Wednesday, 15 May 2013 06:35 PM
By Greg Richter
President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that the acting commissioner of the IRS has been asked to resign and has done so over the tax-collecting agency's recent admission that it targeted conservative groups for extra scrutiny.
After reviewing the inspector general's report on Tuesday, Obama called the actions by Internal Revenue Service agents "inexcusable."
"The good news is, it's fixable," he said. "I'll do everything in my power to make sure nothing like this happens again."
"Americans are right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it," Obama said in a four-minute address from the East Room of the White House.
Obama said such actions would not be tolerated in any agency, "but especially in the IRS, given the power that it has and the reach that it has into all of our lives."
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew was tasked with finding out who the responsible parties are, Obama said, and on Wednesday he asked for and accepted the resignation of acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller.
"Given the controversy surrounding this audit it's important to institute new leadership that can help restore confidence going forward," he said.
The president made no mention of other firings, resignations or other punishments by lower-level employees. The initial reports of the scandal blamed low-level agents in the Cincinnati office. Tuesday's IG report blamed bad management.
Obama also vowed to implement safeguards to prevent the actions from ever taking place again. He said he instructed Lew to make sure the IRS begins implementing the IG's recommendations immediately.
Obama said the White House will work "hand-in-hand with Congress to get this thing fixed." He called on both parties in Congress to perform their oversight duties in a way that "does not smack of politics or partisan agendas."
He said it is vital to make sure the laws are clear and without ambiguity to ensure they are enforced in a fair and impartial way.
The IRS admitted last week to targeting for additional scrutiny conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status, such as groups with "tea party" and "patriot" in their names, as well as those that support Israel or have as their mission "making America a better place to live."
The groups applied for 501(c)(4) status as groups that promote "social welfare."
No tea party applications were approved in a 27-month period beginning February 2010, though many applications from liberal and progressive groups were given tax-exempt status during the same period, USA Today reported.
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