The XX Factor

In Which I Explain to My Conservative Relatives That the IRS Won’t Take Away Their Health Care

Michele Bachmann

Photo by MICHAEL MATHES/AFP/Getty Images

Rep. Michele Bachmann is always happy to spread whatever garbled rightwing conspiracy theory is trending. Her ravings are often a wall of meaningless paranoid noise, better ignored than engaged with. Still, her latest rant, reported by Atlantic Wire, deserves a little attention, because she’s inadvertently hurting conservatives in her stampede to paint all Democrats as genocidal hell beasts. 

Here’s her theory, with each high-level-conspiracy bolded. The House Oversight Committee’s hearings on Benghazi spooked the White House so much that they decided to take advantage of “a Friday dump day” (Bachmann’s words) to “confess to such a flagrant misuse of politics and power” (World Net Daily’s) as the IRS investigation of Tea Party groups. But what really worries Bachmann is that the IRS, which is largely responsible for administration of Obamacare, will use its new-found partisanship to “deny or delay access to health care” for conservatives.

According to WND, Bachmann said, “It now is an entirely reasonable question for the American people to ask: Will Obamacare be so politicized and misused?” In other words, she’s running around scaring conservatives by telling them that the IRS will be targeting conservatives and denying them their health care benefits. How they will do this is not explained, but I’m guessing she’s implying that the IRS will be monitoring insurance claims now. (They will not. The IRS’s only role in Obamacare is to levy a tax on those who don’t have health insurance.) Those of us in the reality-based community who have friends and family that have been sucked into the Fox News/Drudge vortex know what this means: More panic-based communications where our loved ones insist they’re about to lose their health care coverage and we have to explain patiently that they are going to be just fine. We will try to be patient and not angrily insist that it’s ludicrous to claim that legislation that’s supposed to get Americans into health insurance plans is actually a secret plot to take away health insurance, but it won’t be easy. 

I beg of you, right wing pundits and politicians, cut it out. You may not believe your own nonsense, but sadly, your audience does. When you tell them the evil black President is going to take away their health care, they don’t just chuckle knowingly and pass along the rumor. No, they often freak out, understandably. Not having health insurance is scary. That’s why it was so critical to pass legislation to make sure people have it. 

We all know how the game is played at this point: Conservatives invent half-baked conspiracy theories and faux scandals to get all bent out of shape about, in order to rustle up votes they couldn’t get with a sober-minded examination of policy differences between the parties. Birds got to fly, fish got to swim, etc. But for the love of Reagan, could you do that without causing your own people to fear for their very lives? These folks give you their time, their money and their votes. The least you can do for them is not cause them to stress out for no good reason.