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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. The following reports were released by ''CNN'':<ref name="secretlist">[http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/23/health/veterans-dying-health-care-delays/index.html ''CNN'', "A fatal wait: Veterans languish and die on a VA hospital's secret list," April 24, 2014]</ref>
 
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. The following reports were released by ''CNN'':<ref name="secretlist">[http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/23/health/veterans-dying-health-care-delays/index.html ''CNN'', "A fatal wait: Veterans languish and die on a VA hospital's secret list," April 24, 2014]</ref>
 
*On November 20, 2013, it was reported that at Williams Jennings Bryan Dorn Veterans Medical Center in Columbia, [[South Carolina]], patients were not receiving routine gastrointestinal procedures until up to a year after requesting an appointment, at times even longer. A review of 280 gastrointestinal patients showed that 52 of the patients showed complications due to the delay in care and early detection. The VA confirmed six deaths resulted from delayed care at the hospital, but ''CNN'''s sources suggested the number could be as high as 20.<ref name="dorn">[http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/19/health/veterans-dying-health-care-delays/index.html ''CNN'', "Hospital delays are killing America's war veterans," November 20, 2013]</ref>
 
*On November 20, 2013, it was reported that at Williams Jennings Bryan Dorn Veterans Medical Center in Columbia, [[South Carolina]], patients were not receiving routine gastrointestinal procedures until up to a year after requesting an appointment, at times even longer. A review of 280 gastrointestinal patients showed that 52 of the patients showed complications due to the delay in care and early detection. The VA confirmed six deaths resulted from delayed care at the hospital, but ''CNN'''s sources suggested the number could be as high as 20.<ref name="dorn">[http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/19/health/veterans-dying-health-care-delays/index.html ''CNN'', "Hospital delays are killing America's war veterans," November 20, 2013]</ref>
:The Dorn hospital also received an addition $1 million in federal funding in 2011 in order to treat the patients on long waiting lists. However, according to documents, only one-third of the the federal funds went to the intended destination. <ref name="dorn"/>
+
:The Dorn hospital also received an addition $1 million in federal funding in 2011 in order to treat the patients on long waiting lists. However, according to documents, only one-third of the federal funds went to the intended destination. <ref name="dorn"/>
 
*The Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, [[Georgia]], experienced the deaths of three patients due to long delays in treatment and had a waiting list of over 4,500 patients.<ref name="dorn"/>
 
*The Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, [[Georgia]], experienced the deaths of three patients due to long delays in treatment and had a waiting list of over 4,500 patients.<ref name="dorn"/>
 
*Between 2010 and 2011, VA internal documents indicated 82 veterans died or were dying in part due to delayed care from VA hospitals in the United States.<ref>[http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/30/health/veterans-dying-health-care-delays/ ''CNN'', "Veterans dying because of health care delays," January 30, 2014]</ref>
 
*Between 2010 and 2011, VA internal documents indicated 82 veterans died or were dying in part due to delayed care from VA hospitals in the United States.<ref>[http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/30/health/veterans-dying-health-care-delays/ ''CNN'', "Veterans dying because of health care delays," January 30, 2014]</ref>

Revision as of 07:50, 1 July 2014

Barack Hussein Obama
Official portrait of Barack Obama.jpg
44th President of the United States
Incumbent
In office
January 20, 2009 - Present
Term ends
2017
Years in position 5
PartyDemocratic
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 6, 2012
First electedNovember 4, 2008
Term limits2 (4 year terms)
Prior offices
United States Senator
2005–2008
Illinois state Senator
1997-2005
Education
High schoolPunahou Academy
Bachelor'sColumbia University
J.D.Harvard University Law School
Personal
BirthdayAugust 4, 1961
Place of birthHonolulu, HI
ProfessionPolitician, Lawyer
Websites
Office website
Campaign website
Barack Hussein Obama II (b. August 4, 1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii) 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.

