Rep. Tom Price tells Newsmax TV that President Barack Obama "rightly expressed his outrage" over the IRS scandal involving the targeting of conservative groups, but that the president must now follow through with an investigation of the agency.
"Every time I've taken the president at his word I've been disappointed, but I'm pleased to hear what he said, and now we need to see that his action follows his words," Price explained in an exclusive interview on Monday. "That doesn’t happen with any great frequency. But the president rightly expressed his outrage."
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The Republican said that the president must get to the bottom of the scandal.
"What he now needs to do is to find out what happened and then fire the people that were responsible for this and see where it goes," he said. "I believe it goes further on up in his administration and it comes from a top that says that it's okay to criticize your political opponents with reckless abandon. That happens out of the White House with great frequency. So people learn it on down the way."
Price said there are a number of questions that have yet to be answered by the Obama administration.
"What we want to know is who in the IRS made this policy? Who allowed this to happen? To whom did they report?" said Price. "When did they notify the Treasury Department [what] they were doing? When did they notify the White House that they were doing this? Who did they notify? What did they know, and when did they share that information with the president?"
Price agreed with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich that the IRS scandal could be a harbinger of future IRS abuses related to Obamacare since the president's signature healthcare legislation relies on the IRS to enforce a key provision.
"Remember that it's the IRS that is the agency that is supposed to enforce the individual mandate," Price explained. "So for every single American, they have to prove to the IRS — that's why they want 16,000 new IRS agents — that they have health coverage that satisfies the government. That's just wrong. It will have an effect."
He added that he is personally troubled by reports that the agency has been "investigating and holding folks to a higher level of proof, and of standard, just because they are conservatives or just because they are supporting pro-Israel causes or just because they want the teaching of the Constitution in our nation's schools."
Price, who recently announced that he would not make a run for the Senate seat being vacated by Saxby Chambliss, said that he has no immediate plans to endorse one of the three Republicans — Phil Gingrey, Paul Broun, and Jack Kingston — who have announced their intention to make a run for the Georgia seat.
"They're probably all running neck-in-neck, and I don’t think that the field is full yet," he said. "You'll see a number of other individuals jump into this race."
Price said that he supports continued efforts in the House to repeal Obamacare, including a third attempt this week.
"This one's different for a couple of reasons," he said. "We have 35 new members of the House of Representatives on the Republican side that haven't ever voted on this; 45 new members on the Democrat side who were elected in 2012. They've never voted on this so their constituents deserve to know how they stand on this issue, and secondly, there are so many things that have come out on this legislation, on the law of the land as it is right now, that demonstrate that even its supporters — Sen. Rockefeller, Sen. Baucus — are having real reservations about whether or not we ought to move forward."
Price, like many Republicans, advocates "patient-centered healthcare that allows patients and families and doctors to make medical decisions." He noted that the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers recently announced that it supports the repeal of Obamacare.
"As a physician I can tell you the status quo is absolutely unacceptable," Price insisted. "It doesn't work for doctors. It doesn't work for patients. It doesn't work for employers. The law that was passed is even worse and will make things worse from a healthcare standpoint."
Price, who sponsored legislation on durable medical equipment, said that his bill would help solve the problem of patients not being able to get the medical equipment that they need as the federal government narrows the number of providers.
"We ought not have the government in charge of our healthcare," he said. "We need patients and families and doctors in charge — and that's what our bill tries to bring about."
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