Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Is Issa On To Something?

As the incoming Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Darrell Issa (R-Ca) will be critical to Republican hopes of defeating Obama in 2012. Indeed, as the point man for Congressional oversight over the Obama administration, Issa occupies a position that could let him destroy Obama. . . or could destroy the Republicans amid charges of witch hunts and grandstanding. At this point, I’m still not sold that Issa’s plan will be good for the Republicans, but I’m starting to get a good feeling.

Prior to the election, Issa made a lot of very aggressive noises about dragging administration people before his committee to explain everything he could dream up. This sounded like his plan was to conduct round-the-clock witch hunts in the hopes that the spectacle of constant investigations would damage the Obama Administration. That would have reflected very poorly on the Republicans, particularly at a time when people are starting to demand greater results from their representatives and less political grandstanding.

But a week ago, Issa softened his tone and started sounding more statesman-like, talking about trying to work with the White House rather than beating them up. He even met with Joe Biden and declared that there would be no reason to use subpoenas to drag people before his committee. That sounded doubly-positive. For while I don’t want witch hunts, which always backfire, I do want solid investigations of issues where the Obama Administration has failed or has violated the law and I want to see legislation introduced to correct those problems.

Yesterday, Issa issued his list of investigations, and again I wasn’t too thrilled. The list seemed like a grab bag of unrelated issues that had more to do with re-fighting the blame game for the financial meltdown than it did anything approaching the kinds of oversight that are needed today -- oversight like restricting unaccountable czars, accounting for slush funds, and repealing stifling regulations.

Then a key new fact emerged regarding Issa’s plan. Apparently, he has sent letters to 150 trade associations and companies, in which he asks them to identify the regulations that have been put into place that are restricting job creation and growth. I see this as brilliant on many levels:

● First, this should be a wonderful education for the public on the nature of regulation and its connection to the creation/destruction of jobs.

● Secondly, if done properly, these hearings will result in a steady drumbeat of business leaders (not Republican Congressmen) bashing the Obama administration and its policies. This should lead to a devastating public relations nightmare for an Obama Administration that is already seen as anti-business.

● Third, this should actually result in useful legislation that targets the most harmful regulations and seeks their repeal. Indeed, done properly, this could easily lead to a deregulatory wave of the like not seen since the Reagan Administration, and could easily sweep away recent power grabs like the EPA’s attempt to regulate carbon and the FCC’s attempt to impose net neutrality.
To me, this is one of those pleasant surprises where you start to think that the people you’ve put your faith into may actually know what they’re doing.

Add in that the Democrats are taking the wrong tact on ObamaCare and this has quickly turned into a hopeful week -- rather than defending ObamaCare across the board as a single item, the Democrats are mistakenly defending only the popular parts, e.g. plugging the “donut hole” and covering the uninsurable. If the Democrats aren’t careful, the Republicans will call their bluff on this and will offer a repeal of all but those handful of provisions, and the Democrats will be trapped.

Between this strategic mistake by the Democrats and the solid plan by Issa to let business blast the Obama Administration, this could be a very bad year for the Democrats and their agenda.

Let’s hope.


CrispyRice said...

Nice article. I don't want to see witch hunts either, but this sounds pretty good. I would love to see them get rid of a lot of these regulations Obama's put in place that make it harder for people to find jobs and for our economy to take off.

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, Thanks! I hope that's where Issa's heading. I'm not thrilled with the list of topics he released in general, but I think the idea of bringing in business leaders to come identify specific regulations that need to go has the potential of really cutting through a lot of red tape and freeing up our economy.

Plus, it should make for very bad PR for the Obama and the Democrats. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

patti said...

i too am wary of investigations by the republicans. i see other issues that are looming larger: repeal healthcare.

but when i got to the part where you wrote this: Then a key new fact emerged regarding Issa’s plan. Apparently, he has sent letters to 150 trade associations and companies, in which he asks them to identify the regulations that have been put into place that are restricting job creation and growth.

i actually felt my breath catch. this could be very big. and if the republicans stay the course of the last election, and the people's will, well there is tremendous hope for this new day, isn't there.

great entry, bud.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Patti! I have the same thought when I heard about that. Until that moment, it felt like they were wasting their time and energy planning to dig into things that no one would ultimately care about. But when I saw the idea of bringing in tons of business leaders to come explain how our government should be run, it was an eye-opener. That could be an incredible moment if they run this right -- not only in terms of damaging the Democrats but in terms of actually doing something that could make our country and our economy stronger!

I really hope they follow through with this! There could be some very good days ahead for our nation! :-)

T_Rav said...

Andrew, what's your take on his decision not to go after the whole Sestak thing? Because a lot of conservatives are up in arms over it, and from what I know, it seems like this has the potential to result in some felony charges for members of the Administration, if not Obama himself.

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, Honestly, I think it's good they're letting it go.

It probably was illegal (actually, almost certainly), but it's not the kind of crime that resonates with the public -- it's the kind of crime that surprises the public when they found out it's even illegal.

In those kinds of circumstances, you hope that the prosecutor takes down the criminals, but you don't turn it into a campaign issue and you certainly don't make it part of your policy to pursue it.

Especially right now, the public hasn't given themselves over to the Republicans, we are in a trial period. The public is watching the Republicans to see if they have a plan to solve the nation's problems, fix the economy, and get the government out of our private lives. To jump into investigating something that the public really won't care about, and which has nothing to do with those goals, can only lead to the belief that the Republicans are vindictive and more interested in scoring political points than getting the right things done.

Moreover, this is so tangential to the legal issues that need to be fixed at DOJ and in the law, that pursuing it will only lead to a wasted political effort and a distraction from the real issues -- like the racial problems at DOJ and whether or not DOJ is throwing cases for political reasons. I would rather see the Republicans choose more important battles that appear less politically motivated.

