By Meghashyam Mali - 05/13/13 11:41 AM EDT
2012 GOP presidential contender and former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) on Monday said the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups raised questions about the enactment of the president’s healthcare reform law.
“He [the president] has a huge problem because ObamaCare relies very heavily on the IRS,” said Gingrich on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) would have a key role in implementing many of the taxes and fees, including penalties on those who do not buy insurance, under Obama’s landmark healthcare law.
Gingrich’s comments come after the IRS acknowledged last week that agents were targeting conservative groups, including those with “Tea Party” or “patriot” in their names, for additional scrutiny. A report from a federal watchdog group to be released this week will reveal that top officials were aware of the problem for more than two years, despite public denials to lawmakers.
Gingrich said the IRS targeting scandal would only raise further concerns about the IRS’s role as the administration begins to roll out its health reforms.
“How can you put ObamaCare under an Internal Revenue Service — remember this is an administration that will not profile terrorists but profiles patriots, profiles constitutional groups,” he said. “This is almost madness.”
The agency has apologized, saying that the decisions were made by mid-level career employees in an Ohio office. But lawmakers reacted angrily to the news, with Republicans calling for an investigation and a presidential apology.
"They used key words to go after conservatives," said House Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) on NBC Sunday. "This is something where you have to institute changes to make sure it doesn't happen again.
Gingrich on Monday said Obama would need to act quickly and thoroughly.
“The president needs to say he’s going to open it up totally, he’s going to meet with Congress, go to the hearings, he’s going to fire everybody he can legally fire who’s been involved in this and they’ve got to look at changes,” said Gingrich.
“He also owes every Tea Party in America, every group called ‘patriot,’ every group that wants to study the constitution an apology,” he added.