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Posts Tagged ‘Darrell Issa’

POST OFFICE REFORM IS REAL and IT’S FROM DARRELL ISSA

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Darrell Issa has been waging an under-the-radar campaign to save the Postal Service for years now. The most recent iteration of his plan, the Postal Reform Act, would save $17 billion over the next ten years for the USPS. The major changes would be giving the USPS the ability to eliminate Saturday delivery and encouraging curbside rather than doorstep drop-offs.

Additionally, it would eliminate what the postal workers’ union has claimed is the major deficit on the USPS budget: a requirement that the USPS pre-fund retirement benefits to the tune of over $6 billion per year.

In both eliminating the pre-funding requirement and giving the USPS the ability to be more flexible with their mandates, Darrell Issa’s reform should hit all the right buttons. And the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget wrote up the CBO score for Issa’s bill favorably:

The bulk of the savings would come from two changes in mail delivery. The first would authorize the Postal Service to eliminate Saturday mail delivery, which CBO expects it would do, saving $11 billion over ten years. The second would require the USPS to increase the use of curbside and centralized delivery, rather than delivering directly to people’s doors. This change would save $8 billion. In addition, the bill would save smaller amounts from eliminating annual appropriations to reimburse USPS for free and reduced-rate mail ($800 million) and from increasing rates on bypass mail delivered to Alaska ($170 million).

The Postal Reform Act represents a responsible approach to fixing the Postal Service’s finances. Congress should not hesitate to act, especially given the trouble the USPS is having in meeting its contribution obligations for future health benefits.

I’ve written more about the Post Office and the prospects for reform here.

Issa-staffer-gunrunner-investigation-points-much-higher-than-atf-director

By Matthew Boyle – The Daily Caller

A spokesman for House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa told The Daily Caller the congressman expects his investigations into the Justice Department’s gun walking programs to point to a much higher political appointee than acting ATF director Kenneth Melson.

Melson is widely expected to resign some time in the next couple of days in the face of political pressure from Issa’s investigations into Project Gunrunner and Operation Fast Furious.

Even if Melson resigns, Issa spokesman Frederick Hill said the Committee expects to find much more and continue with investigations.

“The investigations are far from over,” Hill told TheDC. “It’s quite certain that Kenneth Melson was not the principal architect of this plan nor was he the only high-ranking official who knew about and authorized this operation.” (WHAT DID THEY KNOW? Top two ATF officials ‘briefed weekly’ on ‘Fast and Furious’)

Project Gunrunner and Operation Fast and Furious were programs that involved ATF officials allowing guns to be taken into Mexico with the ultimate apparent goal of tracking the larger Mexican drug cartels’ arms market.

The ATF officials allowed the sale of guns to “straw purchasers,” or people who were eligible to purchase guns in the U.S. but were doing so with the known intention of trafficking them into Mexico.

This latest development comes after Issa told Fox News on Tuesday morning that he thinks Melson should resign.

“He was part of the bad judgment. And when I say bad judgment, it wasn’t just him,” Issa said on Fox News. “They had to go to Justice to get money, to get FBI agents, all of the other people that helped coordinate this, and to get the wiretaps they used. This was a program so stupid from the start.”

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2011/06/21/issa-staffer-gunrunner-investigation-points-much-higher-than-atf-director/#ixzz1Pxnm9pwW

 

REP. DARRELL ISSA SUBPOENAS THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FOR WHO AUTHORIZED – ‘PROJECT GUNRUNNER’

Posted on April 1, 2011 at 5:44pm by  Emily Esfahani Smith

Rep. Darrell Issa, the California Republican who is Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, told CBS News that he has subpoenaed documents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) regarding Project Gunrunner. The ATF, which is in the Justice Department, has so far refused to release information about the “gunrunner” controversy.

Republican Rep. Darrell Issa fired off a subpoena Friday to the Justice Department agency in the middle of a cross-border gun sales operation that has been blamed for a massive flow of arms to Mexican drug cartels and possibly the death of a U.S. border agent.

Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, demanded the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives provide him documents related to “Project Gunrunner” after the agency failed to respond to questions by a Wednesday deadline.

“The unwillingness of this administration — most specifically the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms — to answer questions about this deadly serious matter is deeply troubling,” Issa said in a written statement. “Allegations surrounding this program are serious and the ability of the Justice Department to conduct an impartial investigation is in question. Congressional oversight is necessary to get the truth about what is really happening.”….

In his statement Friday, Issa said the president did not specify whether Holder was aware of the policy or who did authorize it.

“One of the questions we always ask is who is lying,” Issa told Fox News earlier this week. ”We lose our credibility if we don’t come clean and make the changes necessary to save lives on both sides of the border.”

