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Darrell Issa Ready To Become President Obama's Worst Nightmare

Kevin Douglas Grant |
November 9, 2010 | 9:06 a.m. PST

Executive Editor

There's a new sheriff in town on Capitol Hill, it seems.

His name is Rep. Darrell Issa, a SoCal Republican and the incoming chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Issa has already called Obama “one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times” (which he later retracted) and announced that he will hold hundreds of hearings scrutinizing government bailout measures, stimulus packages, and health care reform.

Though Issa has promised to be an equal-opportunity pain in the neck, it is Obama who now holds power, not Bush (who pushed a $700 billion bailout before leaving office).  Worse, the Obama Administration finds itself on the wrong side of the aisle from Issa and the soon-to-be Republican House.  

NPR suggested that Obama officials will spend much of the next two years "in Capitol Hill hearing rooms at witness tables looking up at him and his colleagues and trying to keep their composure as they respond to what are sure to be barbed questions, mostly from Republican lawmakers."

And who is this Grand Inquisitor?  He's the richest member of Congress, for one thing.  He made his fortune selling the "Viper" car alarm.  Ironically, in his younger years he was repeatedly indicted on car theft charges (later dropped).

He's promised: "Wall Street will have to accept a new level of scrutiny and demands for transparency for how they make decisions and the impact those decisions have on the economy. Main Street will hopefully benefit from this new degree of openness and accountability and I will continue to fight for their right to know." 

The Democrats are scared of Issa's power as chairman, which will give him the right to subpoena and a House budget second only to presumed Speaker John Boehner.  

The Hill relays a quote from a Dem staffer: "'Darrell Issa has been clear all along: If Republicans get their way, Chairman Issa would ignore the gross misconduct from Republicans’ powerful corporate special interest backers like British Petroleum, and would use subpoenas and an 80-person staff to launch taxpayer-funded witch-hunts against the president,' said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Ryan Rudominer."

Outgoing gavel-holder Rep. Ed Towns, a New York Democrat, had his own critics when he succeeded Calif. Democrat Henry Waxman in late 2008.  

The Village Voice reported that in addition to being videotaped accepting an illegal cash payment in 1982, "Towns has been criticized by top Democrats for numerous absences at committee hearings, including all but one of the six October recess hearings that Waxman held to probe the Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers and AIG collapses." 

Whether politicians who dabble in car thievery and bribetaking should lead ethical investigations for the House of Representatives is another matter.

But it looks like at the very least, Issa's ascendance will be a serious inconvenience to Obama and his allies. 



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