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Darrell Issa's chance to make his mark on government oversight

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) is now poised to become chairman of the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee. As chairman of the most powerful oversight committee in the new Republican House, Issa will have enormous power to set the agenda for both monitoring government and changing it.

It is no small irony that Issa made his personal fortune with the Viper, an automobile alarm system. Issa has earned a well-deserved reputation as a viper in his own right by mounting constant attacks on the Obama administration. He's been asking tough questions and has already said he'll investigate the food safety system, which continues to produce one meltdown after another.

Issa is right to mount an aggressive oversight agenda--that's his committee's responsibility, and has been for decades. But just what shape will his oversight take? And will it lead to real government reform?

Democrats are right to wonder whether Issa will follow in the footsteps of the committee's former chairman Dan Burton (R-IN). Having announced his intention to drive President Bill Clinton from office, Burton spent his first four years as chairman issuing one subpoena after another about everything from misuse of the White House Christmas card list to special favors such as nights in the Lincoln bedroom for high rollers. He stepped down in 2003 having done little more than tarnish the committee's reputation.

Luckily for the committee, Burton was followed by Tom Davis (R-VA), one of the best of the best. He did his share of big-ticket investigations despite the pressure to protect the Bush administration. He also produced notable reforms in the still-struggling Department of Homeland Security, helped rebuild the Federal Emergency Management Agency and even produced a huge reform package on presidential appointments that was eventually killed by a narrow-minded Senate. He was also bipartisan.

Will Issa set course as another Burton or Davis? The answer is up to Issa. He's much more strategic than Burton for sure; and he has the political savvy to spin the current turmoil to legislative success. He knows more about government than his press releases show, and has an entrepreneur's eye. He may be just the chairman to produce the kind of major government reform so desperately needed today.

Issa certainly knows that the nation needs a more accountable, efficient and productive bureaucracy. But what he may not realize is that there is $1 trillion in savings through long-overdue reform.

The options are already there for the taking: $1 billion over the next ten years by cutting the number of presidential appointees; $100 billion by eliminating needless management layers throughout the bloated federal hierarchy; $200 billion by eliminating many of the federal jobs about to be vacated by the baby boomers; $200 billion by cutting the contracting workforce; $100 billion by increasing federal productivity; $300 billion by merging duplicated programs; and $200 billion by eliminating programs that either do not produce results or are too trivial to bother.

These changes would be tough and have to be fleshed out in real legislation. They also need to be "scored" for actual savings. Issa might start by reaching out to Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) in giving the federal Inspectors General the authority and staff to start looking for big-ticket savings. He should also work with new Comptroller General Gene Dodaro and Obama's next budget chief, Jack Lew. All are interested in comprehensive reform, as is former Federal Reserve Board chairman Paul A. Volcker.

Yes, Issa will conduct tough oversight. And yes, he'll get nasty. But he should also look for the grand compromise on government reform that is so much easier to forge in divided government. That's what the Republicans did in 1947 when they created the National Commission on Executive Organization chaired by former president Herbert Hoover. It is also what former Federal Reserve chairman Paul A. Volcker intends to produce through the Campaign for High Performance Government, which is housed at my school. Issa should put Volcker on his call list right away.

Issa could be the next great chairman of Government Reform and Oversight. I like to believe he will try. Pay and hiring freezes produce little more than small change and wreck havoc on government performance. So do the random hiring cuts that are now circulating in proposed legislation. If Issa wants to be known for something big, there's nothing more important than big-ticket bureaucratic reform. He should start work now. It's his choice.

By Paul Light

 |  November 4, 2010; 3:43 PM ET |  Category:  Change management , Federal government leadership , Public leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Issa will prove, once again, that Republicans are not interested in "reform". They should have paid more attention to the country's business than Clinton's love life and Christmas card list in the 90s. What a farce this whole thing is looking to be.

Posted by: lddoyle2002 | November 9, 2010 3:57 PM

I weep at what passes for comments. Where are the William Buckley like thinkers? Obama is not American? Birthers still at it? I want to hear solutions not un-useful theory. Obama is in for (at least) two more years and will run again. We need to get the country moving again and help for the middle class.

Posted by: Ralph_Indianapolis | November 9, 2010 11:45 AM

Issa is going to attack the Democrats with everything thta he has. My sense is, however, is that he is not going to find much wrongdoing, at least not within the Democratic Party. After the purging of political criminals during the Bush years I dont think many elected officials would have been dumb enough to engage in a lot of questionable behavior after all that. Remember Jack Abrams? Issa will waste our tax dollars nonetheless. If he does, I am certain that the American people will not stand for it. We dont have money to waste on witch hunts.

Posted by: ruthella10 | November 9, 2010 11:41 AM

I can hear the calliopee music faintly. Now its getting lauder! Get excited boys and girls! The Issa circus is coming to town!

