Darrell Issa: Wall Street Has to Accept New Scrutiny

The GOP leadership have been out in force in the media to communicate their message for change.


From kick starting jobs to slashing the deficit, Americans are getting an earful of what the Republicans hope to achieve in the next two years. One of the strongest voices on the bailouts, cutting spending as well as oversight is Representative Darrell Issa, incoming Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman. Issa's not shy about his mission in overhauling oversight.

I decided to kick off the decision on what will be his first item on his agenda when he becomes Chairman.

DI: Obviously, as Chairman, my number one priority will be to try and live up to the mandate that the American people have given us. They want a smaller, more limited government that is more transparent and more accountable.

The American people have a right to know what is being done with their tax-dollars and the reasoning behind decisions that are made in Washington. We need serious reforms within the federal bureaucracy and I will target areas of waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement to ensure that we are better stewards of taxpayer dollars. There is a lot of planning and organizing going on so anything more specific than that will have to wait until next year.

LL: What is the message you want to send out to both Wall Street and Main Street when you take the gavel?

DI: 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.

LL: Do you think this Congress will pass the Bush Tax Cuts?

DI: Depends on how the lame-duck session goes.

LL: Your committee will be influential in terms of limiting health care reform funding (in regards to the subsidies in 2014). What will you do to try and repeal or slow this down?

Rep. Darrell Issa
Source: U.S. Congress
Rep. Darrell Issa

DI: The focus of our committee is how the bureaucracy works or in many cases, doesn’t work. There is a lot we can do to achieve the goal of reducing the cost of health care—beginning with looking at the massive amounts of fraud that occurs in existing programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

LL: Let's talk Countrywide. What are you going to do to make sure this does not happen again?

DI: The only way to ensure we do not repeat the sequence of events that resulted in our financial meltdown is to fully expose the true nature of what went wrong and why. This must begin with an honest and complete examination of the role that Countrywide’s VIP program played in passing bad loans on Americans with the cooperation of government entities like Fannie and Fredddie.

LL: Do you think the "Friends of Angelo" have gotten a free pass here? What should be done to send a message to members of Congress that sweetheart deals are not tolerated?

DI: Yes, it’s shameful and bad public policy for Congress to pass policy without knowing all the facts. The best way to prevent this is to expose it and that’ exactly what we will be doing.

LL: You have made it clear you intend to examine both the Bush and Obama Administration's handling of the mortgage crisis. What do you hope to conclude after your investigations?

DI: I hope we expose the true nature of what happened, why it happened and provide a road map for ensuring it never happens again.

LL: You have used the word that you'll "aggressively" investigate all sorts of Obama transgressions. What investigations are you planning?

DI: Understand, this isn’t about investigating the President individually, but rather about oversight into areas of the bureaucracy that are failing. Good examples are MMS and the FDA. It would be premature to give an itemized list of what type of oversight we’ll conduct next year as we don’t even know what our Committee will look like yet.

LL: You are also a critic of the Fed — and that criticism is really rising. Do you plan to investigate the Fed ?

DI: I will always fight for more transparency and defend the American people’s right to know. I would hope that the Fed will be willing partners in my efforts to bring more transparency and accountability into government.

LL: How do you get the bureaucracy out of the system?

DI: Bureaucracy is inherent in government and with the government playing a much larger role in people’s lives today than at any other time in our history, the best way to address this is to reduce the size and scope of government rather than enhance it. The midterm elections told us that the American people want less government not more.

LL: Do you think the new Congress will have the political will to get things done?

DI: If they don’t, they’ll get thrown out in two years.”

LL: The GOP will be judged over the next two years on if they can successfully complete their agenda. Their success over the next two years will play a huge part in the 2012 Presidential election.

Are you confident the GOP will be able to get the agenda done in order to successfully take back the White House?

DI: Our goal is not and should not be about winning a political campaign, but rather to get America and our economy moving again.

To advance policies that will create jobs and provide relief to the millions of American who are facing excruciatingly difficult decisions and challenges.

Our success is contingent on our ability to live-up to the mandate given by the American people. Ultimately, only they can decide whether or not we have been successful or not.


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A Senior Talent Producer at CNBC, and author of "Thriving in the New Economy:Lessons from Today's Top Business Minds."