Barack Obama

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Barack Hussein Obama
Official portrait of Barack Obama.jpg
44th President of the United States
In office
January 20, 2009 - Present
Term ends
Years in position 6
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 6, 2012
First electedNovember 4, 2008
Term limits2 (4 year terms)
Prior offices
United States Senator
Illinois state Senator
High schoolPunahou Academy
Bachelor'sColumbia University
J.D.Harvard University Law School
Date of birthAugust 4, 1961
Place of birthHonolulu, HI
ProfessionPolitician, Lawyer
Office website
Campaign website
Barack Hussein Obama II (b. August 4, 1961, in Honolulu, HI) is currently the 44th President of the United States. He was first elected November 4, 2008, and was sworn in January of 2009. Obama successfully won election to a second term on November 6, 2012.[1]

Previously, he served as the junior United States Senator from Illinois and was the nominee of the Democratic Party in the 2008 presidential election. He is the first African American to win enough support for the nomination of any major American political party and became the first African American president in the United States.


Born on August 4, 1961, to a Kenyan father and an American mother, he spent most of his childhood and adolescent years in Honolulu, Hawaii. His parents separated when he was an infant and divorced before he turned three. At age six, he moved to Jakarta, Indonesia, where he lived with his mother and Indonesian stepfather for four years. At age ten, Obama was sent back to Hawaii to live with his grandparents. He attended Punahou Academy and graduated with honors in 1979.[2] Obama's father, Barack Obama, Sr., died in a car accident in Kenya in 1982. His mother, Ann Dunham, died of ovarian cancer in 1995.[3]

Obama graduated from Columbia University in 1983 and earned his law degree from Harvard University in 1991.[3] While interning with Sidley & Austin in 1989, he met Michelle Robinson the two began dating.[2] He helped organize voter registration drives during the Clinton campaign, lectured at the University of Chicago law school and practiced law after graduating. As a civil rights lawyer, he tried cases dealing with discrimination, voters' rights and community organizers. In 1995 he published his autobiography titled Dreams from My Father. He and Robinson married on October 3, 1992.[3]

He was elected to the Illinois Senate in 1997 and served until 2004.[4] Following an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000, he announced his campaign for U.S. Senate in January 2003. After winning a landslide primary victory in March 2004 to become the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, Obama delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in July 2004. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in November 2004 with 70% of the vote.[2]

He announced his candidacy for the United States presidency in February 2007 and defeated Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary before defeating John McCain in the presidential election in 2008. He was sworn in as the first African-American president on January 20, 2009. Obama then ran for re-election in 2012, defeating Mitt Romney. He was sworn in for his second term on January 21, 2013.[2]


Below is an abbreviated outline of Obama's academic, professional and political career:[2][3][5]

Committee assignments

U.S. Senator


Obama served on the following committees:[6]


Obama served on the following committees:[7]


Presidential administration

Secret Service security breaches

See also: Secret Service security breaches, September 2014

Director of the U.S. Secret Service Julia Pierson resigned from office on October 1, 2014, following congressional hearings about Secret Service security breaches in September 2014.[8][9] An Iraq veteran, Omar Gonzalez, armed with a pocket knife, scaled the White House fence on September 19, 2014, and proceeded to get past five levels of security, including crossing the lawn, entering the unlocked front door, and reaching the East Room before being arrested by Secret Service.[10] At hearings, Pierson acknowledged the failure in service but denied any further security breaches in 2014. However, the Washington Examiner reported shortly after the hearing that days prior to the incident a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention contract security officer was allowed on an elevator with President Obama while carrying a firearm which is against Secret Service protocol.[11]

In another incident, happening in 2011, a gunman, Oscar R. Ortega-Hernandez, fired on the White House residence from his nearby vehicle, drawing attention of the Secret Service, but a Secret Service supervisor advised the agents to stand down and called the gunfire the back-firing of a car. The incident wasn't investigated until four days later, after which the gunman was apprehended.[12]

West African Ebola outbreak

President Barack Obama addressed the nation about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa on September 16, 2014.
See also: West African Ebola outbreak, 2014

An outbreak of the Ebola virus began in West Africa in early 2014, after which it spread to multiple countries. Following a briefing by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on September 16, 2014, President Obama announced the assignment of 3,000 military medical and logistical personnel to West Africa in order to prevent any further spreading of the virus. In addition to the military aid, he promised an "air bridge," of open transportation between the affected area and the United States through which supplies could be sent to West Africa.[13] The administration also planned the building of 17 hospitals of 100 beds each to be used to treat more patients and agreed to train more medical care professionals as well as the local populations on what to do with infected patients.[14] The administration also provided $500 million to the containment of the virus.[15]

CIA interrogation tactics report

Portions of an investigation of the interrogation methods of the CIA after September 11, 2001, were made public on July 30, 2014, while the full report was released on December 9, 2014.[16] The 6,300 page report found that former Secretary of State Colin Powell and many U.S. ambassadors abroad were not initially told of harsh interrogation tactics being used on potential terrorists at "black sites" in foreign countries. Powell was eventually informed of the tactics and sat in on meetings during which they were discussed. President Bush, who defended the CIA's tactics, was not originally informed of the interrogation methods until 2006.[17] During a weekly press conference on August 1, 2014, prior to the release of the official report, President Barack Obama acknowledged that the U.S. had "tortured some folks."[18] The release of the report detailed numerous incidents where the CIA used interrogation techniques that fell outside the scope of the U.S. Department of Justice. The techniques used included: slapping, humiliation, confinement, stress positions, sleep deprivation and waterboarding.[19]

