White House aims to spend 10% of its time on controversies
May 18th, 2013
05:33 PM ET
11 months ago

White House aims to spend 10% of its time on controversies

(CNN) – With the White House slashing its way through the recent brush of controversy, the president is putting out the message that he's focused on the economy as the administration enters another week of hearings on Capitol Hill.

"That’s why I like getting out of the Washington echo chamber whenever I can – because too often, our politics aren’t focused on the same things you are," he said Saturday in his weekly address, referring to his jobs tour that took him to Baltimore this week. "Working hard. Supporting your family and your community. Making sure your kids have every chance in life."

His chief of staff, Denis McDonough, is telling White House staff to devote no more than 10% of their time to the controversies involving the Internal Revenue Service, the Justice Department and the terror attack in Benghazi, Libya, a Democrat aware of McDonough's instructions confirmed to CNN.

Clearly there are no time cards floating around but the message was conveyed that the White House needs to focus on its jobs agenda and not get knocked off course by the rest.

The New York Times first reported the 10% message.

In Baltimore Friday for the second leg of his jobs tour, the president also called on Washington to not get sidetracked by "fleeting" issues.

"I know it can seem frustrating sometimes when it seems like Washington's priorities aren't the same as your priorities," he said in a campaign-style speech about the economy. "Others may get distracted by chasing every fleeting issue that passes by, but the middle class will always be my number one focus. Period."

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney spent a large chunk of his time taking questions over the issues during his daily briefings last week, especially as two IRS officials stepped down in a scandal that drew scorn from both Obama and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.

IRS officials took to Congress Friday in the first congressional hearing over the agency's targeting of political groups seeking tax-exempt status during the past few years. Those grillings continue next week, with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Democrat, planning to hold a hearing Tuesday and the House Oversight Committee scheduling a hearing on Wednesday.

Invited guests to Capitol Hill include former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman and IRS Director of Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner.

Lew is also slated to appear at hearings next week to testify on the Financial Stability Oversight annual report to Congress, but will likely face questions over the IRS inspector general's recently released audit that confirmed the agency's political targeting of conservative groups.

– CNN's Jessica Yellin, Dana Bash and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.


Filed under: Denis McDonough • President Obama
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. bill

    And the congressional republicans spend 15% of their time trying to repeal Obamacare, so that totals to 25% of wasted time by the GOP

    May 18, 2013 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  2. lottie

    they should not have to devote even that much time. The repos will find a new controversy soon anyway. They don't have time to govern just look for issues with the current administration. Mean while the American people are left out to dry. They election is not for a couple of years you idiots.

    May 18, 2013 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  3. king

    these repubs need to be brought up on charges, for not doing the people business, and following fake controversy in order to not fix our crumbling country. our country is crumbling folks, we still have the same infrastructure from back in the 40s and 50s, and all the repubs have been doing so far is chase ghost, and not try to fix our country. i will go crazy if these repubs come out talking about jobs jobs jobs again, fool me once but fool me twice, that means i am a crazy lunatic.

    May 18, 2013 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  4. Name willard

    Kick out of obama
    Obama said right what about about amerxian get mad abd presdient obam got mad.
    I'm really mad what happened fraud check scam from afrcian amercian.

    May 18, 2013 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  5. Ray E. (Georgia)

    Do Tell,
    Does that mean we now have a 10 percent President? Is that more or less than we had before? If the Adminstration would of being President maybe we wouldn't have theae problems. Want jobs to pick up? Repeal Oboma Care and extend the Bush Tax Cuts for at least 10 more years. Cut most excess spending for the next 10 years.

    May 18, 2013 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  6. Larry L

    "Denis McDonough, is telling White House staff to devote no more than 10% of their time to the controversies involving the Internal Revenue Service, the Justice Department and the terror attack in Benghazi".

    Since January, 2009 Republicans have spent 100% of their time distorting information, obstructing our Congress, and exploiting mindless conspiracies. Rather the simply keeping the opposition party on the defensive, they've dishonestly used crisis situations to make political points for radical, right-wing PACs. I will vote straight Democratic from now on.

