Thursday, February 08, 2007

Gutknecht Promises, Democrats Take Action !

I have been writing commentaries for over a year concerning the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) reports that stated U.S. reconstruction efforts have been plagued by problems & fraud. Each time pleading with my Congressman, Gil Gutknecht, who sat on the Government Reform Committee to hold hearings.

Gutknecht finally issued a response as a Footnote in his eline of 9/29/06 :
NOTE: My Government Reform Committee held its seventh oversight hearing. At the insistence of House conservatives, money was authorized for additional auditors for money spent in Iraq and Afghanistan. Troubling reports are coming out concerning waste and mismanagement. We need to hold people accountable. We intend to hold more hearings in the months to come.
Emphais added.
{ NOTE : Gutknecht takes a little liberty with his comment of the “seventh” as this was the first full committee hearing on Iraq Reconstruction during this Congress ... and it essentially occurred during the last week before another "re-election campaign" recess.}

As a result of the November elections, the Democrats are using the Government Reform Committee for what should be used for … to investigate and provide oversight. This is a far cry from the 109th Do-Nothing Congress that felt using steriods in baseball was the critical national issue. { I still laugh at Gutknecht’s interview with Tom Hauser in Meet the Candidates profile discussing steroids and his boyhood memories of Harmon Killerbrew … obviously, he felt that issue was more important than the wasteful spending related to Iraq and Hurricane Katrina.}

The Committee has been holding hearings for the last three days – exposing major problems for the taxpayers to hear. For example lax management of the nearly $12 billion in cash shipped to Iraq between May 2003 and June 2004 which the committee calculated that the cash, most of it in the stacks of $100 bills, weighed 363 tons and had to been flown in on wooden pallets aboard giant C-130 military cargo planes.

The reaction by the Republicans was to defend their inaction. The panel’s ranking Republican, Representative Tom Davis of Virginia said “ Self-righteous finger-wagging will not make Iraq any more secure.” "We are in a war against terrorists, to have a blame meeting isn't, in my opinion, constructive," commented Rep. Dan Burton, an Indiana Republican.
{Since Davis was the lead proponent of the baseball steroid issue, it’s good to know now that he is concerned about making Iraq secure.}

The Republicans have missed the issue. First, it’s the taxpayer’s monies that are missing.
Second, considering all the graft and fraud that is commonplace in Iraq, I would think that the Congress would be concerned that our monies were used to acquire weapons that have been used to make Iraq insecure.

But it’s not just Iraq spending that concerns fiscal conservatives. Today, hearings were held which the Committee focused on two examples of multi-billion dollar contracts - $24Billion to modernize the Coast Guards aging fleet that thus far is being called a lemon; and the $30Billion Secure Border Initiative to integrate technology and personnel to defend the nation’s borders.
And on Friday, there will be a hearing entitled Allegations of Waste, Fraud, and Abuse in Pharmaceutical Pricing: Financial Impacts on Federal Health Programs and the Federal Taxpayer (read about it here}

Minnesotans will be glad to know that ineffectual Gil Gutknecht has been replaced with Betty McCollum – a Congresswoman who recognizes waste when she sees it … ala her speaking out on the DM&E loan.

No comments: