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Obama agenda: Legacy winds and the environment?

“President Barack Obama will direct his administration on Tuesday to begin addressing the issue of climate change with a series of ambitious executive branch actions, sidestepping a Congress that has displayed little appetite for addressing the issue,” NBC’s Michael O’Brien writes. “Among a range of initiatives aimed at cutting carbon emissions both at home and internationally, the president will announce a directive for the Environmental Protection Agency to establish carbon emission standards for both new and existing power plants.” More: “His proposals are certain to engender stiff resistance from Republicans in Congress and the broader business community.”

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew’s statement on the IRS report after meeting with newly installed IRS Commissioner Danie Werfel, including that Lew and Werfel will be going on the road outside Washington in coming weeks:

"Our tax code has to be administered with the highest of standards and without bias. … Last month, the President appointed Mr. Werfel, a dedicated public servant who has served presidents of both political parties, as acting head of the IRS. On his first day on the job, I asked him to take three immediate actions, as appropriate, within his first 30 days: 1) ensure staff that acted inappropriately are held accountable 2) examine and correct any failures in the system that allowed this behavior to happen and 3) take a forward-looking systemic view at the agency's organization.

“…Important progress has been made in strengthening the IRS so that it can provide high-quality and fair taxpayer service. … Since Mr. Werfel's appointment, the IRS has new leadership in place at all five levels of management responsible for tax exempt applications. Additionally, Mr. Werfel has created a new Accountability Review Board, and has taken action to address the backlog of applicants who were waiting for tax exemption status. Nevertheless, more work remains. I am committed to taking action to make sure we get this job done. An essential element of restoring the public trust is improving service to taxpayers.  To that end, I have asked Mr. Werfel to spend some time outside Washington in the coming weeks to meet with taxpayers, business leaders, and community officials and to uncover new ways to make the IRS more efficient and consumer friendly. The assessments and actions outlined in Mr. Werfel's report have charted a path that will improve performance and accountability, and will help ensure that we appropriately address the actions identified by the IRS Inspector General."