Biography

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]

Career

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

  • 1983: Graduated from Columbia University
  • 1989: Interned at Sidley & Austin law firm
  • 1991: Earned law degree magna cum laude from Harvard University
  • 1992: Organized voter registration drives for Clinton campaign
  • 1992-1996: Attorney for Miner, Barnhill & Galland
  • 1992-2004: Part-time Lecturer and Professor at University of Chicago Law School
  • 1997-2005: Illinois state Senator
  • 2005-2009: United States Senator from Illinois
  • 2009-Present: President of the United States of America

Committee assignments

U.S. Senator

2007-08

Obama served on the following committees:[6]

2005-06

Obama served on the following committees:[7]

Issues

Presidential administration

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.[8] 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.[9]

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.[9] 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."[10]

VA hospital waiting lines

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. The following reports were released by CNN:[11]

  • On November 20, 2013, it was reported that at Williams Jennings Bryan Dorn Veterans Medical Center in Columbia, South Carolina, patients were not receiving routine gastrointestinal procedures until up to a year after requesting an appointment, at times even longer. A review of 280 gastrointestinal patients showed that 52 of the patients showed complications due to the delay in care and early detection. The VA confirmed six deaths resulted from delayed care at the hospital, but CNN's sources suggested the number could be as high as 20.[12]
The Dorn hospital also received an addition $1 million in federal funding in 2011 in order to treat the patients on long waiting lists. However, according to documents, only one-third of the federal funds went to the intended destination. [12]
  • The Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, Georgia, experienced the deaths of three patients due to long delays in treatment and had a waiting list of over 4,500 patients.[12]
  • Between 2010 and 2011, VA internal documents indicated 82 veterans died or were dying in part due to delayed care from VA hospitals in the United States.[13]
  • In the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system in Phoenix, Arizona, at least 40 veterans died waiting for care. The VA system in Phoenix used a secret waiting list. The secret list was used as a placeholder for patients whose care would be delayed for months. VA guidelines require care be given in a timely manner, usually within three weeks, but the Phoenix system used the secret list to hold names between the times appointments were made until the appointment could be made within the required VA timeline.[11]

Members of the House Veterans Affairs Committee began investigating the VA hospital delays in November 2013.[12] In April 2014, Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) ordered all records be preserved and intended to make the issue a congressional investigation.[11]

The VA hospitals in Nashville and Murfreesboro, Tennessee, had 4,752 new patients go through their facilities during a 6 month period ending March 31, 2014. Of those, only 29.6% saw treatment in the 14-day window goal set by the Veterans Affairs Department, representing the lowest score nationwide excluding those with the secret lists. The facilities with the highest percentage of new patients seen were located in Clarksburg, West Virginia, where 93.7% were seen in the 14-day window.[14]

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."[15]

Whistleblower

The whistleblower in the Phoenix system, Dr. Sam Foote, explained that as more veterans enrolled in the system, the stress on medical professionals grew. As the doctors and other professionals felt more stress, many began to leave the VA, leaving fewer people to care for the growing number of veterans. He noted that as the stress mounted on a fewer number of practitioners, medical mistakes became more common.[16]

Foote saw bonuses and promotions being awarded to the administrators for their reports on improved wait times, but he also heard about appointment schedulers being told that the patients they were calling for had already died. Foote lodged complaints with the VA's office of the inspector general, but he then started to get increased hours and more patients. He then contacted the media with his story and the reports eventually found their way to Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) and the federal investigation began.[16]

Hospital official bonuses

Despite the delays in care in facilities across the United States, many hospital and regional directors received bonuses worth between $7,500 to $80,000.[17]

Calls for 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.[18] 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."[19]

Actions taken

The director and two other high-ranking officials in the Phoenix VA system were placed on administrative leave on May 1, 2014, with their replacements being appointed on May 10. Former director Sharon Helman was replaced by interim director Steve Young who was charged with oversight of the 85,000 veterans and $500 million budget while the investigation was underway.[20]

Shinseki testified before the Senate Veterans Affairs committee on May 15, 2014, stating, "I’m committed to take all actions necessary to identify exactly what the issues are, to fix them and to strengthen veterans’ trust in VA health care. If any allegations are substantiated by the inspector general, we will act." Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) questioned the leadership ability of the secretary and others in the department, claiming, "VA senior leadership, including the secretary, should have been aware that VA was facing a national scheduling crisis. VA leadership either failed to connect the dots or failed to address this ongoing crisis, which has resulted in patient harm and patient deaths."