The White House accidentally released a list of talking points to the Associated Press while preparing for the public release of the report. Among the statements, was one proposed by the State Department, claiming, "This report tells a story of which no American is proud. But it is also part of another story of which we can be proud. America’s democratic system worked just as it was designed to work in bringing an end to actions inconsistent with our democratic values." The talking points also posed questions that the administration might face following the report's release, including, "Will the Justice Department revisit its decision not to prosecute anyone?"[20] After the official release of the document, President Obama emphasized that the techniques previously used must not be condoned. He however remained ambiguous as to whether the CIA should be held accountable for having potentially mislead outsiders.“Rather than another reason to refight old arguments, I hope that today’s report can help us leave these techniques where they belong — in the past,” Obama said in the White House statement.[21]

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) wrote a letter to President Barack Obama arguing that too much of the document was redacted by the administration, including key points to the committee's findings. In her letter, she claimed, "I have concluded the redactions eliminate or obscure key facts that support the report’s findings and conclusions. Until these redactions are addressed to the committee’s satisfaction, the report will not be made public." According to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the administration redacted about 15 percent of the 6,000 page document.[22] Feinstein however pushed for the report to be released after the general election on November 4, 2014. The International Business Times reported that Feinstein was pressured to release the report since her position as chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Intelligence was likely to diminish when Republicans would gain senate majority.[23]

Shooting in Ferguson, Missouri

See also: Shooting in Ferguson, Missouri

Michael Brown, an 18-year-old resident of the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, was shot and killed by a police officer on August 9, 2014. Brown and a friend reportedly got into an altercation with a police officer, Darren Wilson, who fired his weapon on Brown. Attorney General Eric Holder announced a federal investigation into the matter on August 11, 2014. Riots and violence from Ferguson citizens began the night of August 10, 2014, and persisted for over a week.[24] President Obama called for peace in Ferguson following the fourth day of rioting and protests in the streets.[25] On August 18, 2014, he met with Holder and decided to send Holder to Ferguson to look into the incident and ongoing problems.[26] He did not rule out a personal visit after the violence subsided.[27]

2014 illegal immigration surge

See also: 2014 illegal immigration surge

The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act delayed the deportation of unaccompanied minors crossing the border in order to protect them from traffickers.[28] Other factors argued by lawmakers included increased gang violence in Central America, as well as claims that the administration has been enforced immigration laws too lightly.[29] As of June 2014, it was estimated that 52,000 unaccompanied minors have entered into the program since October 2013. The process can take months or even years for the children to be given asylum or be reunited with their families.[28]

Detention center increase
U.S.-Mexico border
On June 20, 2014, Obama released a plan to increase the amount of detention centers, use more ankle bracelets to track immigrants waiting for hearings and shift more immigration judges to southern Texas in order to speed up the hearings process.[29] The same day, Vice President Joe Biden met with the leaders of Central American countries to discuss plans to slow the surge. While the White House announced it would provide Guatemala with $40 million to mitigate gang violence and $25 million to El Salvador to start youth programs for those pressured by gang violence, Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina suggested, "I proposed to the Vice-President the possibility of considering temporary work programs, which would allow (Guatemalans) to go for a time and return." An unnamed U.S. official claimed that the administration's message to those seeking entry into the U.S. legally was increasing, "'Don't come.' And if you think you're coming and once you're here you won't be returned, that's not the case. You're not going to be able to stay."[30]

Democratic lawmakers showed concern over the administration's response to what Obama called a "humanitarian crisis." A spokesperson for Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) insisted Gutierrez, "does not support the idea of putting children and families fleeing violence in detention while they await our courts to catch up to the current crisis."[29] On the other hand, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) argued in a letter to Obama that the National Guard could assume the duty of handling undocumented children crossing the border freeing up Border Patrol to focus on guarding the boundary. He stated in his letter, "While we understand that many of these individuals are coming to this country to escape violence and hardship in their home country, the current climate along the border and our enforcement policies are only encouraging them to risk their lives and those of their children."[29]

Executive order

Having failed to get legislation through Congress, Obama stated on June 30, 2014, that he would use the power of the executive order to achieve his intended goals on immigration if action were not taken. He insisted, "While I will continue to push House Republicans to drop the excuses and act — and I hope their constituents will, too — America cannot wait forever for them to act."[31] On July 19, 2014, Rep. Gutierrez announced at a speech in Los Angeles, California, that he believed Obama would sign an executive order in the coming months that would grant legal status to millions of immigrants.[32]

Due to the House's continued failure to pass a bill, President Obama was expected to issue an executive order in August 2014. Possible order that would be issued included granting working visas to many illegal immigrants, easing the pressure on immigration courts, expanding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or reordering the deportation priority list.[33]

On July 31, 2014, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) claimed that if President Obama used an executive order to carry out immigration reform, he would set his "legacy of lawlessness" in stone. Boehner stated, "He’ll be sacrificing the integrity of our laws on the altar of political opportunity, and I can guarantee you the American people would hold him to account,” he told reporters. “The actions he’s threatening to take are not about policy. They’re about politics."[34]

President Obama announced on September 6, 2014, that he would delay any executive actions on immigration until after the November 4, 2014 elections in order to keep the issue from being politicized as a campaign issue.[35] Obama explained, "The truth of the matter is – is that the politics did shift midsummer because of that problem. I want to spend some time, even as we’re getting all our ducks in a row for the executive action, I also want to make sure that the public understands why we’re doing this, why it’s the right thing for the American people, why it’s the right thing for the American economy."

