News / USA

    Controversies Threaten to Derail Obama Agenda

    Controversies Threaten to Derail Obama Agendai
    X
    May 16, 2013 6:45 PM
    Just four months after his inauguration for a second four-year term, President Barack Obama finds himself on the defensive in three controversies that threaten to derail his political agenda. Obama may be on the verge of joining a long list of his predecessors who ran into severe political problems in their second terms in office. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Controversies Threaten to Derail Obama Agenda
    Just four months after his inauguration for a second four-year term, President Barack Obama finds himself on the defensive in three controversies that threaten to derail his political agenda. Obama may be on the verge of joining a long list of his predecessors who ran into severe political problems in their second terms in office.

    Analysts say the most serious threat to the president at the moment is the budding scandal involving the Internal Revenue Service, the government’s tax-collecting agency.

    The IRS has admitted officials targeted conservative Tea Party groups seeking tax exempt status. Obama tried to keep ahead of the scandal by announcing the resignation of acting IRS chief Steven Miller.

    “It is inexcusable, and Americans are right to be angry about it and I am angry about it. I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but especially in the IRS,” said Obama.

    IRS issue draws ire

    The revelations about the IRS have outraged Republicans in Congress and they are promising a full round of investigations.

    Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate Republican leader, said, “Now clearly, we have only started to scratch the surface of this scandal. The American people are looking for answers and I am determined to help them get to the bottom of this.”

    The IRS scandal is one of three controversies that have enmeshed the Obama White House.

    The administration remains on the defensive over its handling of the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, last year that claimed the lives of four Americans.

    And the Justice Department is being pressed to justify the secret seizure of phone records from the Associated Press in connection with a leak investigation.

    It is the prospect that the IRS targeted Americans for their political views, however, that sparked a strong reaction from across the political spectrum, said analyst John Fortier.

    “And so that I think that is what makes it just stick much more in the craw of the American people [upset them], both that it is not a very popular organization, but also it is one that people know that it has significant information that could redound upon them and they would not want to see it done to them,” said Fortier.

    Remaining effective

    The scandals are a distraction for the president, said Fortier, but not necessarily crippling.

    “The agenda that he has now is one that has to get the agreement of both parties, and I think the scandal might be somewhat broadly hurtful to him but is not going to damage him if both parties see some value in working together on some of these issues,” he said.

    Fortier adds that one of those issues that still may draw bipartisan support is immigration reform.

    Obama may be about to join a long line of predecessors, though, who ran into trouble in their second terms, said former Reagan White House chief of staff Ken Duberstein.

    “Every presidency goes into a ditch, usually in the fifth or sixth year. And if you do not have the trusted relationships in the House and the Senate or with the American people, then you do not have any safety net to fall back on.”

    Duberstein notes that all recent two-term presidents - Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush - experienced either scandals or political setbacks in their second terms.

    Jim Malone

    Jim Malone has served as VOA’s National correspondent covering U.S. elections and politics since 1995. Prior to that he was a VOA congressional correspondent and served as VOA’s East Africa Correspondent from 1986 to 1990. Jim began his VOA career with the English to Africa Service in 1983.

    You May Like

    US, Somalia Launch New Chapter in Relations

    US sends first ambassador to Somalia in 25 years; diplomatic presence and forces pulled out in 1993, after 18 US soldiers were killed when militiamen shot down military helicopter

    Brexit Vote Ripples Across South Asia

    Experts say exit is likely to have far-reaching economic, political and social implications for a region with deep historic ties to Britain

    Russian Military Tests Readiness With Snap Inspections

    Some observers see surprise drill as tit-for-tat response to NATO’s recent multinational military exercises in Baltic region

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Eddie
    May 16, 2013 5:04 PM
    On the IRS scandal, I'm suspicious of Harry Reids' assertion that Romney hasn't paid taxes in 10 years. And why is Obama suggesting that we don't need an "Independent Agency" to investigate the IRS ? Something smells really bad here ...

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapides’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora