The Times West Virginian

Headline News

May 17, 2013

Obama acts, but Republicans unsatisfied

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama, seeking to regain his footing amid controversies hammering the White House, named a temporary chief for the scandal-marred Internal Revenue Service Thursday and pressed Congress to approve new security money to prevent another Benghazi-style terrorist attack.

The efforts did little to satisfy Republicans, who see the controversies as an opportunity to derail Obama’s second-term agenda. House Speaker John Boehner suggested the White House had violated the public’s trust, and he promised to “stop at nothing” to hold the administration accountable.  

“Nothing dissolves the bonds between the people and their government like the arrogance of power here in Washington,” Boehner said. “And that’s what the American people are seeing today from the Obama administration — remarkable arrogance.”

The targeting of conservative political groups by the IRS and new questions about the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, last year — along with the Justice Department’s seizure of journalists’ phone records — have consumed the White House for nearly a week. Of the three controversies, the president’s advisers see the IRS matter as the most likely to linger. At least three congressional committees are planning investigations into the agency that touches the lives of nearly every American.

Obama, who was criticized by both opponents and allies for his measured initial response to the IRS targeting, vowed to ensure the agency acts “scrupulously and without even a hint of bias.”

“I think we’re going to be able to fix it,” he declared during a joint news conference with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Soon afterward, Obama appointed senior budget official Danny Werfel to temporarily run the IRS, one day after Acting Commissioner Steven Miller’s forced resignation. The White House is expected to nominate a permanent commissioner later this year.

However, the president knocked down the prospect of appointing a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS, saying the congressional investigations and a separate Justice Department probe should be enough to nail down who was responsible for improperly targeting tea party groups when they applied for tax-exempt status.

Obama and Erdogan were questioned during a light but steady rain during Thursday’s outdoor event. As the rain picked up, the president summoned a pair of Marine guards to provide umbrellas for Erdogan and himself, joking, “I’ve got a change of suits, but I don’t know about our prime minister.”

The news conference marked Obama’s first comments on the government’s widely criticized seizure of telephone records of reporters and editors of The Associated Press in an investigation of news leaks. The president spoke of the importance of striking a balance between “secrecy and the right to know” but said he would make no apologies for trying to protect classified information that could put Americans at risk.

“I’ve still got 60,000-plus troops in Afghanistan, and I’ve still got a whole bunch of intelligence officers around the world who are in risky situations,” he said. “Part of my job is to make sure that we’re protecting what they do, while still accommodating for the need for information.”

The president said he continues to have confidence in Attorney General Eric Holder, who has been the target of intense criticism from lawmakers after the phone record subpoenas were made public.  

The IRS and Justice Department controversies have coincided with a revival in the GOP-led investigations into the September attacks in Benghazi, which claimed the lives of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans.

Obama, who angrily cast the investigations as a “sideshow” earlier this week, tried to turn the focus Thursday to Congress. He urged lawmakers to provide more money to strengthen security at U.S. diplomatic missions around the world.

“We need to come together and truly honor the sacrifice of those four courageous Americans and better secure our diplomatic posts around the world,” Obama said. “That’s how we learn the lessons of Benghazi. That’s how we keep faith with the men and women who we send overseas to represent America.”

The State Department is seeking about $1.4 billion for increased security; the money would come primarily from funds that haven’t been spent in Iraq. It would include $553 million for 35 more Marine Security Guard units, $130 million for 155 diplomatic security agents and $376 million for security upgrades and construction at new embassies.

Since the attack, Democrats have complained that Republicans cut $300 million from the Obama administration’s budget request of $2.6 billion for diplomatic and embassy security in 2012.

Congressional Republicans held new hearings on the Benghazi attacks last week, and a congressional official also released details of emails that GOP lawmakers said suggested an administration effort to downplay the prospect of terrorism in the election year attacks. The White House, which has long disputed allegations of a cover-up, released 100 pages of documents Wednesday in an effort to put an end to protracted controversy.

However, the release of the emails didn’t quiet the GOP furor on Capitol Hill, and investigations continued to move ahead. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said that while he applauded the release of “hand-picked emails,” the White House should release all the unclassified emails.

“I want all the documents released,” said Chaffetz, who also made clear that the committee wanted to talk to more current and former administration officials.

———

Associated Press writers David Espo and Donna Cassata contributed to this report.

———

Follow Julie Pace at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC

 

1
Text Only
Headline News
  • Senate changes House bill for highway funds

    The Senate on Tuesday voted to change the funding and timing of a House bill to keep federal highway funds flowing to states in an effort to force Congress to come to grips with chronic funding problems that have plagued transportation programs in recent years.

    July 29, 2014

  • State close to national average in credit card debt

    Credit card debt may have reached its lowest level in a decade, but according to a recent study on personal debt vs. income, just as more people are paying off their credit card debt monthly, nearly the same number of people are being reported for unpaid bills.

    July 29, 2014

  • New VA secretary confirmed by Senate

    The Senate on Tuesday unanimously confirmed former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald as the new Veterans Affairs secretary, with a mission to overhaul an agency beleaguered by long veterans’ waits for health care and VA workers falsifying records to cover up delays.

    July 29, 2014

  • W.Va. man arrested after child found in hot car

    A Wheeling man faces charges that he left his 18-month-old daughter in a hot car while he was asleep on a couch.

    July 29, 2014

  • Board to meet on dangerous animals list

    CHARLESTON (AP) — A board tasked with compiling a list of animals that are illegal to keep as pets in West Virginia will consider one that’s shorter than a list suggested earlier.

    July 28, 2014

  • Clinton impeachment shadows GOP lawsuit against Obama

    The last time Republicans unleashed impeachment proceedings against a Democratic president, they lost five House seats in an election they seemed primed to win handily.

    July 28, 2014

  • Study: Fist bumps less germy than handshakes

    When it comes to preventing the spread of germs, maybe the president is on to something with his fondness for fist bumps.

    July 28, 2014

  • Obama Exporting Pollu_time.jpg ‘Not in my backyard’: U.S. sending dirty coal abroad

    As  the Obama administration weans the U.S. off dirty fuels blamed for global warming, energy companies have been sending more of America’s unwanted energy leftovers to other parts of the world where they could create even more pollution.
    This fossil fuel trade threatens to undermine President Barack Obama’s strategy for reducing the gases blamed for climate change and reveals a little-discussed side effect of countries acting alone on a global problem. The contribution of this exported pollution to global warming is not something the administration wants to measure, or even talk about.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • U.S.: Russia fired rockets into Ukraine

    Stepping up pressure on Moscow, the U.S. on Sunday released satellite images it says show that rockets have been fired from Russia into neighboring eastern Ukraine and that heavy artillery for separatists has crossed the border.
    The images, which came from the U.S. Director of National Intelligence and could not be independently verified by The Associated Press, show blast marks where rockets were launched and craters where they landed. Officials said the images show heavy weapons fired between July 21 and July 26 — after the July 17 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

    July 28, 2014

  • Plan to simplify health renewals may backfire

    If you have health insurance on your job, you probably don’t give much thought to each year’s renewal. But make the same assumption in one of the new health law plans, and it could lead to costly surprises.
    Insurance exchange customers who opt for convenience by automatically renewing their coverage for 2015 are likely to receive dated and inaccurate financial aid amounts from the government, say industry officials, advocates and other experts.
    If those amounts are too low, consumers could get sticker shock over their new premiums. Too high, and they’ll owe the tax man later.

    July 28, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads