BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
Shock and a certain level of disillusionment marked what U.S. Rep. Phil Roe said have been three major ways the federal government has broken trust with the American people in the past year.
Roe, R-1st, of Johnson City, spoke to area news media during a conference call on Thursday prior to returning to the U.S. House of Representatives to vote once again on a bill calling for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as ObamaCare.
Roe, who practiced as a gynecologist and obstetrician for many years and now co-chairs the Doctors Caucus in the House of Representatives, expressed his distaste for the ACA and the role it proposes for the Internal Revenue Service.
"The IRS is going to be the ones to look at your health insurance to decide if it's adequate," Roe said. "Do you want these people to look at your private health information? I don't."
The IRS has recently made national headlines with the discovery that the federal agency targeted certain conservative groups for increased scrutiny in recent years.
"The IRS issue that occurred floored me -- absolutely floored me," Roe said.
"When you find out ... you have an administration that uses an arm of government to strong-arm people who oppose them ... that is a very dangerous road to be on.
"It was an incredible abuse of power. All of us fear the IRS," he added, noting the concern everyone has in trying to be fully accurate in filing annual income taxes.
"Up to 500 different organizations may have been targeted," Roe said. "People have known about it here in D.C. for two years!"
"We all have a healthy angst about government agencies, government getting too big," Roe said. "This just confirms that fear."
Benghazi is yet another example of government failure, Roe said, in that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, who functioned as the administration's spokesperson immediately following the attack,failed to drop her "talking points" and acknowledge the Sept. 11, 2012 event as an attack.
Roe recalled his own time serving with the U.S. armed forces in South Korea, and his confidence that he would not be left behind.
"We don't leave people behind, and we did that in Benghazi," he said. "We abandoned those people. It's wrong.
"It's an act of war against the U.S. government, and guess what? We haven't apprehended anybody yet for those crimes."
WIRETAPPING OF AP
Finally, Roe pointed to the recent reports that the Justice Department wiretapped the Associated Press and its journalists for two months last year.
Roe said these reports are "as chilling as any" and that such tactics are an invasion into Americans' basic constitutional rights.
"The other things we're arguing are policy. This is function," the congressman said.
"We have to trust that our government is obeying the law; right now it appears they're not."