Among the least-heralded public servants in the nation's capital are the 73 inspectors general established by Congress to root out waste, fraud and inefficiency in the executive branch. With teams of thousands of auditors and inspectors, the IGs issue hundreds of investigative and audit reports that send a steady parade of crooks to jail while saving taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars every year. Unfortunately, it's doubtful that one out of 100 Americans could name a single IG.
That anonymity is a key to their success, however, because it helps keep the focus on the job at hand and away from political considerations that can derail the pursuit of justice. So it's particularly disappointing to see House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi blatantly playing politics with the imminently reasonable proposal of Rep. Peter Roskam to create an IG for Obamacare. The Illinois Republican announced his proposal Thursday, and no sooner had he done so that Pelosi made clear her opposition to it.
|Now that a Democrat works in the Oval Office and is responsible for the biggest federal entitlement program ever created, Pelosi thinks an IG is unnecessary.|
Asked about the Roskam proposal at her daily news conference, Pelosi said: “No. Each of the committees of jurisdiction has oversight, so the congressional oversight is something that I support. Each of the agencies of government that are implementing the law, the Affordable Care Act, have their own inspectors general. I think that the system has enough appropriate oversight. I don't see any reason to go to that point.”
Of course, there are oversight committees of Congress for all 73 of the departments and agencies that presently have IGs, but none of those federal entities control one-sixth of the U.S. economy or trillions of dollars in federal spending. So why would Pelosi be opposed to an Obamacare IG?
Roskam found the likely answer in Pelosi's position on previous proposals to create IGs. He noted that Pelosi enthusiastically supported creation of IGs for the U.S. war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well for the Toxic Asset Recovery Program, the federal relief effort to victims of Hurricane Katrina and the intelligence community. Perhaps its merely coincidental, but every one of those IG proposals came when a Republican president was in the White House. Now that a Democrat works in the Oval Office and is responsible for the biggest federal entitlement program ever created, Pelosi thinks an IG is unnecessary.
Pelosi was speaker of the House when Congress approved the $700 billion Wall Street bailout in 2008 with a Special Inspector General for TARP. As Roskam pointed out last week, the SIGTARP has since “identified $5.3 billion in restitution and savings, including $533 million in direct taxpayer savings. In comparison, the healthcare law is estimated to cost $1.8 trillion when fully implemented, dwarfing TARP's cost to taxpayers.”
It was also Pelosi who famously said of Obamacare that “we have to pass it so you can see what’s in it.” Remember, too, that Obamacare was written behind the closed doors of Pelosi’s office. Could it be there’s something in Obamacare that she fears an Obamacare IG will expose?