Prior to the hearing, President 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.[21] Two organizations, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) and the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), also launched a whistle-blower website for those who were affected by the controversial secret waiting lists. The head of POGO stated, "Whistle-blowers shouldn’t have to go it alone. We can help whistle-blowers hold the VA accountable, and keep the focus on solutions rather than attempts to hunt down those who voiced concerns."[22]

The VA's undersecretary for health, Dr. Robert Petzel, resigned on May 16, 2014, though he had already announced his retirement in September 2013 and his replacement was named on May 1, 2014.[23]

President Obama accepted Shinseki's resignation on May 30, 2014.[24] Sloan Gibson, who was confirmed in February 2014 to be Shinseki's deputy secretary, was named acting secretary of veterans affairs until a replacement could be nominated and confirmed.[25]

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) opened a criminal investigation from its Phoenix office on June 11, 2014. The FBI and the VA's inspector general will conduct the investigation with the Justice Department possibly getting involved depending on the outcome. A Justice Department spokesperson explained, "At the department's direction, the FBI has instructed agents in its Phoenix office to conduct an investigation into the allegations related to the VA. Federal prosecutors will be working with these investigators to determine whether there is a basis for criminal charges."[26]

Prior claims against the VA

A report by the Dayton Daily News examined VA records going back to 2001 and revealed that the department paid $34.7 million in 167 claims containing "delay in treatment" in their descriptions. The report stated that it was unclear how many of them met the department's "delayed care" description, but stated that the number of veterans who died due to problems at VA facilities could be as high as 1,100 from 2001 through the first half of 2013.[27]

Healthcare.gov rollout

See also: Healthcare.gov website rollout

Pat Roberts calls for Sebelius' resignation.

The launch of the Healthcare.gov 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.[28][29][30] 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."[31] Sen. Pat Roberts called for Sebelius' resignation over the struggling website on October 11, stating, "Enough is enough. Today I am calling on Kathleen Sebelius to resign her post as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Secretary Sebelius has had three and a half years to launch Obamacare, and she has failed."[32] Sebelius testified before the House Energy and Commerce committee on October 30, 2013. During testimony, Sebelius stated: "In these early weeks, access to HealthCare.gov 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."[33][34] Officials have not released an estimated timeframe for fixes.[35]

On October 23, Rep. Jeanne Shaheen, (D-NH) called for an extension of the open enrollment period while the administration attempted to fix the problems, while Sen. Joe Manchin, (D-WV) was already drafting a bill to delay the individual mandate for a year.[36]

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."[37]

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.[38] According to a September 17, 2013 release by the FISA court, no telecommunications companies have challenged the demand of the NSA to disclose records.[39]

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.[40][41][42]

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.[43]

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.[44] 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.[45]

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.[46]

IRS targeting

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.[47]

The targeting included allegations that tea party groups were forced to provide information not asked of other tax exempt groups. Examples of this were requests for donor information, Facebook posts, resumes and political intentions of group officials and connections to other groups.[48][49] 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."[50]

Testifying on May 15, 2013, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder promised a criminal investigation spearheaded by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and federal prosecutors into the Cincinnati office that has been blamed for the extra attention paid to conservative organizations, but he made it clear that the investigation would span more than just Cincinnati in order to find out where the "enforcement gaps" in the IRS's policies lie. Holder also added that groups paying for legal representation during the controversy would be reimbursed for legal costs.[51]

On May 16, 2013, IRS Commissioner Steven Miller announced his resignation. He still testified at the hearings the next day.[52] 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."[53]

In January 2014, the FBI announced no criminal charges would be filed over the IRS targeting scandal unless new evidence came to light.[54] On April 9, 2014, emails from Lerner, expressing her interest in denying the Crossroads GPS 501(c)(4) tax-exempt status, were released to the public, and a letter was sent by the House Ways and Means Committee urging prosecutors to hold Lerner accountable. Fourteen committee democrats voted against sending the letter with Rep. Sandy Levin stating the intention of the letter was to "declare this a scandal and keep it going until November."[55]

On May 7, 2014, the U.S. House voted to hold Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress due to her refusal to answer questions during her hearing. The criminal contempt charge carries a jail sentence and fine, but the Justice Department must first decide whether or not to pursue the charge. If the department opts not to pursue the charge, the House can bring up a civil suit demanding Lerner to testify or face time in jail. Lerner would not necessarily be forced to testify if the criminal charge is pursued.[56]

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee received information from the Justice Department that the IRS provided the FBI with a 1.1 million page database of information on tax-exempt organizations. The files, announced by the committee on June 9, 2014, were to be used by the FBI to investigate the political activity of the tax-exempt organizations. In a letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Jim Jordan (R-OH) wrote, "We were extremely troubled by this new information, and by the fact that the IRS has withheld it from the committee for over a year. We were astonished to learn days ago from the Justice Department that these 21 disks contained confidential taxpayer information protected by federal law." The IRS claimed most of the information was publicly available with the exception of 33 organizations for which it accidentally released non-public information to the FBI. Republican representatives are looking into whether any wrongdoing occurred.[57]