Posted by: Bronski | November 9, 2010 9:55 AM

First, I want to see Mr. Issa's birth certificate. Next, his criminal record. I'm very serious.

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Posted by: dfdfhdskdsk | November 6, 2010 10:30 AM

Darrell Issa is already busy. The polls had not been closed for 24 hours when I received a mass email from Issa exhorting Citizen Watch Dogs to send pictures of any Recovery Act signs they see posted at construction sites funded by the Recovery Act.

Apparently, we are all supposed to be very angry about these signs because they display PROPAGANDA (a code word for socialist brainwashing) and may have cost "up to" $10,000 each and "potentially" cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Issa can't be more precise that that yet because he doesn't know how many signs have been erected, where they are, or what they look like. That is why it is so crucial that we take pictures of the signs and email them to stimulussigns@mail.house.gov.

Here's the website for those who care to see how many Citizen Watch Dogs are on patrol in your home town:

http://republicans.oversight.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=639&Itemid=7

Posted by: exco | November 6, 2010 1:47 AM

I usually stay off these type of pages and keep to the "Skins" blogs et al.
Forgive me if I suggest to those of you who really seem to be angry: why not wait and see. There needs to be accountability. If nothing has been done wrong, why sweat it. If on the other hand someone is/has done wrong, don't we as taxpayers, want to know? Don't we have a right to have questions asked and answered under oath? Anyway--Enjoy the bi-week :)

Posted by: MTalleyMon | November 5, 2010 4:51 PM

Issa is a joke. This will be Whitewater all over again. He will issue soepena's that ave no bearing on the country, and people will get frustrated that again, Washington is not listening.

Posted by: jjj141 | November 5, 2010 2:46 PM

I think we need to hear a lot more about Issa's colorful history and police record as a car thief before he got into the alarm business.

Posted by: BurfordHolly | November 5, 2010 2:27 PM

I've read almost every book Mr. Light has written. His insights are mostly on the mark.

Oversight generally occurs when the President is not from the same party as those ordering the oversight. Most people was real oversight not politically movitated oversight.

Who audits the auditors - is always a good questions as waste and abuse are as likely to occur at GAO or the OIGs as anywhere else.

Posted by: TCarrollo | November 5, 2010 1:59 PM

Gee, I wonder if 'FLASHHARRY' is Jack Cashill? Remember, you can't spell Cashill without the 'shill.'

Good luck hawking your Obama conspiracy fantasies, buddy!

Posted by: rbtewes | November 5, 2010 1:54 PM

Darrell Issa will concentrate his much needed attention on federal waste and mismanagement. There is quite a lot of necessary investigative work to be done.

Barack Obama's greatest long term political weakness, the astounding totality of secrecy that shrouds virtually the entire paper trail of his existence from birth to the White House, will continue to worsen on its own as more and more American voters become aware of the hypocrisy of the egregious deceptions from the man who promised that his administration would be known for transparency and accountability.

The infamous original typewritten long form birth certificate, which has never been released or allowed to be scrutinized, is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. Practically every original record and document from his past continues to remain deeply hidden away.

A vast majority of American voters believe that the process of running for the office of President of the United States should be the toughest public job interview on the planet.

The sad fact remains that Barack Obama could not be hired as a janitor in a federal building with the amount of verifiable personal information that he has provided.

Jack Cashill is an investigative journalist who is one of the leading experts on the hidden secrects of Barack Obama. Check out cashill.com if you are interested in finding out more about the truth of the Obama deceptions.

What is being hidden and why are they hiding it?

cashill.com

Posted by: FlashHarry | November 5, 2010 11:52 AM

We can only hope that the American people will see through the waste of time and resources caused by the frivolous and nonsensical "investigations" which will be coming down the pike.
==========================================
Oh you mean like the DOJ investigations with Holder the lapdog being used to punish political enemies? That type of "nonsense"? Surely you aren't suggesting that politicians would resort to that extreme just to harass? A good place for Obama to start showing good will would be to drop his harassment of Sheriff Joe Apraio.
===================
By frivolous do you mean investigating how a man who apparently was not born in the US, and whose parents were not qualifying American citizens, can hold the presidency of the US?

Or, how the DNC raised hundreds of millions of dollars for Obama from foreign sources? Or, look into the Communists and socialists who Obama has appointed as czars? Or, looking into the relationship between Obama and ACORN, SEIU, MoveOn.org, and George Soros? Or................

Posted by: mike85 | November 5, 2010 11:13 AM

Just having a non-Dem with the ability to investigate will hopefully put the Dem executive branch on their toes.

The executive branch got a free pass from Congressional oversight Obama's first two years.

