The Other McCain

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Democrats, Republicans Battle in Oversight Committee Hearing

Posted on | February 17, 2011 | 7 Comments

The hearing was about a new report from the GAO exposing waste in government:

[Committe Chairman Rep. Darrell] Issa’s panel was discussing the GAO’s biennial report, released this week, on areas with high risk for waste. In its study, Congress’ investigative agency placed the Interior Department’s oversight of oil-and-gas resources on to the list . . .
The study found that Interior’s management of oil-and-gas issues faced challenges in collecting revenue, hiring and training sufficient staff, and in its efforts to reorganize. The department announced last year that it was breaking down what was once known as the Minerals Management Service.

Democrats will fight against any cut to any government program anywhere — except the Pentagon:

[A] House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Thursday to examine ways to trim the budget deficit devolved into a public-vs.-private battle, with Republicans looking to cut bloated federal programs and Democrats blaming not-always-accountable federal contractors.
In a nearly four-hour hearing, committee Republicans and fiscally conservative witnesses listed a host of government programs and offices that should be cut, eliminated, privatized, or more highly scrutinized.
Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., cited the pay and benefits of federal employees while others cited waste in the Recovery Act or billions lost in improper payments through Medicare and Medicaid.
“The president’s [fiscal 2012] budget adds approximately 15,000 employees to the federal payroll at a time when private sector unemployment has remained above 9 percent for the longest duration since the Great Depression,” Issa said.
But Democrats, led by ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., repeatedly directed the conversation back to federal contractors. Cummings cited the Government Accountability Office’s 2011 High-Risk List, released on Wednesday, which included six programs directly related to federal contracting.
“When you examine all of these together, they have a massive impact, accounting for hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars every year,” Cummings said. . . .
Thomas Schatz, president of the advocacy group Citizens Against Government Waste, called on Congress to defund the Export-Import Bank, which is charged with aiding foreign exchange; the Essential Air Service, which provides subsidies to continue airline service in less populated regions; and the Agriculture Department’s Market Access Program, which helps farmers and growers promote U.S. products overseas.
Schatz also recommended repealing the Davis-Bacon Act, which requires contractors to pay the prevailing wage on federal construction projects costing more than $2,000. “The mandate raises the cost of government projects by 15 percent and costs taxpayers more than $1 billion annually, not including $100 million in administrative costs,” he said.
Others offered even bolder proposals. Veronique de Rugy, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, argued the private sector rather than the government is best-suited to run Amtrak, the U.S. Postal Service and the air traffic control system.


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