Funding increase request

On July 9, 2014, Obama requested a $3.7 billion budget increase in order to carry out the administration's plan to create new detention centers and speed up the hearings process. A spokesman for Boehner suggested, "The speaker still supports deploying the National Guard to provide humanitarian support in the affected areas — which this proposal does not address."[36] However, in a closed meeting with House Republicans, Boehner urged action on the bill prior to the August recess.[37]

Refugee status extension

The White House announced the consideration of a proposal allowing for citizens of Honduras, where many unaccompanied minors are illegally migrating from due to gang violence, to file for refugee status on July 24, 2014. The ability to file as a refugee would prevent migrants from having to make the dangerous journey from Honduras with an unknown outcome and would allow them to apply for refugee status prior to leaving the country. While supporters of the idea believe offering refugee status would greatly cut down the flow of immigrants crossing the border, a Federation for American Immigration Reform spokesperson warned, "Once you stretch the definition of refugee to include people in countries where there is violence or widespread poverty, you are going to create the expectation that people will be granted asylum, based on the same claim, if they get to the United States." The White House acknowledged the proposal was being considered, but a spokesperson clarified, "It doesn't mean we're going to do it."[38]

ISIS border threat
See also: ISIS insurgency in Iraq and Syria

In an exchange between Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Francis Taylor, an undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, on September 10, 2014, McCain questioned whether the terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), was attempting to cross the southern border of the U.S. in order to carry out terrorist attacks. While he pointed out to the Washington Free Beacon, "There is no credible intelligence to suggest that there is an active plot by ISIL to attempt to cross the southern border," the discussion between he and McCain revealed social media exchanges encouraging ISIS militants to cross the border into the country. McCain was not satisfied with Taylor's confidence that border intelligence would halt any such attempts, leading Taylor to state, "If I gave you the impression I thought the border security was what it needed to be to protect against all the risks coming across the state that’s not what I meant to say."[39]

ISIS insurgency

See also: ISIS insurgency in Iraq and Syria
Map of Iraq
Iraqi security forces were not well-trained or well-equipped enough following the American withdrawal of troops to stave off the al-Qaeda off-shoot, Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which had grown in power due to their actions in the civil war in neighboring Syria. On June 12, 2014, while reviewing options in dealing with increasing violence in Iraq by ISIS, Obama stated, "What we’ve seen over the last couple of days indicates Iraq’s going to need more help," however, the administration pointed out they would not send ground troops into Iraq. Obama authorized airstrikes in Iraq if necessary, on August 7, 2014.[40][41] Several airstrikes took place in the following days, as well as humanitarian drops to those battling ISIS troops.[42][43]

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was ousted by the president of Iraq on August 11, 2014, a move that brought support from Obama and other heads of state around the world. Haider al-Abadi, of the same political party as Maliki, was nominated to replace Maliki in hopes of forming a more inclusive government to the region.[44]

Two American citizens were beheaded by ISIS as a message to the president about America's military involvement in their movement. Obama responded, stating, "It’s not only that we’re going to be bringing to justice those who perpetrated this terrible crime against these two fine young men, but more broadly the United States will continue to lead a regional and international effort against the barbaric and ultimately empty vision that ISIL represents and that’s going to take some time, but we’re going to get it done,” Obama said. “I’m very confident of it."[45]

Obama's strategy

During a September 10, 2014 national address President Obama outlined air strikes, including in Syria, an increased number of U.S. military advisers in Iraq, aid for Iraqi ground forces and continued humanitarian support to those displaced by ISIS in an attempt to "degrade, and ultimately destroy" the terrorist group. Obama stated that with the help of a "broad coalition" and assistance from the new Iraqi government, the United States would help eliminate the group. The national address came on the heels of much debate during the congressional recess on the proper way to deal with ISIS, another issue covered in the address, with Obama calling on Congress to grant the administration provisions to help Syrian opposition forces battle ISIS in Syria.[46]

2014 Crisis in Gaza

See also: Crisis in Gaza, 2014

Beginning July 8, 2014, Israeli forces began Operation Protective edge, which involved missile attacks by sea and air on over 50 sites in Gaza as well as mobilizing ground troops for a possible assault.[73] One of the main objectives of Israel's ground assaults was to eliminate Hamas' elaborate tunnel system. Hamas expanded their system of tunnels extensively beginning in 2007. It was built to facilitate attacks and kidnappings, provide logistics between weapons plants, rocket launch points and military command. Egypt destroyed a similar set of tunnels on their border which were used to get key supplies into Palestine that Hamas could place taxes on.[74]

Boehner lawsuit

See also: Boehner's lawsuit against the Obama administration
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) announced in June 2014 that he was filing a lawsuit against Obama focusing on Obama's failure to enforce the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's employer mandate. House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) released a draft resolution July 10 that could be considered by the committee as early as next week and the House floor the following week. Boehner argued that Obama "changed the healthcare law without a vote of Congress, effectively creating his own law by literally waiving the employer mandate and the penalties for failing to comply with it."[75]

Obama was asked in 2013 about the legality of the delay, to which he responded, "If Congress thinks that what I’ve done is inappropriate or wrong in some fashion, they’re free to make that case. But there’s not an action that I take that you don't have some folks in Congress who say that I'm usurping my authority."[76] The administration called the move a political stunt and a waste of time.[77]

Bergdahl exchange

See also: Bowe Bergdahl exchange

The Obama administration exchanged five Guantanamo Bay prisoners for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl on May 31, 2014. Bergdahl was captured by Taliban forces in Afghanistan in 2009 and held captive just across the border in Pakistan.[78] Bergdahl has been accused of deserting his unit before being captured, leading to more controversy over whether or not the administration should have made a deal with the Taliban. Critics claimed the action showed American weakness by setting the precedent that the United States would make deals with terrorists. The House Armed Services committee chair Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) went further and insisted President Obama violated the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act by not giving Congress at least 30 days notice before engaging in talks to get Bergdahl back.[79]

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney claimed the exchange was rushed due to Bergdahl's "deteriorating" health. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel also defended the exchange and hoped it would create "a new opening" in future talks with the Taliban.[79] When asked the reasoning behind the negotiations on June 3, 2014, President Obama explained, "Regardless of the circumstances, whatever those circumstances may turn out to be, we still get an American soldier back if he’s held in captivity. Period. Full stop. We don’t condition that." He also stated that the administration had been consulting with Congress prior to the swap, a statement House Intelligence committee chair Mike Rogers (R-MI) disputed, stating, "In 2011, they did come up and present a plan that included a prisoner transfer that was, in a bipartisan way, pushed back. We hadn't heard anything since on any details of any prisoner exchange." Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) reported that he was told of the exchange but only "the day before or the day of."[80]

