Felicia Muftic – GOP-controlled House: The good, the bad and the ugly
Grand County, CO Colorado
As the Republicans gain control of the House of Representatives, there is some good, some bad, and some ugly coming down the pike.
Good is John Boehner, House Majority Leader, tagging the House of Representatives “the people’s house.” Ugly is that his appointee to chair the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), turned his committee room into a home for lobbyists.
According to Politico, Rep. Issa sent out a letter to 150 business trade associations who fund the largest army of beltway lobbyists, fishing for evidence that government regulations caused loss of jobs.
Those trade association lobbyists must be salivating at this opportunity of the century. Business interests want nothing more than to shed themselves of having to comply with environmental and consumer protection regulations, and he has given them an opportunity to provide an unverified “estimate” how many more jobs they could create if they did not have to worry about such compliance.
It is plain ugly is that Issa has just further empowered lobbyists who represent trade associations, whose campaign contributions and influence have been considered by many as legalized corruption or at minimum contributing to business as usual in the beltway.
Democracy is about balance and tradeoffs and one-sided hearings only pander to political bases. It remains to be seen if Rep. Issa will also fish with equal zeal for comments in the waters of environmentalists and consumers, too, and issue subpoenas for their appearance before his committee.
Rep. Issa’s political agenda is hardly a secret. In a Jan. 2 CNN interview he made it clear that he had a bias against an active federal government and was out to illustrate that big government is not in the public interest. One of his tactics is to make a case that big government is bad for job creation. While this approach is a matter of beauty for teapartiers, it is not without risk. The jobs picture has been steadily improving and creating jobs may not be the intense political issue in two years that it is now.
Issa has indicated he will try to tie the job creation issue to an attack on Obamacare. He may find what most experts say: The jobs created in the health care industry to provide services to 30 million heretofore uninsured may offset job losses elsewhere.
Another risk of linking jobs issues to his political agenda is that he will drown out attention to the remainder of his announced list of hearings, which includes some good topics that could lay groundwork for needed reform in the future.
Among Issa’s planned probes is an investigation into the causes of the Great Recession, which resulted in the greatest loss of jobs since the Great Depression and the role Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae played in the meltdown. It is highly possible much of the fault found will be the lack of enforcement of regulation and inability of the government to wind down banks too big to fail. If so, this inquiry might bolster support for the Wall Street reform law.
All to the good, too, are the rest of Issa’s hearing topics, including corruption in Afghanistan, the prevention of leaks of sensitive national security information to the public, and the failure of the Food and Drug Administration to prevent E coli and Salmonella outbreaks. Their airing could generate support to leave Afghanistan and to improve performance of regulatory agencies.
However, if Congressman Issa opts to probe health care reform to support the Republican goal to appeal and replace Obamacare, hearings will provide the Obama administration with a welcomed high profile public platform to make their case that $400 billion will be saved over nine years by eliminating the unnecessary subsidy of private insurers who now administer Medicare and to dramatize the findings of the Deficit Commission that continuation of Obamacare is essential if the deficit is to be reduced. Failure to reduce the deficit will be ugly indeed.
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