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President stands ground against Republican critics

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 16th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Attacked on almost every side over a series of encroaching scandals, U.S. President Barack Obama is standing firm to prevent these issues from overwhelming his second-term agenda. In a televised statement, Obama announced the resignation of the acting Internal Revenue Service director over the persecution of conservative groups. The president described the agency's conduct as "inexcusable," declaring "Americans have a right to be angry about it, and I'm angry about it." An administration official said on Thursday that Obama would appoint a new acting IRS chief this week.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Obama administration is currently weathering three specific scandals that cast a dim light on the presidency: accountability for the IRS targeting conservative, tea party groups, the secret subpoena of journalists' phone records and actions that were and were not taken immediately after last year's Benghazi terrorist attack.

The White House had earlier announced its support for strengthening protections of journalists and confidential sources. This seemingly ran counter to the administration's stated aim. Attorney General Eric Holder simultaneously evaded questions at a congressional hearing about how the Justice Department obtained phone records of The Associated Press from 2012 as part of an investigation of classified leaks.

The White House, in an attempt to mollify critics released more than 100 pages of e-mails sought by GOP critics about the talking points on the September attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans.

"These three events that have gotten so much attention over the last few days -- IRS, AP, Benghazi -- tend to confirm a lot of our worst fears about our government," GOP Sen. Mike Lee of Utah said. "They tend to tell us what we don't want to believe, but that sometimes might be true; that your government's targeting you, that your government's spying on you, and that your government is lying to you."

For his part, House Speaker John Boehner asked "who's going to jail" over the IRS targeting. All 45 GOP senators sent a letter to the White House demanding full compliance in congressional investigations of the controversy.

The letter described the incident as "yet another completely inexcusable attempt to chill the speech of political opponents and those who would question their government, consistent with a broader pattern of intimidation by arms of your administration to silence political dissent."

Obama received no relief from members of his own party as well. Democrats including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada strongly criticized the secret subpoena of AP phone records.

Obama responded that acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller had been forced to resign. Miller had been aware since last year that when he was deputy commissioner, that IRS employees were stonewalling requests from conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, according to the agency.

Obama said politics should never enter the work of the IRS, adding the agency must "operate with absolute integrity." Obama added that he would be working with officials in order to make sure that "this doesn't happen again."

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