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The 112th Congress Thread

Old 01-03-11, 11:36 AM
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The 112th Congress Thread

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0111/46952.html

Darrell Issa reveals list of investigations

Rep. Darrell Issa is aiming to launch investigations on everything from WikiLeaks to Fannie Mae to corruption in Afghanistan in the first few months of what promises to be a high profile chairmanship of the top oversight committee in Congress.

According to an outline of the committee’s hearing topics obtained by POLITICO, the House Oversight and Government Reform is also planning to investigate how regulation impacts job creation, the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the foreclosure crisis; recalls at the Food and Drug Administration and the failure of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission to agree on the causes of the market meltdown.

This sweeping and specific hearing agenda shows that Issa (R-Calif.) plans to cut a wide swath as chairman, latching onto hot button issues that could make his committee the center of attention in the opening months of the 112th Congress. By grabbing such a wide portfolio – especially in national security matters – Issa is also laying down a marker of sorts, which could cement his panel as the go-to place for investigations.

An order for hearings has not been set and witnesses have not yet been notified. The committee staff is still moving offices, and subcommittees are currently being organized. Hearings aren’t likely to begin until late January or early February.

Issa’s broad portfolio of investigations – some of which could the Obama administration — harkens back to the days of Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) squaring off against the Bush administration and Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) picking fights with Bill Clinton’s White House.

"If we can take any lessons away from the results of the midterm elections, it's that the American people will no longer tolerate a government that has institutionalized a culture of waste and abuse that acts carelessly with their tax-dollars,” Issa spokesman Kurt Bardella said in a statement to POLITICO. “As chairman of this committee, Congressman Issa will pursue an agenda that aims to shed light on the failures of government for the purpose of reforming them so that the government is more transparent and accountable to the American people.”

Issa’s counterpart will be Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) as the panel’s top Democrat, who was given the top minority party position in order to be an effective foil to the aggressive Issa. Cummings, who represents Baltimore, Sunday said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that Congress must “be careful with this power” – referring to oversight, and use caution and austerity in hearings.

“You know, I think we — I sat on this committee for 14 years and I watched what happened with the Clinton administration and how witnesses were dragged in to depositions, people making $50,000 a year had to pay $25,000, $30,000 to hire a lawyer,” Cummings said.

In a statement to POLITICO Sunday evening, Cummings said he would “draw a line at which any witch hunts or hearings that are conducted purely for partisan gains.”

“Like Mr. Issa, I want to ask tough questions and ensure the highest standard from our public employees,” Cummings said. “However, I will ask him not to prejudge any of these issues, nor seek answers only to confirm political leanings.”

Despite his bombastic reputation, Issa has tried to project a more subtle image in the days leading up to his takeover of the committee. He’s trying to project an image of being a stickler for government waste and not a partisan bomb thrower with an eye fixed on ruining the Obama administration. A look at the preliminary hearing schedule illustrates that Issa plans to stay away from hurling subpoenas at the White House.

Stimulus oversight isn’t among the early hearings, which may come as a surprise since Issa recently met with Vice President Joe Biden to discuss stimulus spending. In one of his three Sunday show appearances this week, Issa even said Congress should share in the blame for what he considers the mismanagement of the stimulus.

Still, the Issa agenda will take aim at what he believes are missteps by the administration.

In investigating the impact of regulation on job creation, the committee plans to ask why the economy hasn’t “created the private sector jobs the president has promised,” and he’s calling in business leaders to explain “about the government regulations that are doing the most harm to job creation efforts.”

“The committee will examine how overregulation has hurt job creation and whether the administration intends to try and abuse the regulatory process to implement regulations that Congress would reject,” according to an outline of committee hearing topics.

The committee will also delve into international affairs in new depth, examining corruption in Afghanistan and the WikiLeaks disclosures. Issa plans to request testimony from National Security Adviser Tom Donilon to discuss whether the Obama administration has a strategy for combating the leaking of such sensitive information, and he also will call on constitutional experts to discuss how the government can stop organizations from leaking documents of a sensitive nature.

Issa is also pushing a broad investigation of the foreclosure crisis, but he wants to dig deeper into the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – conservatives have long complained that these government-backed housing giants have escaped scrutiny. The committee will also dig into the administration’s foreclosure mitigation program, calling the Federal Housing Administration’s chief and non-government experts. Issa and Cummings have agreed that foreclosures should be the topic of one of the committee’s first hearings.

