I might have made some flippant remarks about Darrell Issa, the ranking member of California’s House delegation, if it weren’t for my genuine concern about his revealed capacity to bring chaos, confusion, and a general sense of the arcane to Washington. As the “Head of Oversight,’” it shouldn’t be surprising that he agonizes so over his inability to find “the $700 billion dollars.”
Just prior to the mid-term elections last week, Congressman Issa, at that time the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, a guest on the Rush Limbaugh radio program, told Mr. Limbaugh that he considered Democratic President Barack Obama to be “One of the most corrupt Presidents in modern times.” Even young schoolchildren, home for the day, would likely see such commentary as irresponsible at the least. Issa was expressing concern about the President’s $700 billion in stimulus spending; “That $700 billion is gone; we have to figure out, one: where it went, and two: how to keep it from going away that way again. The American people cannot afford that!”
Since making those remarks to Limbaugh, owing to the post-election change in majority in the House of Representatives, Californian Issa has become the incoming chairman of The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee; this is a new and different situation. Issa, speaking on ABC Television’s Good Morning America, on Monday, November 8, repeated more than once that he was “caught up in the heat of the campaign!”… “I tried never to make it a personal statement about the president…I am not saying that the President is personally corrupt. But his administration has to change direction particularly after taxpayer money.” Issa is still at a loss to find the $700 billion
In late July of 2010, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved The 2010 Earmark Transparency Act. The act proposed by the President, and lobbied for by the President during his State of the Union address, calls for a publication of “all earmark requests on a single website, before there’s a vote, so that the American people can see how their money is being spent”, this in Obama’s words. On Wednesday, July 28, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved the 2010 Earmark Transparency Act by a vote of 11-5. The legislation then did create an online database that taxpayers could use to sort, search and download earmark requests and approved projects.
Representative Issa was vehement about the President. I had the strong feeling at the time that the Congressman was particularly concerned with the President’s personal — “solo” — is the term, earmarks. I did some spontaneous research. The legislated online database is indeed up and running. There is an entire section allowing searchers to view the President’s solo earmarks; another for earmark selections made jointly by the President and other politicians. A quick look at the available material at that site indicates that the President’s only “solo earmark” was for Military/Defense Construction in Camp Williams, Utah. It reveals the request from the House of Representatives was for $500 million; the Senate request was for $600 million. The $600 million was the approved Presidential earmark money in 2010. That begins and ends the search for transparency within Presidential earmarking in the 2010 Stimulus Package; it covers all Presidential earmark spending in 2010.
Issa is searching for the listing of the spending of the voted on and approved stimulus money. The list is available, long, and to the average Joe, a little boring. The most readable accounting as I see it is the citation at Propublica. It provides the information, complete with graphs and graphics. If Representative Issa is still concerned about the money, he may contact me at BlogCritics.
My curiosity got the best of me; I took the opportunity to check some of George Walker Bush’s executive privilege spending. He worked with his wife on the project. Laura Bush’s 21st Century Librarian Program received $24 million in grants to train new librarians; First lady Bush happens to be a former librarian. Other inclusions in Bush earmark spending include $10 million to preserve historic sites within communities. There is an allotment of $50 million to America’s Youth Initiative. The historic sites and the youth initiatives were in both cases causes championed by then First Lady Laura Bush. Don’t get me wrong — nothing wrong with that!