, until those young and healthy realized it was a bad deal.)

notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital | October 3, 2017 at 10:12 am

Sure that’s not $5 Trillion, or $500 Trillion?

The progressive “nudge” culture is the need to extend the rules of day care to adult life. creepy especially when it infests an agency with the power to compel compliance with its edicts by lawfare and by force. Part and parcel of the leftist vision of the people as a faceless, senseless herd to be managed and cajoled by unionized cubicle hamsters. I have zero confidence that this new White House has any grasp of why this practice and the underlying progressive vision so widespread in the agencies is toxic to liberty, much less any interest in ending it.