Issa also wants to study why the financial crisis commission couldn’t reach consensus last year. He’d like to call Phil Angelides and former Rep. Bill Thomas (R-Calif.), the chair and ranking member of the committee, to determine if there was any agreement on the panel in relation to the cause of the meltdown.

The Food and Drug Administration is also going to get a good look, especially in the wake of Issa’s outspokenness about a recall of Motrin.
I know that this just talks about the House Oversight Committee, but if this is going to be the main focus by Republicans for the next two years, I'm going to be greatly disappointed. The only thing I saw that looked halfway promising was the investigate how regulation impacts job creation. In some roundabout way it might help the economy in the future.
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Old 01-03-11, 11:48 AM
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Re: The 112th Congress Thread

Issa’s broad portfolio of investigations – some of which could the Obama administration — harkens back to the days of Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) squaring off against the Bush administration and Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) picking fights with Bill Clinton’s White House.
I accidentally the whole thing?
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Old 01-03-11, 01:47 PM
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Re: The 112th Congress Thread

Where are the jobs?
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Old 01-03-11, 02:30 PM
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Re: The 112th Congress Thread

Worst. Congress. Ever.
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Old 01-03-11, 02:34 PM
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Re: The 112th Congress Thread

More investigations and hearings? Awesome!
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Old 01-03-11, 02:46 PM
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Re: The 112th Congress Thread

I'm just glad he isn't grandstanding in hopes of garnering the praise of ideologues and personal gain.

Issa says Obama administration is 'one of most corrupt'

By Philip Rucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 2, 2011; 7:33 PM

The Republican congressman who is taking over responsibility for congressional oversight called President Obama's administration "one of the most corrupt administrations" on Sunday and predicted that the investigations he is planning over the next two years could result in about $200 billion in savings for U.S. taxpayers.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the incoming chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, was bullish in laying out his agenda for the new Congress with Republicans in control of the House.

Issa, who as chairman will have subpoena power, said he will seek to ferret out waste across the federal bureaucracy. While he used fiery rhetoric in describing the Obama administration in a series of television interviews Sunday, he said he will focus on wasteful spending, not the prosecution of White House officials.

Asked on "Fox News Sunday" about reports that the White House is staffing up on lawyers to prepare for his oversight hearings, Issa said: "They're going to need more accountants.

"It's more of an accounting function than legal function," Issa said. "It's more about the inspector generals than it is about lawyers in the White House. And the sooner the administration figures out that the enemy is the bureaucracy and the wasteful spending, not the other party, the better off we'll be."

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), who as ranking Democrat on Issa's committee will be the administration's chief defender during oversight investigations, criticized Issa for his partisan tone.

"I couldn't help but think about the fact he has called this president the most corrupt in history," Cummings said on CNN's "State of the Union," referencing a comment Issa made to radio host Rush Limbaugh last fall but has since dialed back.

"Keep in mind, Issa will have subpoena power to subpoena almost anybody he wants to," the congressman from Baltimore said. "And that's a problem when you come to these conclusions before you even bring people in. . . . I think that we're just going to have to be careful with this power."

Issa also was sharply critical of Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., stopping short of calling for his resignation. He said the Justice Department has not properly investigated the publication of thousands of classified diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Issa said Holder should prosecute Assange as a criminal.

"I think [Holder] needs to realize that, for example, WikiLeaks, if the president says, 'I can't deal with this guy as a terrorist,' then he has to be able to deal with him as a criminal," Issa said on "Fox News Sunday." "Otherwise, the world is laughing at this paper tiger we've become.

"He's hurting this administration," Issa said of Holder. "If you're hurting the administration, either stop hurting the administration or leave."

Issa said he plans to lead bipartisan investigations on food and drug safety, as well as Medicare fraud.

"We can save $125 billion in simply not giving out money to Medicare recipients that don't exist for procedures that didn't happen," Issa said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "These are real dollars. Ten percent of the deficit goes out in wasted money - money that doesn't get one person health care in Medicare."

