On October 19 in the midst of the final sprint of the midterm elections Rep. Darrell Issa, the incoming chairman of the house Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, told Rush Limbaugh that President Obama is “one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times.”
The California Republican has since walked back his remarks, telling CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday:
In saying that this is one of the most corrupt administrations, which is what I meant to say there, when you hand out $1 trillion in TARP just before this president came in, most of it unspent, $1 trillion nearly in stimulus that this president asked for, plus this huge expansion in health care and government, it has a corrupting effect.
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.
Issa even added two new subcommittees: one to investigate Tarp and one to oversee stimulus funds. Still, in most recent interviews Issa has hardly mentioned the stimulus and on CNN he conceded that Obama wasn’t totally to blame for this “corrupting effect”:
All of that would not have been possible if Congress had done its job, if we’d said, Mr. President, in the case of President Bush, what is it you need; tell us blow by blow, dollar by dollar, and we will give you the money on a case by case basis.
Issa is everywhere these days. On three Sunday shows. In the L.A. Times and Politico. In fact, this morning his office released a list of investigations Issa is planning to Politico:
- the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the foreclosure crisis
- corruption in Afghanistan
- how regulation impacts job creation
- recalls at the Food and Drug Administration
- the failure of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission to agree on the causes of the market meltdown
Noticeably absent? The stimulus. Issa on CNN talked about the “wonderful” call he’d had with Vice President Joe Biden about targeting abuse. And he’s recently met with Biden and Earl Devaney, who is leading the independent Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, a watch dog set up to ensure that stimulus funds haven’t been abused. As my colleague Michael Grunwald notes, Devaney has been pretty successful in his endeavors – or, rather, the Obama Administration has been careful enough with the doling out of the funds to give Devaney little to find — which was what, perhaps, has made the topic unsexy for Issa.
When asked about this oversight of oversight, Issa’s spokesman Kurt Bardella said the list released to Politico was “not a list of priorities. It’s just a list of some of the things that we’re going to do,” Bardella said. “We will, I’m sure, have hearings on the stimulus over the next year, I have no doubt about that. How the money’s being spent, how it’s reported.”