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. T_Rav, I understand the frustration of some conservatives -- rule of law is the foundation of democracy and the democrats are mighty good at evading the rule of law when it's their own who are caught -- but in politics you need to pick and choose not only your battles, but how you fight them.

If the Republicans had chosen shame and maybe censure as their only attack against Clinton, he would have destroyed himself trying to prove he was a good guy. But by attacking him, they made him into a victim and all he had to do was play the role of victim to succeed.

I see this as something similar -- there is nothing to be gained, and lots of be lost. Those are the kinds of fights that will please activists, but will do much more harm that good.

Tennessee Jed said...

Cool beans, Andrew. Sometimes watching Republicans is like watching a movie where you can see what is going on while the dramatis personae cannot. The audience keeps calling out to the screen, but the actors can't hear, of course, and don't take the audience's advise. Still, let us hope indeed!

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I get that feeling a lot from the Republicans. In fact, over the years, I've often found myself yelling at my news screen, "don't do that... can't you see what they're doing?!!" So I was very pleasantly surprised when I saw what Issa is doing and the dots suddenly connected for me and I realized that he may really be onto something here.

I will be very impressed and very happy if this turns out the way it appears that it will! :-)

Unknown said...

Andrew: I know we don't want to have banana Republic show trials, but I'm rather enjoying watching the leftists squirm. Much of what he saying and threatening is show simply because change is in the air (the good kind) and many angry voters want some public exposures. But the Issa I know of is a clever politician who will stay within the law and ultimately root out enough actual wrongdoing that he won't have to turn real investigations (or hearings) into political show-trials.

Frankly, until I get real answers to Holder's racist selective prosecution, I hope Issa scares the hell out them. To start with, I want him forced to submit to the subpenas from the Civil Rights Commission concerning the Black Panthers dismissals.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I am honestly impressed with Issa on this. I think the idea of getting business in on this is a brilliant stroke -- and the MSM seems to be "falling for it" as they are putting this story out now as "Issa asks business: tell me what I need to fix." That's exactly how our government should be working and I think people will see it that way!

In terms of DOJ, I agree entirely that they NEED to investigate the racial problems at DOJ. The law needs to be color blind, and there is a lot of credible evidence that the DOJ civil rights division is playing racial favorites, and that needs to be exposed and stopped.

Writer X said...

I hope there are plenty of small business owners too who get to join the discussion.

P.S. Off topic: How many more photos will the news media post of Obama slurping an ice cream cone?! Glad to see Obama getting real serious on job creation, although the only people who seem to be benefitting are owners of snow cone stands and ice cream stores!

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, That's funny! I was thinking about you today when I saw that photo -- knowing your fondness for photos of Obama stuffing ice cream cones in his face. I actually said to myself, "Writer X is not going to like this at all!" LOL!

Apparently the letter went out to 150 different trade associations, so I would hope that would include many small businesses and small business organizations.

T_Rav said...

Andrew, interesting point. Much as I would love to see The One take a major hit over Sestak, guess I'll settle for what we've got, which in all honesty, as I think about it, is pretty darned good. Maybe the GOP won't totally botch this.

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, Don't get me wrong, I would LOVE to see a string of Obama people indicted and taken away in handcuffs. And I'm sure that some deserve it.

But I think that as a political party -- especially one that is just taking over and has yet to prove that we can be trusted to set the right agenda, that would be a bad thing for us to try to make happen unless it's something much more serious or something that truly resonates with the public. I'm not sure this does.

In terms of being happy with the Republicans, I am much more happy than I am disappointed at the moment. There are still many who "don't get it," but there seem to be many more who do. And I've been very pleasantly surprised with much of what I've heard about their plans and their agenda.

I am hopeful. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. If you disagree, feel free to say so. We won't ban you or anything! :-)

I can actually give reasons the other way. For example, I think that you could argue that rule of law is important and that this administration has been flaunting the law in many ways, so it's time to start holding them accountable.

But I'm not honestly convinced that the public would see this as important as say getting our hands around where all the TARP money went, what is going on at DOJ, whether Obama's administrators even worry about the law when they start issuing regulations, etc.

But even beyond that, I think the primary things the public wants before all else is (1) jobs, (2) save our healthcare, (3) get the government out of our private lives, and (4) pay off this debt.

DUQ said...

Andrew, I think you're right that the people are mostly concerned about jobs and the economy. I'm concerned that the Republicans will come off looking like nothing but venegeful idiots if we have too many investigations.

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, That's the fine line that needs to be walked. That's why I'm encouraged that Issa apparently intends to let the witnesses do his job for him. Because if a series of businessmen come in and blast Obama, rather than just Republican Congressmen, it shouldn't look like a partisan witch hunt, but should instead look like the working part of American finally getting to be heard -- especially if the Democrats get nasty in return.

We'll see, but I am hopeful.

Dane said...

I want to see Obama indicted. He deserves it. The whole democrap party should be indicted.

Ed said...

That is good news. I'm actually pretty happy about most of what they've done so far. Even that party the Democrats are making such a big deal about was attended by almost no one from the Republicans. I hope I still feel this happy about them in six months or two years, but for now I'll ride the wave.

AndrewPrice said...

Dane, I want to see the backside of Obama, but I don't know anything he's done that he should be indicted for. I prefer to leave the criminal justice system for handling criminals and the political system for handling politics.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, I'm happy too. Regarding that party, I'm annoyed that it's hit the news cycle and makes the whole party look bad -- especially when the Democrats routinely do the same thing and are never called on it. But I was heartened that the party (particularly the leadership) told their members not to go and that few (if any) actually signed up.

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