 

 

Issa: America’s Mandate – Target Gov’t Waste, Fraud, Abuse & Barriers to Job Creation

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gsey0NKCPQs[/youtube]

President Obama snubs Issa on first major document deadline

By Jonathan Strong | Published: 3:36 PM 02/01/2011 | Updated: 1:59 AM 02/02/201


The Obama administration snubbed top GOP oversight official Rep. Darrell Issa on his first major document deadline as new chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sending a short letter promising to comply in response to a major information request that was due Saturday at noon.

But Issa is hitting back Tuesday with a demand key documents be sent in two days.

The Obama snub is the first sign of how the administration will respond to demands for documents and testimony by key officials from Republicans in control of the House now that the GOP holds the power of congressional subpoena.

A Jan. 28 letter from the Department of Homeland Security promised to cooperate with Issa’s document request sent Jan. 14 – but Issa’s deadline for the documents expired the next day.

“I asked DHS to produce this information by Jan. 29 – two weeks from the date of my second letter,” Issa says in his Feb. 1 reply to the deadline snub, “The department gave no indication that it would not be able to comply with the deadline.”

Further, Issa charges that top DHS officials actually instructed career employees not to search for the documents he is requesting.

“I was disappointed to learn that on or about Jan. 20, 2011, DHS’s Office of General Counsel instructed career staff in the Privacy Office not to search for documents responsive to my request,” Issa says in the Feb. 1 letter.

Issa is requesting documents from DHS about political interference with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the agency.

In July, the Associated Press reported top DHS officials told career employees to steer sensitive FOIA requests to Obama’s political advisers for unusual scrutiny.

FOIA requests by lawmakers, watchdog groups and journalists were subjected to the special political reviews.

In his response to the deadline snub, Issa demands a set of key documents in two days, including e-mails between key DHS officials and the Obama White House.

Issa says the e-mails should be easy to find because all White House staff use similar e-mail addresses.

“As you know, e-mail to and from the White House is identifiable by the handle ‘@who.eop.gov’,” Issa says.

Further, Issa requests transcribed interviews with six top DHS officials about the issue, including Noah Kroloff, chief of staff to DHS Sec. Janet Napolitano. The interviews are set to begin the week of Feb. 7.

The Jan. 28 response from DHS to the document request says the agency is “in the process of retrieving other responsive documents” besides those already disclosed by the agency, which it says include “over a thousand pages of documents” and briefings to lawmakers including Issa.

But Issa says in his response to the deadline snub, “That statement is misleading. To date, DHS has produced six pages of documents and provided one briefing to this committee.”

In July, DHS published 1,051 pages of documents related to its FOIA process on its website. Issa says in his letter these documents are “heavily redacted” and requests unredacted copies by Feb. 3. An Issa spokesman notes the documents were not released to the committee.

Several passages of the letter appear to indicate Issa is receiving information on potential impropriety at DHS from someone inside the agency.

For instance, Issa mentions that “during the week of Jan. 10, 2011, my staff obtained material that called into question the statements supplied by the Department during” a September briefing on the issue.

Additionally, Issa includes his charge that career employees were instructed not to search for documents responsive to his request.

Bobby Whithorne, a DHS spokesman, defended the agency’s record on FOIA when contacted Monday about whether DHS met the weekend deadline.

“The Department responded directly to Chairman Issa last week.  Our record is clear, under this Administration, the Department has reduced the FOIA backlog by 84%, released over 138,000 FOIA requests in the past year, the most of any federal agency, and substantially reduced the amount of time it takes to process FOIA requests,” Whithorne said.

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2011/02/01/president-obama-snubs-issa-on-first-major-document-deadline/#ixzz1CnTNPlrt

Representative Darrell Issa of California says that the government needs “to go on a diet”

The Republican, RepresentativeDarrell Issa of California, who will take over as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has said the government needs “to go on a diet” to help erase the annual budget deficit of $1.4 trillion. His goal as chairman, he said in a recent speech, is to “focus on places where money can be saved, where we can literally close agencies or subagencies or programs.”

It is a far broader policy mandate than was embraced by predecessors in both parties, who viewed their role as chief Congressional inquisitor of the executive administration. “What my committee has to do is, it has to stretch what it has done in the past,” Mr. Issa said.

His agenda may surprise some Congressional Democrats and White House officials who are bracing for Mr. Issa to paper Washington with investigative subpoenas in a broader crusade to bring down President Obama.

But it is in sync with the Republican leadership’s desire to be seen as concentrating on problems of concern to voters rather than partisan combat. The soon-to-be House speaker, John A. Boehner, has told top Republicans on every committee that their efforts, including oversight of government operations, should focus on the economy and jobs and especially on ferreting out waste, fraud and abuse with an eye toward cutting spending.