On the CNN show, Issa said: "When I look at waste, fraud and abuse in the bureaucracy and in the government, this is like steroids to pump up the muscles of waste."
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Old 01-03-11, 02:58 PM
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Re: The 112th Congress Thread

"We can save $125 billion in simply not giving out money to Medicare recipients that don't exist for procedures that didn't happen," Issa said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "These are real dollars. Ten percent of the deficit goes out in wasted money - money that doesn't get one person health care in Medicare."
where does he get that number from?
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Old 01-03-11, 03:01 PM
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Re: The 112th Congress Thread

I guess they come from Obama:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/...yment-progress

Now, because many of the targeted programs – such as Unemployment Insurance and Medicaid – are paying out more benefits as the economic downturn creates more demand for these benefits, the total number paid out in improper payments increased to $125 billion last fiscal year even though the overall error rate declined. This is an unfortunate result of the recession and of basic math: the more that is paid out, the more paid out in error even if the overall rate declines.
Although it appears that waste isn't restricted to just Medicare.
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Old 01-03-11, 03:32 PM
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Re: The 112th Congress Thread

They won't live in D.C. either

http://news.yahoo.com/s/dailybeast/1...temoregridlock

The Daily Beast and Newsweek can only find one new member of Congress who plans to move his family to Washington.

This phenomenon has ramifications far beyond absent parents and poorly attended First Lady Lunches. It's another component that portends a new level of Capitol Hill gridlock. Real legislating—the compromises and dealmaking that distinguish politics from posturing—happens only among people who know and respect each other. Family life has always been crucial to that chemistry. During Lyndon Johnson's presidency, first lady historian Carl Anthony points out, gritty negotiations with congressional Republicans, led by Gerald Ford, were often smoothed over by Lady Bird Johnson and Betty Ford, cultivated during long years as congressional wives.

There's also a difference in tone. If you live across the street from your political opponent, if you know his kids, if you've been to dinner at his house, "it's impossible to go up on the floor of the Senate or in the media and blast him the next day," says Trent Lott, former Senate leader from Mississippi. If, on the other hand, you live on the road and your spouse is back home, raising the kids and running the family business by herself, bipartisan socializing might not be your first priority.

More partisan bickering?
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Old 01-03-11, 04:10 PM
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Re: The 112th Congress Thread

Originally Posted by Venusian View Post
where does he get that number from?
I thought the Repubs were calling that "cuts" in Medicare two months ago?
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Old 01-03-11, 04:18 PM
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Re: The 112th Congress Thread

Originally Posted by CRM114 View Post
I thought the Repubs were calling that "cuts" in Medicare two months ago?
The waste?
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Old 01-03-11, 04:35 PM
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Re: The 112th Congress Thread

Originally Posted by Venusian View Post
where does he get that number from?
A proctologist with a flashlight?
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Old 01-03-11, 05:01 PM
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Re: The 112th Congress Thread

Originally Posted by Venusian View Post
They won't live in D.C. either

http://news.yahoo.com/s/dailybeast/1...temoregridlock

More partisan bickering?
This is yet another bullshit article from a journalist who doesn't know what they're talking about. Congress is more partisan now than in the past because each party is more ideologically distinct than in the past. All Democrats are left of center, and all Republicans are right of center. There's no overlap anymore. The days of John Stennis and Jacob Javits are over, maybe never to return.

But sure, blame it on some meaningless explanation like the lack of neighborhood barbecues or the fact that Harry Reid's wife doesn't have Mitch McConnell's wife over for tea, and ignore the changed shape of ideology in Congress. Because that would be tedious to read.
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Old 01-03-11, 05:06 PM
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Re: The 112th Congress Thread

Originally Posted by wendersfan View Post
This is yet another bullshit article from a journalist who doesn't know what they're talking about. Congress is more partisan now than in the past because each party is more ideologically distinct than in the past. All Democrats are left of center, and all Republicans are right of center. There's no overlap anymore. The days of John Stennis and Jacob Javits are over, maybe never to return.

But sure, blame it on some meaningless explanation like the lack of neighborhood barbecues or the fact that Harry Reid's wife doesn't have Mitch McConnell's wife over for tea, and ignore the changed shape of ideology in Congress. Because that would be tedious to read.
Unless it was accompanied by graphs. Lots of graphs.
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Old 01-03-11, 05:10 PM
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Re: The 112th Congress Thread

That article is idiotic. About 20 years ago, when I was in junior high, my dad served a couple terms in the House. My mom, baby sister and I all lived in the Congressional district. Dad would fly to D.C. every Monday morning (shared two floors of a townhouse with another member) and return every Friday evening, so he could spend pretty much the full weekend out in the community. This didn't hurt his ability to legislate -- it made sure people realized he was still part of the community, so he could actually be re-elected.
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Old 01-03-11, 05:20 PM
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Re: The 112th Congress Thread

Who wants representatives becoming completely out of touch with their district by having their entire family move to D.C.? They would only come back when they needed to campaign for the next election.

