McConnell: Obama administration marked by 'culture of intimidation'
June 21st, 2013
11:27 AM ET
10 years ago

McConnell: Obama administration marked by 'culture of intimidation'

(CNN) – The Obama administration is eager to defend progressive efforts to dismantle conservative causes, and it stands ready to "shut up anybody who challenges it," Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said Friday in a hard-hitting speech.

Using the recent Internal Revenue Service controversy to back up his claim, McConnell accused the Obama administration of pursuing an agenda that aims to "stifle speech" and enact a "culture of intimidation."

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"Our ability to freely engage in civic life and to organize in defense of our beliefs is still under coordinated assault from groups on the Left that don't like the idea of anyone criticizing their aims, and from a White House that appears determined to shut up anybody who challenges it," he said at the American Enterprise Institute, a year after he made a cautionary speech about the administration at the same conservative think tank.

The IRS admitted to unfairly targeting conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status starting in 2010, but officials say the action was a bureaucratic shortcut in its Cincinnati office. They maintain that it was not done out of political bias.

Republicans, however, argue the scandal is proof that the administration and progressive groups have been trying to clamp down on those who disagree with the president's agenda. Some have gone as far as saying the order to target conservative groups at the IRS came directly from Washington, not Ohio.

But congressional investigators have not produced evidence of any political dealing in the matter by the White House.

For his part, McConnell said he doesn't believe President Obama "actually picked up a phone and told someone over at the IRS to slow-walk those applications or audit anybody."

"But the truth is, he didn't have to," he added. "The message was clear enough."

The senator from Kentucky, who's up for re-election next year, singled out union groups for conspiring too closely with government officials, resulting in what he described as oppression against the public. "This isn't done in the interest of serving taxpayers. It's done in the interest of fleecing them."

A perfect example, he said, was the news this week that the IRS owes $70 million in bonuses to employees in the next several months. The agency says it's legally bound to pay the bonuses, if required by contracts worked out with the National Treasury Employees Union, according to a spokesman. It said it is acting under guidance from the White House Office of Management and Budget.

"The IRS union is thumbing its nose at the American people," McConnell said. "All it cares about is helping union workers get theirs. It's pure arrogance, and it reflects a sense of entitlement better suited to an aristocracy than to a nation of constitutional self-government."

The White House hopes the media loses interest in the story, he said, but "we can't move on."

"Let's not lose sight of the larger scandal that's been right in front of us for five years: a sitting president who simply refuses to accept the fact that the public isn't going to applaud everything he does," he said. "The only way to beat a bully is to fight back."

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Friday that acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel had indicated he would complete an initial report on the agency ordered by the White House by the end of June. When he took over leadership of the IRS on May 22, Werfel was given 30 days to provide his review of the agency.

- CNNMoney's Jennifer Liberto and CNN's Tom Cohen contributed to this report.

Filed under: IRS • Mitch McConnell • President Obama
soundoff (109 Responses)
  1. Larry L

    Mitch McConnell has one accomplishment. He is the only Senator to filibuster his own proposal. He also leads the group who blocks all debate in the Senate by horribly abusing the filibuster to obstruct all progress. He planned to try to make America's economic recovery fail – just for political gain. He is what's wrong with politics.

    June 21, 2013 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  2. Mack

    Mitch is fighting to make sure Obama is only a 2 term president.

    June 21, 2013 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  3. Tom from Canonsburg

    This is just the pot calling the kettle black. The GOP continuously cries foul when anyone plays the game according to the rules that they use. They've been doing this for about 3 decades.

    June 21, 2013 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  4. Borderless

    What he's saying is, "The Right is the New Left". There's some truth to that.

    June 21, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  5. Just a thought

    I think we all figured out he was a bully and intimidator during his first campaign. Events since then have only confirmted that he is the most inept, incompetent, corrupt president we have ever had. Think of all of those headlines reading "Obama slams..." He is a product of the corrupt SEIU/ACORN and therefore talks like them and acts like them.
    Just looking at your name is an indicator that you have NOTHING TO SPOUT except the Faux News and Fools talking points. See what you can do about coming up with thoughts of your own and it might be nice to find your own moniker too....but aside from that, your thoughts = useless, moronic and vapid.

    June 21, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  6. Larry L

    "McConnell accused the Obama administration of pursuing an agenda that aims to stifle speech."
    Ironic words from a man who leads all filibuster efforts to block debate in the Senate.