Mr. Issa has already drawn up a list of big targets: $40 billion a year in fraud or waste in Medicare; tens of billions of dollars in subsidies to the government-controlled mortgage giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; $8.5 billion in losses by the Postal Service in the last fiscal year; tens of millions of dollars spent on redundant programs within federal agencies or squandered through corrupt contracting procedures.

Mr. Boehner and Mr. Issa are also counting on other Congressional committees to step up their oversight efforts. The Ways and Means Committee, for instance, along with the Energy and Commerce Committee, will pick apart aspects of the new health care law. The Financial Services Committee will scrutinize the administration’s efforts to tighten regulation of Wall Street.

For Mr. Issa’s committee, which can delve into any corner of the government, the more policy-driven crusade is purposely devised to steer clear of the reputation for hectoring and henpecking that Congressional Republicans earned during the Clinton administration when they issued more than 1,000 subpoenas and repeatedly tied White House lawyers into knots, ultimately impeaching the president.

To that end, Mr. Issa has sought to play down the unfettered power to compel testimony and force the production of documents through subpoenas that he will gain with his new post in January. Instead, he has put greater emphasis in recent weeks on pursuing legislation to grant subpoena power to the inspectors general in dozens of federal agencies, internal watchdogs who he believes are even better-positioned to hunt for waste.

The current oversight committee chairman, Representative Edolphus Towns, Democrat of New York, and Mr. Issa jointly supported a bill authorizing subpoena powers for inspectors general, but Democratic leaders did not make it a priority.

The focus on spending may create less tension than more politically focused inquiries, like investigating what inducements White House officials might have offered Democratic primary challengers to step aside in favor of the Democratic Party’s preferred candidates.

But there is still likely to be a blizzard of investigations compared with the last two years, during which Mr. Issa repeatedly accused Congressional Democrats of giving the Obama administration a free pass.

And Mr. Issa (pronounced EYE-suh) is already cultivating one of the highest profiles in the new Republican majority.

He is the richest man in the House, having made a fortune by making and selling car alarms, including the Viper, which features his own commanding voice declaring, “Please step away from the car.” And he is now clearly intent on making a name for himself sounding alarms of a different sort about the Obama administration.

On Rush Limbaugh’s radio show before the midterms, he called Mr. Obama “one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times,” only to apologize later and say he did not mean to call Mr. Obama personally corrupt.

He has also threatened to investigate the so-called policy czars, including Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard law professor who was chosen to create the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Mr. Issa has declined interview requests in recent weeks. Aides said he was waiting for his formal appointment as chairman, which is expected this week. But Mr. Issa has made no secret of his plans, which he has described in public remarks before and after the election and in a 17-page blueprint for greater oversight that he issued in September.

He has said he wants his panel’s seven subcommittees each to hold two hearings a week for 40 weeks beginning at the start of the new Congress in January.

In response, Earl E. Devaney, the chairman of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, which oversees government stimulus spending, quipped to fellow inspectors general: “Guess where some of us are going to be hanging out this year?”

But even before he sets after the executive branch, Mr. Issa is fighting a more immediate battle, preventing cuts to his own committee by Republican leaders. “That’s a case I have to make,” Mr. Issa said in a speech to investigators, auditors and prosecutors at a conference on fraud prevention in Philadelphia this month. “I have already made it to Leader Boehner and Eric Cantor,” he said, “that oversight on my committee cannot be cut just to make some symbolic statement that I am going to need the resources.”

Mr. Boehner and Mr. Cantor, who will be the Republican majority leader, have made it clear that that they intend to lead by example, potentially cutting back in the House itself.

The oversight committee now has about 80 staff members for the majority and 40 for the minority. Aides to Mr. Issa said it was not yet clear if those numbers would hold steady.

In recent months, in his role as the senior Republican on the oversight committee, Mr. Issa has courted the inspectors general, raising serious questions, for instance, about the administration’s dismissals of the inspectors general for Amtrak and for the Corporation for National and Community Service.

In the speech in Philadelphia, Mr. Issa urged the inspectors general to work with him.

“It is important that we consider that we are as close to a team as we have ever been starting in January,” he said.

The federal deficit cannot be closed simply by rooting out waste and fraud, and Mr. Issa readily acknowledges that many examples he cites will save what amounts to relative pennies in a $3.5 trillion budget.

But his fierce commitment to do his part is the sort of rallying cry for smaller government that lifted Republicans to victory.

For his committee to succeed, he said, “We are going to need sources of waste that go beyond just corruption, sources of waste that go into the question of why do we have, even within one cabinet position, seven or eight different groups doing the same thing.”

In a brief conversation with reporters just off the House floor the other day, Mr. Issa expressed little interest in pursuing questions about the scientific basis for some Environmental Protection Agency rules, suggesting that there were not sufficient taxpayer savings to be found.

“I’ll have limited resources and limited time,” he said. “I am looking for the largest dollars of waste.”

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