VA hospital waiting lines

See also: Veterans Affairs' secret waiting lists

According to reports by CNN, veterans hospitals across the country were delaying care of veteran patients, at times to the point that some veterans conditions deteriorated vastly or died due to the wait times. To cover for the long delays, some hospitals resorted to "secret lists" for patients awaiting care in order to keep their official wait times down.[81] A VA internal report showed that staff at nearly two-thirds of the nation's 216 facilities were instructed to falsify wait time information on reports. In an editorial in Time, Rep. Jeff Miller, chair of the House Veterans Affairs committee, stated, "Any VA administrator who ordered subordinates to purposely manipulate appointment data should be fired immediately."[82]

Shinseki resignation

On May 5, 2014, the American Legion, the largest veteran organization in the U.S., and Concerned Veterans for America called for the resignation of Secretary Shinseki.[83] American Legion's director stated, "At least let us know that the problems exist and they have a plan to take care of it," when asked about the lack of communication from the VA. Shinseki responded to the calls for resignation, saying, "I serve at the pleasure of the president. I signed on to make some changes, I have work to do."[84]

President Obama accepted Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki's resignation on May 30, 2014.[85] He was replaced by Robert McDonald. Obama announced that Deputy White House Chief of Staff Rob Nabors would lead a review of the VA's scheduling process and patient safety rules.[86]


See also: Obamacare overview rollout
See also: website rollout

Pat Roberts calls for Sebelius' resignation.

The launch of the website featuring the federal healthcare exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act was met with error messages, faulty information being sent to insurers and problems with direct enrollment through insurance companies.[87][88][89] At an October 10, 2013, promotional event for the website, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius stated, "Believe me, we had some early glitches, but it's getting better every day."[90] Sebelius testified before the House Energy and Commerce committee on October 30, 2013. During testimony, Sebelius stated: "In these early weeks, access to has been a miserably frustrating experience for way too many Americans, including many who have waited years, in some cases their entire lives, for the security of health insurance."[91][92] Officials have not released an estimated timeframe for fixes.[93]

Health insurance policy cancellations
See also: Health insurance policy cancellations since Obamacare

Leading up to the passage of Obamacare into law, one statement made repeatedly by the President, administration and Congressional supporters, was some form of the line Obama gave in an August 22, 2009, internet address, claiming, "If you like your private health insurance plan, you can keep your plan. Period."[94]

However, when the law was enacted on October 1, 2013, many individually insured people began receiving letters from their insurance carriers notifying them that their current plans would be canceled at the end of the policy term. The plans were canceled because they did not meet new minimum coverage requirements set by the law.[95]

Cost overruns

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigated the costs of the federal exchange website, estimating that the total cost, as of March 2014, was $840 million.[96] GAO Director of Acquisition and Sourcing Management William Woods claimed that the overrun was due to inconsistent oversight and constantly changing requirements, which were noted by contractors when asked to testify during the website rollout.[97] According to Kathleen Sebelius' House testimony on October 30, 2013, the website had a cost of $118 million plus another $56 million for IT support.[98]

Sebelius resignation
Sebelius resigned on April 10, 2014.
On April 10, 2014, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius resigned from her position following the troubled rollout of Obamacare. She and President Obama determined that the end of the open enrollment period provided a chance for change. She was replaced by Sylvia Mathews Burwell.

Warrantless wiretapping

In a classified presentation provided to The Guardian by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, it was made public that the NSA had been collecting information from top tech companies about U.S. citizens starting in 2007. Tech companies implicated in the Prism program began with Microsoft in 2007, followed by Yahoo (2008), Google (2009), Facebook (2009), PalTalk (2009), YouTube (2010), Skype (2011), AOL (2011) and Apple (2012). Prism gave the intelligence agency a direct connection to the servers of the companies, allowing the agency to gain information about email, videos, photos, stored data, file transfers, logins and social networking details. Instead of requiring FISA courts' permissions to acquire each piece of information, the agency is permitted to investigate anyone as long as it has reasonable suspicion. When asked about the NSA program, American Civil Liberties Union Director Jameel Jaffer stated, "It's shocking enough just that the NSA is asking companies to do this. The NSA is part of the military. The military has been granted unprecedented access to civilian communications."[99]

The data collected by the NSA not only included the information from tech companies but communications companies such as Verizon, AT&T and Sprint. The information collected from cellular companies not only include the metadata collected but also the content of phone calls under the Prism program. The information collection was first allowed by the Bush administration and then renewed under the Obama administration in 2012 under the Patriot Act.[100] According to a September 17, 2013 release by the FISA court, no telecommunications companies have challenged the demand of the NSA to disclose records.[101]

Snowden was indicted on two charges under the Espionage Act of 1917 on June 21, 2013, but he sought asylum in Russia. His asylum was granted on August 1, 2013, for one year.[102][103][104]

Wiretapping journalists

Over a two month period, federal prosecutors obtained phone records of Associated Press journalists, their headquarters and offices in New York, Hartford, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. House during an investigation in early 2012 of leaked, sensitive information. The AP released a story in May 2012, which is believed to be linked to the wiretapping, connecting a CIA counterterrorism operation in Yemen to the killing of Osama bin Laden in May 2011. At least 20 phone lines were believed to be monitored by federal prosecutors with the Department of Justice.[105]