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?"[58]

Benghazi

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.[59] 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.[60] 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.[59] 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."[61] 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."[62]

On August 20, 2013, the State Department announced the reassignment of the four officials placed on leave. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) responded by stating, "Instead of accountability, the State Department offered a charade that included false reports of firings and resignations and now ends in a game of musical chairs where no one misses a single day on the State Department payroll."[63] Following the conclusion of a State Department investigation into Benghazi on September 16, Issa was not satisfied with the findings and stated, "We can certainly have Mrs. Clinton back; our view is that we need to get to the facts."[64]

In January 2014, Clinton called the attack her biggest regret. She said, "It was a terrible tragedy losing four Americans -- two diplomats and now it is public so I can say two C.I.A. operatives. You make these choices based on imperfect information. But that doesn't mean that there's not going to be unforeseen consequences, unpredictable twists and turns."[65]

New document

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, stating, "It’s disturbing, and perhaps criminal, that these documents were kept from the public. It comes in a week in which the American people have learned that you cannot believe what the White House says…and you cannot believe what the president says."[66] 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."[67] 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."[66]

Republican members of Congress fired back in response to Carney's dismissal of the email. Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) stated, "[T]his White House has gone to extraordinary lengths to mislead, obstruct, and obscure what actually took place…this White House been callously dismissive of our efforts to get answers."[66] Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) also spoke out about Carney, saying, "He has destroyed his own reputation by that statement that clearly was the talking points, which had nothing to do but Benghazi, saying it had nothing to do with Benghazi. That, to me, is an all-time low for a presidential spokesperson."[68]

Gowdy committee

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.[69] 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."[70]

The twelve members named to the Gowdy committee were:[71][72]

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.[73]

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 have 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.[74]

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.[73] It was the first time in U.S. history a sitting cabinet member was held in contempt by Congress.[75]

The House Oversight Committee filed a civil lawsuit over the documents on August 13, 2012.[73] 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.[76]

Key legislation

[edit]

Race to the Top

Policypedia
Education policy logo.jpg

Education policy in the U.S.
Public education in the U.S.
State education information
Glossary of education terms
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.[77]

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."[78]

Grant criteria

Grants are rewarded based on these scores and subsequent rankings:[79]

  • 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)

Goals

The goals of the Race to the Top reforms were:[79]

  • 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.[80]
  • 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.”[81]

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.[82]

—American Federation of Teachers, [83]

  • 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.[84]

Results

Race to the Top grants recipients were announced in three initial rounds.[85][86] [87]

Race to the Top grant allocations slowed significantly after the first three rounds as many states faced delayed implementation of promised reforms.[88]

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.[89][90]

Controversy

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.[91] 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.[92] 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.[93][94] 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.[95]


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.[96] 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.[97][98] 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.[99][100][101][102][103]


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.[104][105] 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.[106]

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.[107]

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.[108]

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.[109] The ten essential benefits outlined by the ACA are:[110]

  • 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

Carbon cap executive order

Policypedia
Policypedia energy logo.PNG
State energy policy

Energy policy terms

Fracking in the U.S.

Energy use in the U.S.

Energy policy in the U.S.


See also
Local fracking on the ballot

Statewide fracking on the ballot

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.[111] Legal challenges were expected to arise over the 645 page order. 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."[112]

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.[112]

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.[111]

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."[113] 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).[114]

Elections

U.S. President

2012

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.[115]

2008

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: Archives.gov 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.[116]

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.[117][118][119]

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

2012

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.[120]

Cost per vote

Obama spent $10.37 per vote received in 2012.

Campaign donors

2008

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.[121]

Cost per vote

Obama spent $10.50 per vote received in 2008.

Campaign donors

2004

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.[122]

Cost per vote

Obama spent $3.99 per vote received in 2004.

Campaign donors


Candidate endorsements

Analysis

Net Worth

See also: Net worth of United States Senators and Representatives

2011

Based on congressional financial disclosure forms and calculations made available by OpenSecrets.org, 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 net worth decreased by %2.6 from 2010.[124]

2010

Based on congressional financial disclosure forms and calculations made available by OpenSecrets.org, 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.[125]

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.[126]

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.[126]

Personal


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.[127] He had the White House tennis court adapted to create a full sized basketball court shortly after taking office.[128]

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


References

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