This week, President Obama had the opportunity to answer critical questions that millions of Americans are asking across the country. Unfortunately, he dodged them, which is precisely why so many Americans have lost trust in this President.
He should have addressed the IRS’s illegal targeting of conservatives, announced action to find out why four Americans died in a preventable terrorist attack in Benghazi, taken steps to protect Americans from unjustifiable privacy violations by the federal government, provided Americans relief from Obamacare’s hurtful effects, and committed to pro-growth policies to get more Americans working.
Instead, he showed that he refuses to hold himself or members of his Administration accountable to the American people.
Please keep reading below for an update on my latest actions to keep getting answers that are long overdue.
Sen. Cruz called on the President to answer five key questions on the topics below before the State of the Union Address. The President failed to adequately do so on every count.
1) Regarding the IRS’s illegal targeting of conservatives, Sen. Cruz asked:
Will the President allow the Department of Justice to appoint a special prosecutor to fully investigate the IRS's illegal targeting of conservatives? The President should be eager to prove he has clean hands on this issue. He professed to be angry and outraged by the IRS abuse. Will he pledge to stop new IRS rules that restrict the free speech of non-profit groups?
More than 250 days have passed since President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder professed outrage at the IRS’s wrongful conduct. President Obama pledged to work “hand in hand” with Congress to find out the truth and ordered the Department of Justice to conduct a criminal investigation. Since then, the Administration has stonewalled any meaningful investigation, no one has been indicted, and it has been reported that the FBI does not plan to file criminal charges. Even a top IRS official implicated in the targeting has been able to avoid testifying before Congress, temporarily received paid leave, and eventually quietly retired.
Meanwhile, the IRS is proposing new agency rules that would effectively legalize future scrutiny of conservative groups by forcing them to disclose its donors if they wished to engage in voter education. At the same time, the Department of Justice assigned a partisan Democrat, who has donated $6,570 to President Obama and the Democratic National Committee in recent years, to lead the investigation into actions at the IRS. This, on its face, is a conflict of interest.
2) Regarding the attacks on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Sen. Cruz asked:
Will the President call on Congress to form a Joint Select Committee to finally discover the truth of why four Americans perished in a preventable terrorist attack in Benghazi 16 months ago?
President Obama said nothing. More than 16 months after the September 11, 2012 attacks on Americans in Benghazi, we still do not know why our facilities were denied proper security, why no military assets were positioned near a known terrorist hotspot, why the attacks were immediately blamed on a non-existing protest by the highest levels of the Obama administration, and why no one in Washington or Libya has been held responsible for the attacks.
What we do know is four brave Americans were murdered in preventable terrorist attacks. Congress, the American people, and the families of the victims are still waiting for answers on Benghazi. President Obama, however, did not believe this subject merited a single word of his 7,000-word speech.
3) Regarding ongoing concerns about the federal government’s intrusion into our personal lives, Sen. Cruz asked:
Will the President act to ensure that the privacy of law-abiding citizens is protected from unjustifiable violations by arms of the federal government such as the NSA, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Internal Revenue Service, and Department of Health and Human Services?
Although President Obama has previously created a task force to explore reforming practices by the National Security Agency, he didn’t offer any real action to protect the privacy of law-abiding citizens in his State of the Union Address.
He said nothing about the IRS targeting conservative groups seeking to exercise First Amendment rights. The fact that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) still has not put proper protections in place to safeguard personal information from security flaws that now exist on the Obamacare websites, or to restrain the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) from using its virtually unfettered authority to conduct financial surveillance should worry all Americans.
4) Regarding the pain Obamacare is causing millions of Americans all over the country, Sen. Cruz asked:
Will the President finally recognize that it was a mistake to ram through Obamacare on a party-line vote and that, right now, it is hurting millions of Americans? Will he take real responsibility for misleading the American people when he falsely promised “if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan” and “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor”? Will he acknowledge that he doesn’t have the power to unilaterally rewrite the health law for powerful favored interests such as big business and Congress? And will he finally work with Congress to repeal Obamacare and start over, adopting instead reforms that will make healthcare more personal, portable, and affordable?
President Obama offered no apology for the millions of Americans who have lost their insurance plans, or stand to lose their insurance plans due to Obamacare. He expressed no regrets for causing Americans to lose their doctors, either. He said in his speech he would “take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families” but every time he has done so to change Obamacare, it was to benefit the elites—big business and Members of Congress—at the expense of American families. And, instead of extending a hand to Republicans to pursue commonsense reforms to make healthcare more personal, portable, and affordable, he chastised them for opposing Obamacare.
5) Regarding the terrible Obama economy, Sen. Cruz asked:
Will the President recognize that his economic policies have failed to create the millions of jobs that he promised and have, instead, reduced the labor force participation rate to its lowest level in decades? Will he commit to commonsense, job-creating policies such as the immediate authorization of the Keystone Pipeline, a moratorium on new regulations, and fundamental tax reform for every American?
