(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama, whose administration is staving off questions about several controversies, including the IRS-Tea Party investigation and the National Security Agency telephone surveillance offense – said Congress needs to move beyond “phony scandals.”
Speaking at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., on Wednesday, Obama gave the first of what will be several speeches on his economic proposals. He harshly criticized gridlock in Congress and pledged executive action.
“With this endless parade of distractions and political posturing and phony scandals, Washington’s taken its eye off the ball,” Obama said. “And I’m here to say, this needs to stop. This needs to stop.”
“This moment does not require short-term thinking,” said Obama. “It does not require having the same old stale debates. Our focus has to be on the basic economic issues that matter most to you, the people we represent. That’s what we have to spend our time on and our energy on and our focus on.”
Obama said his key focus will be “job security with good wages and durable industries, a good education, a home to call your own, affordable health care when you get sick, a secure retirement even if you’re not rich, reducing poverty, reducing inequality, growing opportunity, that’s what we need.”
He also said he would take executive action.
“Some of these ideas I’ve talked about before. Some of the ideas I offer will be new. Some will require Congress. Some I will pursue on my own,” Obama said.
He later said, “I will welcome ideas from anybody across the political spectrum. But I will not allow gridlock, or inaction nor willful indifference to get in our way. That means whatever executive authority I have to help the middle class, I’ll use it.”
Obama did not specify what he was talking about when he referred to “phony scandals.”
An inspector general’s report in May revealed that the IRS was targeting Tea Party and other conservative groups for extra scrutiny in relation to their tax-exemption applications, a practice that senior administration officials insisted was isolated to “rogue agents” in the IRS Cincinnati office.
Last week, however, two veteran IRS employees testified before Congress that the matter went as high as the IRS chief counsel’s office in Washington, D.C., an office held by one of only two political appointments of the president.
The NSA surveillance of telephone and internet communications revealed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, has raised suspicion and numerous questions by both Republicans and Democrats in Congress and prompted a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union. It also has prompted an inquiry from European Union allies.
Another matter that has not been resolved is the terrorist attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya on Sept. 11, 2012 that ended in the death of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. Last week, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) inquired with the Obama administration as to why survivors of the attack were asked to sign non-disclosure agreements.
Also, during Obama’s first term were the Justice Department’s Fast and Furious gun-walking operation that allowed nearly 2,000 U.S. guns to flow to Mexican drug-trafficking organizations until two of the weapons were found at the murder scene of a U.S. Border Patrol agent. Another major first-term controversy surrounded a $500-million Energy Department loan to the politically-connected solar panel maker Solyndra.
As CNSNews.com reported on July 5, the unemployment rate since Barack Obama was inaugurated in 2009 has been at 7.5% or above – 54 months straight – which is the longest stretch of unemployment at or above that rate since 1948.