On May 19, 2013, another case of federal investigators wiretapping journalists was uncovered when a Fox News employee, James Rosen, had his personal email correspondence seized in relation to a story published on June 11, 2009. The investigation into leaked documents from the State Department's Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, led them to Rosen through phone and email communication leading up to the publishing of Rosen's story.[106] In the affidavit, an FBI agent named Rosen a "co-conspirator" under the Espionage Act in order to obtain the warrant. All correspondence with Kim was seized along with two additional days of personal correspondence. Fox News also claimed the Justice Department seized several phone records, including one listed as Rosen's parents.[107]

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia released a statement on May 22, 2013 denying the use of wiretaps on phones and the seizure of any computer records of any news organization.[108]

IRS targeting

See also: IRS targeting allegations

On May 10, 2013, news broke that various branches of the Internal Revenue Service had specifically targeted conservative groups' applications for tax-exempt status. It began during the tea party surge in 2010. The agency was separating tax-exempt applications by searching for political terms such as "tea party" and "patriot." In June 2011, an IRS official was briefed on these transgressions and asked that this practice end. The flagging continued, however, when the criteria was changed in January 2012 to look out for groups educating on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.[109] President Obama said he learned about the targeting through news reports and stated, "If in fact IRS personnel engaged in the kind of practices that have been reported on and were intentionally targeting conservative groups, then that's outrageous. And there's no place for it."[110]

On May 16, 2013, IRS Commissioner Steven Miller announced his resignation.[111] Lois Lerner, the head of the tax-exempt organizations division throughout the targeting scandal retired on September 23, 2013, when an IRS review board informed her she would be removed from her position due to "neglect of duties."[112]

The House Ways and Means Committee announced on June 13, 2014, that emails from Lerner between January 2009 and April 2011 to those outside of the IRS were lost due to a computer crash. Koskinen promised all documentation from Lerner would be handed over for investigation, but it was revealed in a letter that emails from that period could not be found. Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) released a response, stating, "The Administration has repeatedly referred us back to the IRS for production of materials. It is clear that is wholly insufficient when it comes to determining the full scope of the violation of taxpayer rights." Chairman of the Oversight Subcommittee Charles Boustany Jr., (D-LA) questioned the administration's transparency claiming, "This is not the transparency promised to the American people. If there is no smidgeon of corruption what is the Administration hiding?"[113]


See also: 2012 Benghazi attack overview

On October 15, 2012, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claimed responsibility for the security of the diplomatic mission to Libya that was attacked on September 11, 2012. The attack left four Americans dead, including Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.[114] A State Department employee, Eric Nordstrom, claimed at a congressional hearing on October 11, that his request for more security to be present in Libya was denied by his superiors prior to the attack.[115] Clinton was also under fire because of the initial classification of the attack by then-United States Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice as a spontaneous response to an anti-Muslim video instead of a planned terrorist attack.[114] On December 19, the State Department announced the forced leave of four officials after an independent report was produced suggesting the officials "showed a lack of ownership of Benghazi's security issues."[116] Clinton was summoned before congressional committees on January 23 to testify on her knowledge of the attack. During the heated testimony, Clinton said of the requests for more security, "I didn't see those requests. They didn't come to me."[117] On August 20, 2013, the State Department announced the reassignment of the four officials placed on leave.[118]

On May 2, 2014, newly released documents from the White House led Issa to accuse the president of withholding the documents about the talking points used by Rice.[119] The document, an email from deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes, went to, among others in the administration, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. The email was meant to prep Rice for a media appearance, urging her "to underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy," as well as instructing her "to reinforce the President and Administration’s strength and steadiness in dealing with difficult challenges."[120] Carney disputed that the statements originated with the administration, claiming, "The only thing that refers to Benghazi is a cut-and-paste which, much to your disappointment and your boss’ disappointment, turned out to be produced by the CIA."[119]

On May 8, 2014, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) was chosen to lead a special committee investigating the attack in Benghazi and the administration's actions regarding the attack. The committee was made up of seven Republicans and five democrats.[121] When asked if the State Department would comply with the committee's requests, Kerry stated, "We’ll respond because we have absolutely nothing to hide whatsoever and I look forward to complying with whatever responsibilities we have."[122]

Operation Fast and Furious

From 2009-2011, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) ran Operation Fast and Furious, intended to get guns into the black market and sold to Mexican drug cartels. The guns were to be tracked, allowing the ATF to halt drug trafficking and catch the traffickers along the U.S.-Mexico border. The operation was part of an overarching border patrol initiative, Project Gunrunner, run by the U.S. Department of Justice "to combat Mexico-based trafficking groups." However, an estimated 1,400 guns were lost in the operation. A total of 34 trafficking suspects were indicted.On December 14, 2010, about a month before the end of Operation Fast and Furious, Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in Arizona and two guns from the operation were found near his body.[123]

Attorney General Eric Holder testified before Congress on May 3, 2011, stating he, "probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks." Sens. Chuck Grassley and Darrell Issa led the investigations into the scandal, and subpoenas were issued to the Justice Department on October 12, 2011, in order to secure documents between the White House and the Department regarding Operation Fast and Furious.[124]

On June 20, 2012, President Obama used his executive privilege over documents sought by the congressional investigative committee, saving Holder from possible charges in the investigation. On June 28, 2012, the House voted to hold Holder in contempt for failure to disclose the documents.[123] It was the first time in U.S. history a sitting cabinet member was held in contempt by Congress.[125]

The House Oversight Committee filed a civil lawsuit over the documents on August 13, 2012.[123] Holder asked U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson for the case to be dismissed on September 30, 2013, which she denied. Holder requested an immediate appeal, which was turned down November 18, 2013.[126]

Key legislation


Race to the Top

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Education statistics
See also

