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Policy: Budgets & Deficits

Obama assures Americans that new IRS commissioner won't target conservatives

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Joel Gehrke,Barack Obama,Republican Party,IRS,Budgets and Deficits

Incoming Internal Revenue Service commissioner John Koskinen won't target conservative groups for inappropriate review: That's the subtext of a statement from President Obama assuring Americans that the new head of the agency is an honest broker.

"Throughout his career, John has always acted with the absolute integrity Americans demand from those in public service, and his strong leadership and unquestioned expertise make him the right person to lead the IRS," Obama said Friday after the Senate confirmed Koskinen to the new post. "I want to thank Daniel Werfel for his outstanding service as principal deputy commissioner of the IRS, and I look forward to working with John as he takes on this new role."

Obama's praise for Koskinen echoes the praise he offered Werfel, who took over the IRS after the targeting scandal broke.

“The American people deserve to have the utmost confidence and trust in their government, and as we work to get to the bottom of what happened and restore confidence in the IRS, Danny has the experience and management ability necessary to lead the agency at this important time,” Obama said at the time.

Obama said in May that he was angry about the IRS's targeting of conservatives.

"This is pretty straightforward," he told reporters during a press conference. "If, in fact, IRS personnel engaged in the kind of practices that have been reported on and were intentionally targeting conservative groups, then that is outrageous, and there is no place for it, and they have to be held fully accountable, because the IRS as an independent agency requires absolute integrity and people have to have confidence that they are applying the laws in a non-partisan way. You should feel that way regardless of party."

He made those remarks after an IRS official announced, by way of apology, that the targeting had taken place.

In August, White House press secretary Jay Carney referred to the IRS issue as a "phony scandal."

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