By John Fritze, The Baltimore Sun
9:23 AM EDT, May 18, 2013
Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland used a rare opportunity to speak on behalf of the Republican Party on Saturday to tie the unfolding IRS scandal to President Barack Obama's 2010 overhaul of the nation's health care system.
Noting that the Internal Revenue Service will be responsible with taxing individuals who fail to obtain health insurance, Harris argued that, "if we've learned anything this week, it's that the IRS needs less power, not more."
Harris, an anesthesiologist, was chosen by Republican leaders to offer the weekly address days after the House of Representatives voted to repeal the health care law, much of which takes effect next year. The GOP-led House has voted more than three dozen times to repeal or cut funding to the law.
It's the first time Harris has been selected to give the address and the opportunity is relatively rare for a second-term member of the House. Eight of the past 15 responses have been offered by House members -- as opposed to senators and governors -- but they are usually members of the Republican leadership.
The address comes after a week in which the White House was forced to fend off criticism about revelations that the IRS applied additional scrutiny on conservative groups that had sought nonprofit status. Ousted IRS head Steven Miller testified about the scandal during a contentious hearing on Capitol Hill on Friday.
"As a matter of fact, it turns out that the IRS official who oversaw the operation that's under scrutiny for targeting conservatives is now in charge of the IRS's ObamaCare office," Harris said in reference to Sarah Hall Ingram, the IRS commissioner who oversaw the office responsible for tax-exempt organizations. "You can't make this stuff up."
Obama used his weekly address to discuss his trip to Baltimore on Friday that was focused on job creation.
"That's why I like getting out of the Washington echo chamber whenever I can -- because too often, our politics aren't focused on the same things you are," the president said. "Working hard. Supporting your family and your community. Making sure your kids have every chance in life."
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