Race to the Top was the seminal policy of Secretary Arne Duncan's Department of Education term. It was a reform designed to induce competition among states and school districts for federally allocated grants. Duncan argued that the incentive to attain Federal grant money and the resulting competition would spur innovation and improve student achievement. The program was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and had an initial budget of $4.35 billion. To become eligible, states needed to satisfy a "Common Core" of achievement standards. States proposed sweeping reform objectives and then submit grant proposals for programs they believe would achieve the objectives outlined. Proposals were measured against a scoring criteria, and grants were awarded. The Department of Education then measured states' progress towards their target objectives as the grant renewal process proceeded. Several states were unable to meet proposed targets in Race to the Top funded programs. As a result, grant allocation slowed significantly after three initial rounds. In 2012, the Department of Education began a new grant allocation round -- Race to the Top-District -- in which school districts, rather than state school systems, may apply for Race to the Top program grants.[127]

Common Core

The Race to the Top Common Core Standards were developed by the National Association of Governors and the Council of Chief State School Officers. They were "informed by the highest, most effective models from states across the country and countries around the world and provide teachers and parents with a common understanding of what students are expected to learn" in order to "provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare our children for college and the workforce." Forty-five states and the District of Columbia, along with four territories, adopted Common Core Standards. Developed specifically for English Language Arts and Mathematics instruction, "the Standards are (1) research and evidence based, (2) aligned with college and work expectations, (3) rigorous, and (4) internationally benchmarked."[128]

Grant criteria

Grants are rewarded based on these scores and subsequent rankings:[129]

  • A. State Success Factors (125 points)
    • (A)(1) Articulating State’s education reform agenda and LEAs’ participation in it (65 points)
    • (A)(2) Building strong statewide capacity to implement, scale up, and sustain proposed plans (30 points)
    • (A)(3) Demonstrating significant progress in raising achievement and closing gaps (30 points)
  • B. Standards and Assessments (70 points)
    • (B)(1) Developing and adopting common standards (40 points)
    • (B)(2) Developing and implementing common, high-quality assessments (10 points)
    • (B)(3) Supporting the transition to enhanced standards and high-quality assessments (20 points)
  • C. Data Systems to Support Instruction (47 points)
    • (C)(1) Fully implementing a statewide longitudinal data system (24 points)
    • (C)(2) Accessing and using State data (5 points)
    • (C)(3) Using data to improve instruction (18 points)
  • D. Great Teachers and Leaders (138 points)
    • (D)(1) Providing high-quality pathways for aspiring teachers and principals (21 points)
    • (D)(2) Improving teacher and principal effectiveness based on performance (58 points)
    • (D)(3) Ensuring equitable distribution of effective teachers and principals (25 points)
    • (D)(4) Improving the effectiveness of teacher and principal preparation programs (14 points)
    • (D)(5) Providing effective support to teachers and principals (20 points)
  • E. Turning Around the Lowest-Achieving Schools (50 points)
    • (E)(1) Intervening in the lowest-achieving schools and LEAs (10 points)
    • (E)(2) Turning around the lowest-achieving schools (40 points)
  • F. General Selection Criteria (55 points)
    • (F)(1) Making education funding a priority (10 points)
    • (F)(2) Ensuring successful conditions for high-performing charters and other innovative schools (40 points)
    • (F)(3) Demonstrating other significant reform conditions (5 points)


The goals of the Race to the Top reforms were:[129]

  • to use data to inform instruction
  • to raise achievement standards and graduation rates
  • to turn around historically low-performing schools
  • to improve teacher and principal quality.

Opposing viewpoints

  • Critics argued that the Race to the Top funding model would take resources from already struggling school systems and create vast disparities in achievement. Supporters maintained that only a "small but significant" portion of Race to the Top funds would go to states with the "best, homegrown plans for education reform," and that absent these incentives, the status-quo Federal funding model would continue to fail students by ignoring innovation.[130]
  • Other opponents questioned whether these reforms could adequately induce innovation. They saw Race to the Top as evidence of "cartel federalism" in line with the Bush administration's No Child Left Behind policy. They did not believe reform would be achieved by further centralization of standards because “the ends of the educational system are still set by the same small group of officials, who are protected from competition.”[131]

Supporting viewpoints

  • American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten supported Race to the Top, but in May of 2013, she called for a moratorium on full implementation:
Done right, Common Core standards will 'lead to a revolution in teaching and learning' that puts critical thinking, problem solving and teamwork ahead of rote memorization and endless test-taking, Weingarten said. Done wrong, 'they will end up in the overflowing dustbin of abandoned reforms, with people throwing up their hands, believing that public schools are too broken to save.[132]

—American Federation of Teachers[133]

  • Supporters also pointed out that Race to the Top incentivized states to design and pursue serious reforms before any money was handed out. The competition for potential grants induced reforms to improve instruction in both quality and kind across the board, not just among states who ultimately receive grants.[134]


Race to the Top grants recipients were announced in three initial rounds.[135][136] [137]

Race to the Top grant allocations slowed significantly after the first three rounds as many states faced delayed implementation of promised reforms.[138]

In 2012, the Department of Education announced a new round of grant allocation -- Race to the Top-District -- in which individual school districts and charter school programs would be eligible for grants. Sixteen grant winners were selected in 2012. A second round of Race to the Top-District grants will be allocated, and in October 2013, 16 finalists for were announced.[139][140]


Despite 45 states and four territories formally adopting Race to the Top's Common Core, public backlash against the new standards became a frequent occurance. On September 19, 2013, a group of parents in California protested the state's adoption of Common Core when Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visited their city.[141] Duncan later drew criticism in November 2013 when he described the opposition to Common Core as "white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were," to a group of state school superintendents.[142] On November 18, 2013, parents in South Carolina and New York chose to keep their children home from school as part of a "National Common Core Protest Day" to demonstrate opposition to Common Core's "one-size-fits all curriculum" and standardized testing methods.[143][144] On December 8, 2013, the Buffalo Teachers Federation protested outside the residence of a state education regent in response to Common Core implementation and its emphasis on continually testing students.[145]