One benefit of divided government is that people know the other party won't turn a blind eye to wrongdoing.

Posted by: jfv123 | November 5, 2010 10:27 AM

We can only hope that the American people will see through the waste of time and resources caused by the frivolous and nonsensical "investigations" which will be coming down the pike.
==========================================
Oh you mean like the DOJ investigations with Holder the lapdog being used to punish political enemies? That type of "nonsense"? Surely you aren't suggesting that politicians would resort to that extreme just to harass? A good place for Obama to start showing good will would be to drop his harassment of Sheriff Joe Apraio.

Posted by: Desertdiva1 | November 5, 2010 10:22 AM

This is like high farce. The Bush administration set out to destroy these agencies so they couldn't do their jobs. I'm sure Issa supported that effort. They damaged them badly. Now obama is trying to rebuild the agencies and Issa is attacking him for them not doing their jobs. Oh the hypocrisy and dishonestly is incredible. Issa is just part of the overall Republican plan to bring down Obama. They don't give a damn about the country.

Posted by: guyachs | November 5, 2010 10:21 AM

Issa will "investigate" Obama and his administration endlessly, as a distraction from the obvious fact that Republicans, in the thrall of the teabaggers, have no solutions to our economic woes, nor any intention to end the wars. Issa will do the bidding of the far-right honchos and that will be to wasted time, money and attention on pointless "investigations." I scarequote "investigations" because they will be just a continuation of smears and lies.

Posted by: douard1 | November 5, 2010 9:45 AM

The right wing slime machine has created an environment where they create a falsehood, post it somewhere and then they all start referencing it as fact. Soon they are all quoting each other. Issa will simply feed this machine. Yesterday, they started to attack Obama's India trip. They had the cost 200,000,000 a day, a total cost of 2 billion. A sixth of the navy and who knows how much of the air force was going with him He's taking a contingent of 2 or 3 thousand people and renting out the Taj Mahal. These people don't care about the truth. The truth to them is a simple story created to justify whatever they want to say.

Posted by: guyachs | November 5, 2010 9:36 AM

One can only hope that money we don't have will be spent on investigations... ie; "whitewater"... millions that ended up telling us what the RTC already had.

Posted by: ohwell1 | November 5, 2010 8:45 AM

Morning Birthers, how are things in the Corporate states of Kochland this morning.
Issa will do, what ever the Chamber of Criminals, oops I mean Commerce tell him to do.

Posted by: fimclennan | November 5, 2010 8:13 AM

Issa's nowhere near Obama's caliber. He's more like chihuahua yapping about, and he'll probably try and nip at Obama's heels, but that's about it. Just another distraction that passes for politics in the loony world of the Republican Party...

Posted by: Tambopaxi | November 5, 2010 6:55 AM

The mainstream media and various other Obamapologists selectively and purposefully focus on the so-called "birthers" whenever any mention is made of the astounding totality of concealment of virtually the entire paper trail of the current president's existence.

By portraying the birthers as irrational or deranged individuals obsessed with the belief that Barack Obama was born in Kenya or elsewhere outside of the United States, they are able to avoid any emphasis on the growing awareness of the fact that practically every original record and document from his past continues to remain deeply hidden away in a tight shroud of secrecy.

In fact, astute observers in corridors of power around the world as well as other quarters have always rejected the notion that the current president was born anywhere but Hawaii, amid widespread and growing speculation that his curious failure to allow for the release and scrutiny of the infamous original typewritten long form birth certificate may well have nothing to do with his place of birth.

Whether the current president's biological father was the late Kenyan Barack Obama "Sr." or the late CPUSA member and radical activist Frank Marshall Davis or the late "grandfather" Stanley Dunham (arguably the most likely candidate - see cashill.com among other sources) or some other man is far less important and relevant than the truth about what makes him tick and who is pulling his strings.

This is the sort of information that postwar American voters had become accustomed to having the mainstream media provide for them, until 2008 when Barack Obama was given a remarkable free pass on this basic issue of personal truth and transparency.

Thus, the hidden original typewritten long form birth certificate, which has been the subject of much discussion and controversy, is actually the concealed Obama document that is the least interesting to the astute observers who follow the developing issue of the growing awareness of the current president's totality of personal secrecy.

In addition to the original typewritten long form birth certificate, Barack Obama's school records, SAT and LSAT scores, college and law school admission records and grade transcripts and thesis papers, medical records, passport history, Illinois state senate tenure records, presidential campaign foreign donor lists, complete White House visitor logs and other relevant records and documents have all never been released or allowed to be subjected to any sort of scrutiny, despite several years of repeated requests for disclosure by numerous individuals and non-traditional media organizations.