    May 18, 2013 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  7. Evergreen

    It is encouraging to know the President is still focused on the well being of the nation. Congress has gone over the cliff and is totally worthless. If only we could shut the congress down.

    May 18, 2013 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  8. Larry L

    Imagine our military spending 10% of their time fighting our own troops. Imagine a football team where one player leaves the field during each play to explain the play to armchair quarterbacks. How about a surgical team who devotes one surgeon (during an operation) to answer procedural questions from hostile lawyers in the room? That's the sort of inefficiency the Republicans are causing in the White House as part of their never-ending attack on the President. They do far more damage than the Taliban.

    May 19, 2013 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  9. brooke

    While Republicans keep chasing their own tails, our President knows what is important...and that is JOBS!

    May 19, 2013 03:08 am at 3:08 am |
  10. J.V.Hodgson

    Now that is reasonable and right ( 10 %). These matters are at most 10 % of the nations problems at this time.
    But for some reason Republicans representing " we the people " seem to think we want them to put 90 % of time to Benghazi , IRS and A&P matters.
    Hello, what help is all that to the US economy, jobs, budget deficit, debt Immigration reform etc etc.
    Right now I do not have a view on Benghazi, IRS, or A&P, matters But think it's at a back room staff fact gathering level still, not these sensational sometimes fact blurring Senate or House hearings for political gain which do nothing to help Our nation at this time.
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    May 19, 2013 03:33 am at 3:33 am |
  11. Prawn Stars

    I can only give you ten percent for these controversies.
    That's the best I can do.
    The controversy market has dried up. I'll be lucky to make any money.

    May 19, 2013 04:24 am at 4:24 am |
  12. @RI_Roger

    Now that this administration is riddled with controversies do they want to turn their attention to the economy. It seems that if they were focused on the economy 5 years ago and less determined on finding blame rather than solutions, they wouldn't be in today's predicament. The media also needs to be held with some culpability for not asking the right questions or holding the administration accountable for the American people.

    The President needs to take responsibility for the last 5 years of economic stagnation, stalled net job growth and bloated government. The American people need to wake-up and send a vote of NO CONFIDENCE to the President and demand he take responsibility for his lack of leadership on the current controversies.

    May 19, 2013 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  13. Rick McDaniel

    The rest will be spent campaigning.........as usual.

    We have had zero managment, for over 4 yrs, and it clearly shows in the way the government is operating.

    May 19, 2013 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  14. rla

    Wannnna bet!

    May 19, 2013 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  15. rla

    This president would not know a real job if he saw one let along be able to set the conditions to create jobs!

    May 19, 2013 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  16. Gurgyl

    These contras are made up by GOP idiots–so no worry.

    May 19, 2013 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  17. jag

    Jack Booted Thugs – All of them!

    May 19, 2013 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  18. Tony

    The White House is saying to congressional Republicans: our 10% is good enough against your 100%.

    May 19, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  19. Thomas

    Why wont the white house turn over there electric bill ?

    The American Tax payer needs to know !

    May 19, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  20. MissButterfly

    Of course he's not going to spend much time on scandals. He's too arrogant to face his own criminality. It was Democrats (Chuck Schumer and others) who wrote letters to the IRS demanding that they scrutinize applications for tax exempt status by conservative groups. Democrats are totalitarian, jack-booted, brown-shirt thugs. One day all you left wing posters will wake up with your own rights being totally squashed, and you'll wonder why.

    May 19, 2013 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  21. Rachel

    10%? Really? This explains so much about the Obama administration. What a total failure.

    May 19, 2013 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  22. Jake

    10% on controversies 10% running the government, 40% playing golf,and 40% jetting around to fund raisers ... the Obama presidency's legacy.

    May 19, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  23. TXHusker

    And Obama will spend the other 90 % on golf and White House concerts/shows each Wednesday night.

    May 19, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  24. Cynthia

    What a disgusting leader. He would rather party with the wealthy in Hollywood and the media then work for the people. We need a true liberal in office not a man for the rich!

    May 19, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  25. BO

    This indicates the low level of intelligence and the blind following of obama low information voters. Let the hearings begin.

    May 19, 2013 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
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