In response to the public outcry, several states delayed implementation or rescinded adoption of the standards entirely. The Alabama state school board voted to revoke their agreement to adhere to the Common Core standards on November 14, 2013. However, their existing state standards were still in line with Common Core.[146] Alabama is the only state to pull away entirely from its commitment to the Common Core standards. However, others such as Pennsylvania and Indiana have chosen to halt implementation.[147][148] Louisiana chose to delay Common Core's accountability measures for two years, while Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Georgia and Michigan chose to delay or abandon Common Core testing.[149][150][151][152][153]

Additionally, both Utah and Florida withdrew from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers and Smarter Balanced Assessment consortium, although both states plan to continue Common Core implementation.[154][155] In Ohio, Representative Andrew Thompson introduced House Bill 237 to the Ohio House of Representatives in order to prevent the state from implementing Common Core.[156]

Affordable Care Act

See also: Obamacare overview

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, was passed in its finality on March 21, 2010, and signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010.[157]

The aim of the law was to provide an expansion of health insurance coverage to more Americans through both individual health insurance marketplaces as well as through employer-provided plans. Minimum requirements of coverage were established and both individual and employer mandates were established over a period of years in order to achieve the goal of expanded coverage. Subsidies and tax credits are provided to individual consumers based on income level and dependents, and existing programs such as medicaid and CHIP were expanded to increase reach. Small businesses receive tax credits based on the level of insurance offered to employees, as well.[158]

Ten essential benefits for coverage

The law included ten essential benefits that plans created after the law's passage needed to include. Existing plans were grandfathered in, but few of the grandfathered plans remain due to frequent changes to health insurance policies.[159] The ten essential benefits outlined by the ACA are:[160]

  • Ambulatory patient services
  • Emergency services
  • Hospitalization
  • Maternity and newborn care
  • Mental health and substance abuse disorder services, including behavioral health treatment
  • Prescription drugs
  • Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices
  • Laboratory services
  • Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management
  • Pediatric services, including oral and vision care

Contraception mandate in the Supreme Court

See also: Obamacare lawsuits

On March 25, 2014, the Supreme Court heard the case put forward by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties. The case argued that mandated coverage of birth control violated religious freedoms. Both companies' appeals were heard together during a one-hour public session.[161]

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby on June 30, 2014. The 5-4 decision allowed companies to opt out of offering contraceptives on the basis of religious beliefs. Justice Samuel Alito wrote the court's opinion, stating, "We doubt that the Congress that enacted RFRA — or, for that matter, ACA–would have believed it a tolerable result to put family-run businesses to the choice of violating their sincerely held religious beliefs or making all of their employees lose their existing healthcare plans."[162]

The dissenting justices claimed the ruling would allow companies to "opt out of any law (saving only tax laws) they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs." Likewise, the Obama administration argued that companies that did not wish to provide the contraceptive coverage or other areas of coverage due to religious beliefs could decide not to provide any company-wide options.[162]

Although the decision expanded the notion of corporate personhood to include religious rights "to provide protection for human beings," members of the public found it highly divisive in nature as it reaffirmed the Court's "pro-business" stance.[163] Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) pledged to restore the Affordable Care Act's contraception coverage, stating, "If the Supreme Court will not protect women’s access to health care, then Democrats will. We will continue to fight to preserve women’s access to contraceptive coverage and keep bosses out of the examination room."[164]

Carbon cap executive order

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On June 2, 2014, President Obama signed an executive order intended to cut carbon pollution in the United States by 30% of 2005 levels by 2030. The order allowed states to individually determine which policies would be more effective for them to reach their goals. A similar bill was debated by Congress during Obama's first term in office, but it failed to pass. Obama used powers established by the 1970 Clean Air Act to sign the executive order.[165] Legal challenges were expected to arise over the 645 page order. [[U.S. Environmental Protection Agency|EPA Administrator]] Gina McCarthy said of the rule, "This is not just about disappearing polar bears or melting ice caps. This is about protecting our health and our homes. This is about protecting local economies and jobs."[166]

President Obama gave the EPA until June 2015 to finalize the rule and states have until June 2016 to submit their plans, but the EPA pushed the deadline for states back to 2017 for those working individually and 2018 for those working together on plans.[166]

Possible ramifications

Coal plants were most likely to be hit the hardest with estimates in the hundreds of the nation's 6,000 plants that would be shut down by 2030. The Chamber of Commerce estimated that the new rule could result in a lowering of the gross domestic product (GDP) by as much as $50 billion annually.[165]

The United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) president spoke out against the action, suggesting 75,000 jobs could be lost by 2020. He stated, "The proposed rule … will lead to long-term and irreversible job losses for thousands of coal miners, electrical workers, utility workers, boilermakers, railroad workers and others without achieving any significant reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions."[167] Additionally, Democratic lawmakers and candidates in coal-driven states have come out in opposition to the president's plan. Those lawmakers include: Alison Lundergan Grimes, Natalie Tennant and Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV).[168]

Response to VA problems

On August 26, 2014, President Obama announced 19 new executive orders aimed at improving the functionality of Veterans Affairs hospitals across the country in addition to providing other benefits for veterans. The executive orders enacted programs in the following areas.[169]

  • Access to quality healthcare - improved efficiency, accountability and transparency
  • Mental health initiatives for veterans
  • Mortgage interest rate reductions
  • Student debt relief
  • Improvements on the GI Bill
  • Job placement programs
  • Combating veteran homelessness
  • Increased funding to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Working through the disability claims backlog

State of the Union addresses

Every year in office, the President of the United States addresses Congress on the present state of affairs as well as the administration's goals for the coming year.[170] Addresses made by presidents in their inauguration years are not technically "State of the Union" addresses and are typically held in February.[171] Following are transcripts from Obama's State of the Union addresses.


