An angry President Barack Obama has sacked the acting head of the US Internal Revenue Service over a fast moving scandal sparked when officials unfairly targeted conservative groups.
Obama said Treasury Secretary Jack Lew had asked for and received the resignation of tax agency chief Steven Miller and promised a new system of checks and safeguards to make sure the episode was not repeated.
“Given the controversy surrounding this audit,it’s important to institute new leadership that can help restore confidence going forward,” Obama said yesterday.
The president,who has dismissed Republican attempts to link him to the scandal at the independent IRS agency,also pledged to work directly with Congress as it carries out its oversight duties in the matter. Obama said that evidence of abuses in the tax agency,revealed by a report by a government watchdog released on Tuesday,were “inexcusable.”
“Americans have a right to be angry about it,and I am angry about it. Obama said at the White House,after meeting top Treasury Department officials.
“I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency,but especially in the IRS,” he said. Scandal erupted when it emerged that officials studying tax exempt status applications singled out groups with names including phrases like “Tea Party” or “Patriots,” which could thus be expected to be fiercely opposed to Obama.
Republican congressman Darrell Issa told CNN that Obama had taken a “good first step” and promised a robust congressional probe into the scandal.
“The president will find very willing partners on Capitol Hill,” he said. “I think in this case,we very much take him at his word that he wants to be open and transparent,in fixing the system and putting new controls in place.”
But top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell signaled that the controversy was far from over as his party tries to use itto slow Obama’s political momentum at the beginning of his second term. “These allegations are serious that there was an effort to bring the power of the federal government to bear on those the administration disagreed with,in the middle of a heated national election,” McConnell said. “We are determined to get answers,and to ensure that this type of intimidation never happens again at the IRS or any other agency.”