Barack Obama's true origins, past associations, idealogical convictions, behavioral motivations and ongoing relationships are matters of great concern to a fast growing number of Americans of all political persuasions who just want to know the truth about this man.

cashill.com

Posted by: FlashHarry | November 5, 2010 5:43 AM

Opinion polling consistently finds that authenticity is the character trait that is most important to American voters in electing and trusting their leaders and legislators. That a candidate or elected official really is who they say they are and truly believes in what they claim are their beliefs and are not a phony or a fraud or a hypocrite or a liar.

A vast majority of these voters believe that the process of running for the office of President of the United States should be the toughest public job interview on the planet.

The sad fact remains that Barack Obama could not be hired as a janitor in a federal building with the amount of verifiable personal information that he has produced.

The mainstream media has given Barack Obama a remarkable free pass on this basic issue of personal truth and transparency. It had become customary in postwar or modern times for presidential candidates to allow for the release and scrutiny of the substantive body of their personal records and credentials, indeed up until 2008 in large measure precisely because of a strong interest from the mainstream media.

The appearance of Barack Obama on the national political scene changed all of that. It is certainly appropriate to consider why he received such a special exception from this important traditional practice.

In their eagerness to "make history" by covering the campaign of the man whom they were clearly interested in helping to become the first black president, the mainstream media failed in their essential national responsibility, namely to report on significant events with thoroughness and impartial objectivity. They ignored their duty to search for the truth and should be regarded with disdain by all people who value information in a free society.

Democratic incumbents at all levels of government, as well as rank and file voters, might well demand to know exactly how Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and the rest of their party leadership allowed a person who was obviously given only the ridiculously cursory sort of vetting to become their presidential nominee.

It is certainly true that in a few past instances a modern presidential candidate has been less than completely forthcoming in complying with this tradition of disclosure. John F Kennedy's medical records were allegedly sanitized to conceal his diagnosis with Addison's disease and history of treatments for STD related maladies. Lyndon Johnson's financial records were allegedly altered to conceal the extent of his commercial and investment holdings. George W. Bush's national guard service records were allegedly missing or incomplete regarding his attendance and compliance with some standard regulations.

All of these instances pale in comparison to the astounding totality of concealment of practically every record and document from Obama's past. Virtually the entire paper trail of his existence continues to remain deeply hidden away in a tight shroud of secrecy.

cashill.com

Posted by: FlashHarry | November 5, 2010 5:06 AM

Barack Obama is fortunate that a judicious and practical House Oversight Chairman such as Darrell Issa is expected to be will probably spare him the personal ordeal of probing what is perhaps his greatest political liability.

Astute observers in corridors of power around the world as well as other quarters understand that the growing international awareness of the fact that Barack Obama continues to conceal virtually the entire paper trail of his existence from birth to the White House is steadily morphing into a basic issue of personal truth and transparency that will undoubtably impact his chances for re-election.

American voters remember that the Obama 2008 campaign repeatedly promised that their administration would uphold the highest possible standards with a particular emphasis on transparency and accountability.

The sad fact remains that Barack Obama could not be hired as a janitor in a federal building with the amount of verifiable personal information that he has produced.

Barack Obama's original typewritten long form birth certificate, school records, SAT and LSAT scores, college and law school admission records and grade transcripts and thesis papers, medical records, passport history, Illinois state senate tenure records, presidential campaign foreign donor lists, complete White House visitor logs and other relevant records and documents have all never been released or allowed to be subjected to any sort of scrutiny, despite several years of repeated requests for disclosure by numerous individuals and non-traditional media organizations.

The Obama 2008 campaign and subsequent administration have to date spent a considerable sum on legal fees, estimated in the millions of dollars, to fight Freedom of Information Act filings and other requests to examine this material.

A computer generated laser printed short form version of a birth certificate that a child could have forged was posted on the Obama 2008 campaign website, but it only served to intensify the filings and requests to see the original typewritten long form document, which has never been released or allowed to be scrutinized.

They also produced a one page letter from a physician attesting that Barack Obama was in excellent health for a man of his age.

This constitutes the complete extent of any release or disclosure of any records or documents from Obama's past.

Virtually the entire paper trail of his existence continues to remain deeply hidden away in a tight shroud of secrecy.

Barack Obama and his handlers were able to successfully hide his past and explain away and minimize his associations with controversial individuals and groups during their 2008 campaign.

It will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for them to effectively repeat this deception of American voters between now and 6 November 2012.

What is being hidden and why are they hiding it?

cashill.com

Posted by: FlashHarry | November 5, 2010 4:41 AM

Issa has already announced what he intends to do and it ain't exactly statesmanlike. We can only hope that the American people will see through the waste of time and resources caused by the frivolous and nonsensical "investigations" which will be coming down the pike.

Posted by: ejs2 | November 5, 2010 4:38 AM

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