They need to keep their mistresses in D.C. and their families in their district (if they even live in their district - yes, Garamendi, I'm looking at you.)
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Old 01-03-11, 06:32 PM
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Re: The 112th Congress Thread

NYT has a piece on Grayson's exit from congress. The usual Republicans are nazis, Dems should be more leftist, blah blah. I'm wondering how long until he gets a show on radio or MSNBC?
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Old 01-03-11, 06:46 PM
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Re: The 112th Congress Thread

Originally Posted by wmansir View Post
NYT has a piece on Grayson's exit from congress. The usual Republicans are nazis, Dems should be more leftist, blah blah. I'm wondering how long until he gets a show on radio or MSNBC?
He named his sons "Stone" and "Storm"? I'm glad he lost.
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Old 01-03-11, 06:47 PM
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Re: The 112th Congress Thread

Originally Posted by Venusian View Post
They won't live in D.C. either

http://news.yahoo.com/s/dailybeast/1...temoregridlock




More partisan bickering?
So now it's bad that law-makers want to live with their constituents instead of in DC? Historically, it's not even that unusual -- in the 19th Century, Congresscritters often lived in rooming houses. Even today, it's not unusual for them to share a house in Georgetown while their families stay in their homestate.
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Old 01-03-11, 06:54 PM
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Re: The 112th Congress Thread

Originally Posted by wendersfan View Post
This is yet another bullshit article from a journalist who doesn't know what they're talking about. Congress is more partisan now than in the past because each party is more ideologically distinct than in the past. All Democrats are left of center, and all Republicans are right of center. There's no overlap anymore. The days of John Stennis and Jacob Javits are over, maybe never to return.
Oh, puh-leeze.

Originally Posted by Wikipedia
Preston Brooks, the nephew of Senator Butler, was infuriated by Sumner's attacks on his uncle. At first, Brooks intended to challenge Sumner to a duel. To this end, Brooks consulted with fellow South Carolina Representative Laurence M. Keitt on dueling etiquette. Keitt instructed him that dueling was for gentlemen of equal social standing, and suggested that Sumner occupied a lower social status comparable to a drunkard due to the supposedly coarse language he had used during his speech. Brooks concluded in turn that since Sumner was not of his social standing, it would be more appropriate to beat him with his cane.

Two days later, on the afternoon of May 22, Brooks confronted Sumner as he sat writing at his desk in the almost empty Senate chamber. Brooks was accompanied to the chamber by Keitt and Henry A. Edmundson of Virginia (the latter taking no part in the assault). Brooks addressed Sumner, "Mr. Sumner, I have read your speech twice over carefully. It is a libel on South Carolina, and Mr. Butler, who is a relative of mine." As Sumner began to stand up, Brooks began beating Sumner severely on the head with a thick gutta-percha cane with a gold head before he could reach his feet. Sumner was knocked down and trapped under the heavy desk (which was bolted to the floor), but Brooks continued to bash Sumner until Brooks ripped the desk from the floor. By this time, Sumner was blinded by his own blood, and he staggered up the aisle and collapsed, lapsing into unconsciousness. Brooks continued to beat the motionless Sumner until his cane broke at which point he left the chamber. Several other senators attempted to help Sumner, but were blocked by Keitt who brandished a pistol and shouted, "Let them be!". Keitt would be censured for his actions and later died of wounds in 1864 while fighting for the Confederacy.

Sumner did not attend the Senate for the next three years while recovering from the attack.
Anyone who thinks American politics are outrageously partisan these days needs to read up on 18th and 19th Century politics.
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Old 01-03-11, 08:08 PM
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Re: The 112th Congress Thread

Originally Posted by CRM114 View Post
Where are the jobs?
Everywhere. Obama won.
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Old 01-03-11, 08:11 PM
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Re: The 112th Congress Thread

Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
Everywhere. Obama won.
Yes, but the dirty Republicans stole all the shovels.
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Old 01-03-11, 09:54 PM
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Re: The 112th Congress Thread

Originally Posted by Thor Simpson View Post
Yes, but the dirty Republicans stole all the shovels.

How else did you expect me to start up my shovel selling business? The damn things don't grow on trees.
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Old 01-04-11, 06:38 AM
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Re: The 112th Congress Thread

Originally Posted by Sean O'Hara View Post
Oh, puh-leeze.

Anyone who thinks American politics are outrageously partisan these days needs to read up on 18th and 19th Century politics.
I was really only referring to the last century or so, but hey, whatever.
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Old 01-04-11, 07:47 AM
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Re: The 112th Congress Thread

The Democratic Congress never held any investigatory hearings about the Bush administration - or did they?
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