    June 21, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  7. Just a thought

    I think we all figured out he was a bully and intimidator during his first campaign. Events since then have only confirmted that he is the most inept, incompetent, corrupt president we have ever had. Think of all of those headlines reading "Obama slams..." He is a product of the corrupt SEIU/ACORN and therefore talks like them and acts like them.
    Hey genius, McConnell the turtle of the senate declared war on President Obama before he ever took the oath of office and now you are criticizing him for being corrupt with false faux news and fools lies. Pull your head out and take your meds

    June 21, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  8. Leah

    I don't think Mitch McConnell is even human.

    No wonder the GOP is dying.

    June 21, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    "Mitch is fighting to make sure Obama is only a 2 term president."

    Haha indeed. Seems to me that the GOP/Teatrolls have made it their top priority to make this a one-party political system.

    Cue the Jaws movie theme....Demographic Armageddon!

    June 21, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  10. Just a thought

    We have all seen the intimidation and only the loony left refuses to acknowledge it. If it was them and theirs they would be rioting in the street. The Obama administration has stonewalled the IRS investigation and its time for a special prosecutor to take charge. Corruption and ethical lapses are rampant in this Administration

    Say how does it feel to have only the ability to spout faux news and fools lies as your only point? Would it ever have been possible for you to have even walked by a critical thinking class? Did you ever consider going inside or did they say you didn't have the pre-requisite courses as you were homeschooled by Rush Dumbbaugh and Calamity Hannity....Pathetic

    June 21, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    Meh. Gopers/Teatrolls are the types that walk to the other side of the street when they see a minority walking towards them on the sidewalk. They then rationalize their irrational feelings of fear and intimidation by externalizing the cause...blaming that minority person for "intimidating" them, even though she was just taking her baby for a stroll.

    June 21, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  12. Douglas

    It's hard not to see Mitch as pure evil. No one is pure evil, but politically speaking, this guy is pretty diabolical. To see the world as skewed as people like Mitch do is no small feat. It takes a lot of brainwashing and a whole lot of hypocrisy.

    The thing is, it seems to me that most humans go through this kind of phenomenon only as children. Some, like Mitch, never seem to outgrow it. So they become walking straw-man arguments, smoke and mirrors and can't seem to generate an ounce of true self-awareness.

    It's really very sad.

    June 21, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  13. GonzoinHouston

    Intimidation? No. Now, when Obama and his VP start publicly questioning the patriotism and/or sanity of anyone who disagrees with their position on non-existent WMD's in Iraq, that's intimidation. When he outs a CIA operative whose husband has just shown him to be a liar, that's intimidation.

    Personally, I think Obama ought to be a little more intimidating where McConnel and Boehner are concerned.

    June 21, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  14. Fred

    We elected the wrong person president. TWICE.

    June 21, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  15. kgala

    To be honest, Mitch does look scared in the story photo!

    To be honest, I was more intimidated by the Cheney Administration.

    June 21, 2013 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  16. Matt

    Self projecting again Mr McConnell?

    June 21, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  17. Jinx9to88

    Will someone please defeat this clown? Tea party, conservative, milk man, newspaper guy, democrat whoever this guy needs to go period. Please I am so sick of hearing from this guy cry when all he does is filibuster everything including his own crap.

    June 21, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  18. GonzoinHouston

    Actually, if you want to see intimidation politics, look at the Tea Party. They threaten to run primary opponents against any republican who disagrees with them on any one thing, and they often make good on their threats. This is real intimidation, and it has what's left of the GOP wetting their pants in fear. Hence the GOP lurches even further to the right after two embarrassing losses.

    June 21, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  19. Michael Benjamin

    The "Turtle" needs to retire.

    June 21, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  20. teaparty days are numbered

    i think McConnell and the rest of the braindead right are doing better at dismantling conservative causes than any progressive ever could.

    June 21, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  21. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ Ron L I'm digging your posts today Ron.
    Keep it coming!!!

    June 21, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  22. Dominican mama 4 Obama


    We elected the wrong person president. TWICE.
    We DID NOT elect Bush the first time Fred, the Supreme Court "appointed" him our President.
    So technically speaking we elected the wrong president ONCE.

    (You left that one wide open).

    June 21, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  23. wade

    Go ahead state clearly what is OBVIOUS! LOL...

    June 21, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  24. Wake up People!

    Fred you're so right.......

    We elected Bush in 2000 and 2004......
    The biggest mistake the country ever made.

    June 21, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  25. lottie

    McConnell and the repo trolls are screwing up their own party . Obama has better things to do. They are still trying to vote out Obama care while everyone else has moved on.

    June 21, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
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