Archives for News

Obama approval rating remains pretty much the same

The economy is recovering, the White House is dealing with multiple controversies, and President Barack Obama appears generally unaffected either way. Several recent polls show the president sustaining an overall approval rating around 50 percent, with no major uptick from gains in housing, jobs and the stock market, and no downtick from the recent storms over the terror attack in Benghazi, Libya, the targeting of conservative groups by the IRS and a leak investigations that has swept up the phone records of Associated Press journalists. The data suggests the economy could be insulating Obama from the immediate troubles confronting his
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Obama’s national security speech looks at drones, Gitmo

President Barack Obama on Thursday is expected to address some of the thornier aspects of national security policy, including drone strikes, the prison at Guantanamo Bay and the dire threats Americans continue to face — even from fellow citizens. On the eve of the president’s speech at the National Defense University, the Obama administration revealed for the first time that a fourth American citizen had been killed in secretive drone strikes abroad. The killings of three other Americans in counterterror operations since 2009 were known before a letter from Attorney General Eric Holder to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy
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House set to vote on varible-rate student loans

House lawmakers are ready to pass legislation that links student loan rates to the financial markets in spite of a veto threat from President Barack Obama. Supported by Republicans, the bill would avoid a rate increase for students with new subsidized Stafford loans if lawmakers pass it, as expected, on Thursday. Democrats generally opposed the measure, which would provide some students a deal in the first years of the new system before ratcheting up interest rates later. “As the economy continues to recover and at a time when market interest rates are at historic lows, more than 7 million students
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Former IRS boss pleads ignorance on targeting of right-wing groups

The man who led the Internal Revenue Service when it was giving extra scrutiny to tea party and other conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status told Congress on Tuesday that he knew little about what was happening while he was still commissioner. Douglas Shulman, who vacated his position last November when his five-year term expired, told the Senate Finance Committee he didn’t learn all the facts until he read last week’s report by a Treasury inspector general confirming the targeting strategy. In his first public remarks since the story broke, Shulman said: “I agree this is an issue that when someone
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Star witness will take the fifth in IRS hearing

  A House committee taking Congress’ latest look at the Internal Revenue Service‘s mistreatment of tea party groups will apparently have to do so without input from the star witness. IRS official Lois Lerner will invoke her constitutional right to not answer questions on Wednesday at a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing, her lawyer told the panel in a letter. Lerner triggered the recent IRS uproar at a legal conference nearly two weeks ago, when she revealed that the agency had subjected tea party and other conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status to extra scrutiny during parts of the
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Immigration bill headed to full Senate

A far-reaching bill to remake the nation’s immigration system is headed to the full Senate, where tough battles are brewing on gay marriage, border security and other contentious issues, with the outcome impossible to predict. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the measure 13-5 Tuesday night, setting up an epic showdown on the Senate floor after Congress’ Memorial Day recess. The legislation is one of President Barack Obama’s top domestic priorities — yet it also gives the Republican Party a chance to recast itself as more appealing to minorities. Many involved still vividly recall the last time the Senate took up
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A Weiner returns to politics to run for New York City Mayor

Two years after resigning from Congress in a lewd photo scandal, former U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner announced in a video message early on Wednesday he is running for New York City mayor. “I made some big mistakes and I know I let a lot of people down, but I also learned some tough lessons,” Weiner said in the video. “I’m running because I’ve been fighting for the middle class and those struggling to make it my entire life.” The announcement promises to shake up the race to replace Mayor Michael Bloomberg nearly four months before the September 10 Democratic primary,
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Senior White House aides knew about IRS targeting

White House chief of staff Denis McDonough and other senior advisers knew in late April that an impending report was likely to say the IRS had inappropriately targeted conservative groups, President Barack Obama’s spokesman disclosed Monday, expanding the circle of top officials who knew of the audit beyond those named earlier. But McDonough and the other advisers did not tell Obama, leaving him to learn about the politically perilous results of the internal investigation from news reports more than two weeks later, officials said. The Treasury Department also told the White House twice in the weeks leading up to the
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Former IRS chief set for grilling on Capitol Hill

Lawmakers are getting their first chance to question the former head of the Internal Revenue Service, the man who ran the agency when agents were improperly targeting tea party groups. Some of the questions on Tuesday will be direct: What did you know, and when did you know it? They also want to know why former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman didn’t tell Congress that agents had been singling out conservative political groups for additional scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status — even after he was briefed. Shulman, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, left the IRS in
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A muddled history of media probes by government

It was a rare moment in relations between the media and the government: In 2008, FBI Director Robert Mueller called the top editors at The New York Times and The Washington Post to apologize because the bureau had improperly obtained reporters’ telephone records four years earlier. The extraordinary call was an admission that the FBI’s actions violated Justice Department policy about seeking journalists’ phone records. But nothing about what the FBI did in 2004 appeared to run afoul of any law. The Justice Department’s latest effort to examine whom journalists are talking to — the secret subpoena of Associated Press
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