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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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May 21st, 2013
12:06 PM ET

Taking the IRS out of Obamacare

Revelations that the IRS targeted conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status has re-energized the Republican-led fight to repeal Obamacare.

Rep. Tom Price, R-Georgia, told CNN he believes the actions of the IRS are illegal and unconstitutional.

"This is not where the IRS ought to be," said Price. "It's so very troubling that we now have Sarah Hall Ingram, who was running the tax exempt division at that time, now put in charge of the implementation and the enforcement of the president's health care law."

Ingram headed the IRS tax exempt/government entities division from 2009-2012, and now heads the implementation of the Affordable Care Act at the agency under fire since a Treasury Department watchdog reported this month on the targeting of conservative political groups.

Last week, Price and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, introduced legislation in both chambers that would prohibit the IRS from implementing or enforcing any provisions of the politically charged 2010 health care law spearheaded by President Barack Obama.

The bill is called "Keep the IRS Off Your Health Care Act." There are more than 40 provisions the IRS would need to enforce, including a big tax component, a fine, for those who do not comply.

Despite passage of the legislation, a Supreme Court decision upholding the law, and Obama’s convincing re-election, Republicans continue to use Obamacare as a political wedge and rallying cry – especially for the conservative base.

Last Thursday, the GOP-led house voted for the 37th time to eliminate all or parts of the law.

The public could view the IRS hearings, in part, as a Republican effort to undermine or water down the healthcare law.

But Price said the problem should not be viewed through a political lens.

"They shouldn't view it that way, because what we have learned over the past week, and what many suspected over the past couple of years, is that the IRS has already overstepped its bounds, not in small ways, in very, very big ways," Price told CNN.

"When you're talking about your health care, the health care of you and your family, the last entity that you want to see interposed between your doctor and your family is the Internal Revenue Service."

Price is a member of the Tea Party Caucus. The recent IRS controversy has given the tea party a post-scandal bump in the polls, but the conservative group still remains unpopular on a national scale; the last time the tea party had a higher favorable number, rather than unfavorable, was 2010.

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