President Obama claimed more than 8 million new jobs were created and that the unemployment rate is the lowest in the past five years, ignoring the fact that too many people are still unemployed and too many have given up hope of finding a job. The labor force participation rate is at its lowest point since 1978—an alarming 62.8 percent.
There is a 4.5 million jobs gap between the Obama Recovery and the average post-1960 average recovery. In comparison to President Reagan over the same comparable period, a Reagan Recovery would have produced 7 million more jobs.
If President Obama were truly committed to job creation, he would pursue commonsense, bipartisan proposals, such as authorization of the Keystone Pipeline. But, Keystone did not get a single mention.
Finally, President Obama admitted the need to cut red tape in some cases but promised more regulation in other cases. Americans don’t need more regulations to support special interests; they need a fair playing field in which the free market can create more jobs.
Click here to read Sen. Cruz's op-ed in the Wall Street Journal further discussing the President’s lawlessness.
Attorney General Holder Says IRS Investigation Doesn’t Warrant Special Prosecutor
On Wednesday, Sen. Cruz asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to answer questions about the ongoing IRS investigation, specifically in regards to the naming of a major Obama donor as a lead investigator into IRS's illegal targeting of conservatives.
In an exchange with Sen. Cruz at the 9:41 mark, Attorney General Holder says the IRS investigation does not warrant the appointment of a special prosecutor.
Sen. Cruz asks Attorney General Holder, “I would call upon you to carry out the tradition of independence that attorneys general have honored that office with for centuries and protect the integrity of the Department of Justice, given the political sensitivities, given the fact that individual citizens believe they are being persecuted by the Department of Justice for partisan reasons. It would further Justice and further the integrity of the Department of Justice for you to appoint a special prosecutor with a meaningful degree of independence to investigate and find out what happened, and I would suggest that any special prosecutor should have integrity beyond reproach, and not be a major Obama donor.”
General Holder responded, “I don’t think that there is a basis for us to conclude on the information as it presently exists that there is any reason for the appointment of the independent counsel…The notion that somehow this has caused a loss of faith in this Justice Department is inconsistent with the facts.”
Additionally, earlier in the hearing, at the 5:10 mark, Attorney General Holder denied he had any reason to believe the IRS investigation is conflicted, saying, “I don't have any basis to believe that the people who engaged in this investigation are doing so in a way other than investigations are normally done. That is by looking at the facts, applying the law to those facts, and reaching the appropriate conclusion. I don't have any basis to believe anything other than that is occurring.”
Sen. Cruz responded, “I would say a lot of American citizens have a basis to believe it, given 282 days have passed and no on has been indicted; 280 days have passed and many, if not all, of the victims have not even been interviewed; 280 days have passed and apparently the anger and outrage that both the President and you expressed has utterly disappeared. Indeed, in last night's State of the Union address the President did not so much as mention the word 'IRS.' So the anger and outrage sees very little manifestation in actual action."
Cruz Files Amicus Brief on Behalf of Senators Defending Religious Liberty from Obamacare Contraception Mandate
This week, Sen. Cruz joined by Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, Mike Lee, R-Utah, and David Vitter, R-La., filed an amicus brief in support of the challenge by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties against Obamacare’s contraception mandate.
“The First Amendment guarantees every American the right to free exercise of religion,” said Sen. Cruz. “Yet, the Obama Administration has chosen repeatedly to break the law by giving breaks to big business and Congress, while refusing to grant those same waivers to people with sincerely held religious beliefs.”
In the brief, the senators document the numerous ways in which the Obama Administration has unilaterally ignored the text of the law, while at the same time failing to protect Americans’ religious liberties.
“The various delays and exceptions that the Administration has announced all have one effect: exempting even more health care plans from the requirements of the ACA,” the brief says. “In each instance, the beneficiaries of these exemptions are the politically powerful and well-connected. The Administration, however, refuses to grant the same leniency to those for whom the contraception mandate violates their sincere religious beliefs.”
Specifically, the senators point to the Administration’s unilateral decision to delay the health insurance requirements, the cap on out-of-pocket costs, the expansion of the employer mandate penalty, and the granting of health subsidies to Members of Congress and Congressional staff as examples of how the Administration has ignored the text of the law.
“We will not stand by as President Obama continues to skirt the law, selectively enforcing Obamacare and hand-picking winners and losers to satisfy his political agenda,” said Sen. Cornyn. “I join in filing this brief to protect the rights of all Texans and all Americans to practice their religious beliefs without obstruction from the federal government.”
"The ability to practice the faith we choose is one of our great Constitutional rights. The Obama administration's contraceptive mandate stomps on that right," added Sen. Vitter.
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