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California Representative Darrell Issa (CA-49) has been a thorn in the side of the Obama administration since the president took the oath of office. Now that Issa is being elevated to the chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the congressman will have the power to shine a light on a host of matters and policies that many on the Right find to be of questionable value at best and downright destructive at worst. Preliminary reports indicate that Issa’s ambitious agenda will cover a host of areas that badly need attention. Yet, even if Issa and his committee investigate such issues, the ultimate question remains: will this finally be the Congress with the will and the courage to do something when problems are identified, or will our representatives shy away from making tough, unpopular decisions once again?
According to an interview he did with Fox, the first thing on Issa’s agenda will be a hearing to examine the impacts of excessive regulation on job creation. “We need to start by asking a very fundamental question: Why hasn’t the economy created the private-sector jobs the president promised?” Issa asked in a memo describing the hearing. It’s a timely question, given continuing economic doldrums and high unemployment, so this would seem to be a good place for the Oversight and Government Reform Committee to start. If the public and both parties cannot be convinced that excessive bureaucratic interference is economic poison after two years of recession, there’s little chance that free market sanity will ever prevail again.
Issa also plans to use his committee to closely examine the roles that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac played in 2008’s economic meltdown. Those on the Left who insist on blaming the burst of the housing bubble solely on capitalist greed will surely gnash their teeth when these hearings are held. Denials by Barney Frank and his ilk notwithstanding, Fannie and Freddie played a huge role – arguably the biggest role – in creating the economic disaster that continues to fester today. A thorough investigation into the sorts of lending policies that Fannie and Freddie encouraged and/or demanded, despite repeated warnings that such policies could only end in catastrophe, is desperately needed.
Other items high on Issa’s agenda are investigations to determine exactly how the Obama administration spent trillions in TARP and stimulus money, a look at corruption in Afghanistan and a closer examination of the Wikileaks scandal. Everyone, of any political persuasion, ought to welcome these kind of hearings. Yet, despite Issa’s avowed intent to maintain a bipartisan approach, it would be the height of naiveté to believe that party rancor and ideology won’t – as it always does – quickly and loudly intrude into the proceedings. One can only hope that the chairman and committee members from both parties will have the guts to stick to their guns and answer the tough questions, no matter where the investigations lead.
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