U.S. President


See also: Endorsements by state officials of presidential candidates in the 2012 election

Obama sought and won re-election as President of the United States in 2012.[1][1]

Mitt Romney ran for the Republican Party, while Gary Johnson ran as a Libertarian and Jill Stein ran for the Green Party.

U.S. presidential election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes Electoral votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngBarack Obama/Joe Biden Incumbent 51.3% 65,899,660 332
     Republican Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan 47.4% 60,932,152 206
     Libertarian Gary Johnson/Jim Gray 1% 1,275,804 0
     Green Jill Stein/Cheri Honkala 0.4% 469,501 0
Total Votes 128,577,117 538
Election Results Via: FEC official election results

Other candidates that appeared on the ballot received less than 0.1% of the vote. Those candidates included: Roseanne Barr, Rocky Anderson, Thomas Hoefling, Jerry Litzel, Jeff Boss, Merlin Miller, Randall Terry, Jill Reed, Richard Duncan, Andre Barnett, Chuck Baldwin, Barbara Washer, Tom Stevens, Virgil Goode, Will Christensen, Stewart Alexander, James Harris, Jim Carlson, Sheila Tittle, Peta Lindsay, Gloria La Riva, Jerry White, Dean Morstad and Jack Fellure.[172]


In 2008, Obama defeated John McCain (R), Ralph Nader (Peace and Freedom), Bob Barr (L), Chuck Baldwin (Constitution) and Cynthia McKinney (Green) in the Presidential election on November 4, 2008.

U.S. presidential election, 2008
Party Candidate Vote % Votes Electoral votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngBarack Obama/Joe Biden 53% 69,498,516 365
     Republican John McCain/Sarah Palin 45.7% 59,948,323 173
     Peace and Freedom Ralph Nader/Matt Gonzalez 0.6% 739,034 0
     Libertarian Bob Barr/Wayne Allyn Root 0.4% 523,715 0
     Constitution Chuck Baldwin/Darrell Castle 0.2% 199,750 0
     Green Cynthia McKinney/Rosa Clemente 0.1% 161,797 0
Total Votes 131,071,135 538
Election Results Via: official election results

Other candidates that appeared on the ballot received less than 0.1% of the vote. Those candidates included: Alan Keyes, Ron Paul, Gloria La Riva, Brian Moore, Roger Calero, Richard Duncan, James Harris, Charles Jay, John Joseph Polachek, Frank Edward McEnulty, Jeffrey J. Wamboldt, Thomas Robert Stevens, Gene C. Amondson, Jeffrey Jeff Boss, George Phillies, Ted Weill, Jonathan E. Allen and Bradford Lyttle.[173]

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Obama is available dating back to 2004. Based on available campaign finance records, Obama raised a total of $1,475,627,500 during that time period. This information was last updated on October 14, 2013.[174][175][176]

Barack Obama's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 U.S. Presidency (Incumbent) Won $715,677,692
2008 U.S. Presidency Won $744,985,624
2004 U.S. Senate (Illinois) Won $14,964,184
Grand Total Raised $1,475,627,500


Breakdown of the source of Obama's campaign funds before the 2012 election.

Obama won re-election to the U.S. Presidency in 2012. During that election cycle, Obama's campaign committee raised a total of $715,677,692 and spent $683,546,548.[177]

Cost per vote

Obama spent $10.37 per vote received in 2012.

Campaign donors


Breakdown of the source of Obama's campaign funds before the 2008 election.

Obama won election to the U.S. Presidency in 2008. During that election cycle, Obama's campaign committee raised a total of $744,985,624 and spent $729,519,581.[178]

Cost per vote

Obama spent $10.50 per vote received in 2008.

Campaign donors


Breakdown of the source of Obama's campaign funds before the 2004 election.

Obama won election to the U.S. Senate in 2004. During that election cycle, Obama's campaign committee raised a total of $14,964,184 and spent $14,371,464.[179]

Cost per vote

Obama spent $3.99 per vote received in 2004.

Campaign donors

Candidate endorsements


Net Worth

See also: Changes in Net Worth of U.S. Senators and Representatives (Personal Gain Index) and Net worth of United States Senators and Representatives


Based on congressional financial disclosure forms and calculations made available by, Obama's net worth as of 2011 was estimated between $2,566,014.00 and $8,265,000.00. That averages to $5,415,507.00, which ranked 8th among executive branch members. His average calculated net worth[181] decreased by %2.6 from 2010.[182]


Based on congressional financial disclosure forms and calculations made available by, Obama's net worth as of 2010 was estimated between $2,802,012.00 and $11,830,000.00. That averages to $7,316,006.00, which ranked 9th among executive branch members.[183]

Elected office turnover

2012 elections

According to Sabato's Crystal Ball, the Democratic party gained 8 U.S. House seats and 2 Senate seats in 2012.

In state government elections, the Democratic party lost one governor's office and gained control of two state legislatures.[184]

2010 elections

According to Sabato's Crystal Ball, the Democratic party lost 63 U.S. House seats and 6 Senate seats in 2010. The House turnover was the largest differential since the 1948 general election.

In state government elections, the Democratic party lost 8 governors' offices and lost control of 10 state legislatures. The turnover in state legislature control was the largest differential since the 1974 general election.[184]


Introducing Bo and Sunny, the first family's dogs.
Obama and his wife Michelle have two girls, Malia and Sasha. They also share the White House with their two Portuguese Water Dogs, Bo and Sunny. Obama won a Grammy Award in 2006 for the reading of his memoir The Dreams From My Father, and is an avid reader and sports fan.[185] Obama was nominated, along with actor Zack Galifianakis for an Emmy award on July 10, 2014, in the Outstanding Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Program category for his interview on Galifianakis' Between Two Ferns.[186] He had the White House tennis court adapted to create a full sized basketball court shortly after taking office.[187]

Recent news

This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term Barack + Obama.

All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

Barack Obama News Feed

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See also

External links


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