Politics

Most powerful White House Obamacare official at center of IRS scandal

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Patrick Howley
Political Reporter

The White House official who exchanged confidential taxpayer information with the IRS is a longtime Obama advisor and progressive activist who is currently the most powerful official on Obamacare implementation within the White House.

Jeanne Lambrew, deputy assistant to the president for health policy, entered Obama-world in 2008 as a health-policy adviser to then-Senator Obama’s presidential campaign. She was subsequently named deputy director and then director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) now-defunct Office of Health Reform, where she reported directly to Kathleen Sebelius.

Lambrew’s current “deputy assistant to the president” position, while modest-sounding, gives her extensive and centralized power over the White House’s efforts to implement Obamacare.

“[Lambrew] is also unabashedly liberal – often serving as the architect of her party’s most progressive ideas on healthcare reform,” wrote American Enterprise Institute resident fellow Scott Gottlieb in a March op-ed.

“The few remaining centrists thinkers inside the White House, mostly scattered across the National Economic Council and Treasury, are gone – or largely marginalized when it comes to issues around implementation. The people drafting and reviewing the regulations are mostly centered in the White House and its Domestic Policy Council — and they mostly work for Jeanne Lambrew,” Gottlieb wrote.

“Normally, the Office of Management and Budget and the National Economic Council would be heavily engaged on the issuance of regulations tied to a major law like Obamacare. Not the Obama White House. The economists still play on the fiscal issues related to Medicare and Medicaid. But when it comes to Obamacare implementation, they are not calling the shots. The power is centered on Lambrew,” Gottlieb wrote.

Lambrew exchanged confidential taxpayer information on organizations with IRS official Sarah Hall Ingram and White House health policy advisor Ellen Montz, according to 2012 emails obtained by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and provided to The Daily Caller last week. Ingram attempted to counsel Lambrew and the White House on a lawsuit from religious organizations opposing Obamacare’s contraception mandate.

Lambrew also hosted 155 of Ingram’s 165 White House visits, according to White House visitor logs that were recently taken offline during the government shutdown. The IRS improperly targeted conservative groups for harassment of their tax-exempt applications and abusive audits between 2010 and 2012.

Lambrew previously served as a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, a left-wing Washington think tank headed by former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta.

Podesta credited Lambrew with helping to shape the “foundation” of the progressive health care reform push beginning in 2005, which was eventually realized under Obama despite attempts to “demagogue” the issue by conservatives who believe that “health is a privilege, not a right,” according to Podesta.

Lambrew moderated a June 2008 Center for American Progress panel criticizing Obama opponent John McCain’s health policy.

Among numerous other positions in government and academia, Lambrew worked on health care reform at the Department of Health and Human Services between 1993-94, as First Lady Hillary Clinton led the administration’s disastrous health care reform initiative.

Lambrew has contributed money to the presidential campaigns of John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, and Obama, and to the now defunct George Soros-funded PAC America Coming Together.

“Providing and improving health care for every American may be the current test of our country’s strength of conviction, as was enacting civil rights for all in the 1960s and the creation of the New Deal in the 1930s,” wrote Lambrew, Podesta, and Teresa L. Shaw in 2005.

The White House did not return a request for comment.

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