Exclusive first-look video: Issa slams WH over tour cancellations

posted at 8:01 am on March 20, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

It seems that Darrell Issa has had enough of the Washington Monument strategy and buck-passing from the Obama administration on the sequester.  In a new video and statement given to Hot Air exclusively for a first look, the House Oversight chair blasts Barack Obama and Jay Carney for not taking responsibility for Obama’s own decision — and for not using the opportunity to cut $67 billion in waste identified by Obama’s own Inspector General corps:

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform today released “No Leadership, No Responsibility, No Tours,” a new video highlighting the White House’s political gamesmanship, choosing to close the White House to school groups and visitors while responsible spending reforms, like those from non-partisan Inspectors General outlined in Oversight’s March 5 Committee report, have not been implemented.

“It’s telling that the President would rather cancel White House tours during the most popular tourist season than roll up his sleeves and get to work fixing our nation’s spending crisis.” Chairman Darrell Issa said. “Just two weeks ago, my committee released a report chronicling $67 billion in unimplemented reforms recommended by the President’s own non-partisan Inspectors General.”

As outlined in the video, the Administration has offered differing accounts of who decided to cancel tours. On March 13, 2013, President Obama said: “this was not a decision that went up to the White House.” Then later that day, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney contradicted the President admitting, “We had to cancel the tours.”

The sequester in this budget cycle only cuts $45 billion, thanks to the point in the fiscal year in which it falls.  Following the recommendations of Obama’s own Inspectors General would outstrip those cuts and allow for zero impact on governance.  Instead, we’re playing games with Easter egg rolls and tours.

The executive summary explains how much in potential savings the IGs have found over the last four years — and how little has been done about it:

Congress installed inspectors general (IGs) at Executive Branch departments and agencies to identify waste, fraud, and abuse in the federal government. IGs conduct independent audits and investigations and make recommendations to protect the interests of taxpayers and improve the effectiveness of government. Their valuable work is frustrated if agency management ignores or fails to implement their recommendations.

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has jurisdiction over the IG community. This staff report is a compilation of four years’ worth of data provided to the Committee by the IGs. The IGs responded to annual requests from the Committee for the volume and value of their open and unimplemented recommendations beginning in 2009. Based on data provided annually by the IGs, the Committee’s Republican staff found that agency management has not implemented thousands of recommendations that would save taxpayers more than $67 billion.

The backlog for implementing IG recommendations has reached an all-time high, and the volume of recommendations that remain unimplemented continues to increase every year. In 2008, then-Chairman Henry Waxman found that the Bush Administration did not fully implement more than 13,800 IG recommendations made since 2001. Since then-Ranking Member Darrell Issa began surveying the IGs, the total number of open and unimplemented recommendations has increased dramatically, from 10,894 in 2009 to 16,906 in 2012. The potential savings associated with those open and unimplemented recommendations increased even more dramatically, from $26 billion when Chairman Waxman released his findings in 2009 to more than $67 billion in 2012. These figures reflect the most conservative possible accounting of the number and dollar value of the IGs’ open and unimplemented recommendations. It is likely that both totals are significantly higher.

For the final word, let’s play Guess That Politican.  Who said this, and when?

“I am not going to back off the sequestration. That’s the law we passed. We did it because it wouldn’t make things easy for us. It made it so we would have to do something. And if we didn’t, these cuts would kick in.”

Answer? Harry Reid, May 2012.

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