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Watchdog for the Taxpayers


Via Crooks and Liars, we see Henry Waxman appears on This Week and K Street quakes in its boots. I like this messaging a lot:

WAXMAN:  It seems to me our top priority as the chief investigative and oversight committee is to make sure that taxpayers' funds are no being wasted, that there's no fraud and abuse.  These are the taxpayers' dollars, and what we've seen so far in Iraq, according to the government's own auditors, is billions of dollars that have gone to waste and corruption and graft.  We're going to look into that more carefully.  Only a small part of the money spent in Iraq has been audited, but what we've seen is very, very frightening.


And that's not only a problem in Iraq.  When we look at the spending on homeland security, when we look at the spending on Hurricane Katrina, we see the same pattern of hiring big contractors, having them overcharge for the work they do.  We've got to be the watchdog for the taxpayers. 


STEPHANOPOULOS:  Is Iraq your top priority? 


WAXMAN:  Always, fraud and abuse of government spending is our top priority, and starting February 6th we're going to have a week of hearings on waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayers' dollars.  And Iraq will clearly be one of the major focuses of that hearing. 


STEPHANOPOULOS:  You know, just before the election, I spoke to Vice President Cheney and asked him how he would respond to a request to come testify to the Congress.  Here's what he said. 




RICHARD B. CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I have no idea that I'm going to be subpoenaed, and obviously we'd sit down and look at it then, but probably not in the sense that the president and the vice president are constitutional officers and don't appear before the Congress. 




STEPHANOPOULOS:  Do you anticipate asking Vice President Cheney to testify? 


WAXMAN:  Well, I have no plans at the present time to ask him to testify, nor do I have any plans to issue any subpoenas.  It was disgraceful the way the Republicans handled their investigation of Clinton.  The chairman issued 1,000 subpoenas, even doctored the testimony in the Congressional Record in order to get their political point of view across.

The Republicans have made all kinds of hay for decades with Club for Growth "lower taxes" messaging, which was most certainly dog-whistle rhetoric for "don't give your tax money to the negros" to many.  Nonetheless, many also supported these efforts because they really didn't want to see the government wasting money.   The abject hypocrisy of the right wing "porkbusters" set can be evidenced by the thundering silence to be heard in the wake of the obscene amounts that have been wasted in Iraq, New Orleans and everything else that BushCo. takes its hand to.  The whole "tax and spend Democrats" meme is not holding up well as we witness the GOP running the government like a bunch of drunken sailors on shore leave; Henry Waxman could deal it a death blow here. (And some big appreciation to Henry for repeatedly mentioning the Clinton witch hunt, and what a sham that was.  All these years later, that still grinds me.)


I don't think we should count on any help from Waxman's Senate counterpart Joe Lieberman, however.  He's too busy warmongering to worry about all the fuckups that have been committed in the name of his eponymous war. 


Oversight, schmoversight. 

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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