Politics

Issa hits back at Cummings over letters to industry groups

Jonathan Strong Contributor

Top GOP oversight official Rep. Darrell Issa is hitting back at criticisms from top Democrats leveled Tuesday regarding letters Issa sent to a slew of industry trade associations asking which of the Obama administration’s many new regulations are hurting the economy.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, the newly appointed top Democrat on the oversight panel, said Tuesday on MSNBC that the letters – which ask for “assistance in identifying existing and proposed regulations that have negatively impacted job growth” – are tantamount to “inviting businesses to tell us what they want us to do as opposed to protecting the American people.”

The question Issa is asking: Since when is it inappropriate to reach out to business? President Obama, for instance, has made high-profile overtures to business groups in the wake of the “shellacking” he received on Nov. 2.

“Where were all of Cummings’s and the DNC’s outrage and concern when the president had a CEO roundtable a few weeks ago or the potential inclusion of Bill Daley into the administration for the reported purpose of his relationships with private industry?” said Issa spokesman Kurt Bardella.

Cummings’a attacks come before Issa has had the chance to hold a single hearing, opening the door to a GOP argument he’s not interested in oversight.

“All Cummings has done is proven that he is either a partisan obstructionist or just a hypocrite. At least we now know where he stands and what we can expect from him moving forward,” said Bardella.

The partisan skirmish is important because it is setting the tone for the relationship, or lack thereof, the two will have as Issa leads the oversight committee for the next two years.

In recent weeks, Issa has taken several steps to avoid the appearance of partisanship. For instance, after a meeting with Vice President Biden, Issa’s and Biden’s staff released identical statements about what took place at the meeting, eliminating the chance for any sort of partisan gamesmanship about it.

But Democrats, who are privately fearful of Issa’s new power of the subpoena, have been ramping up their attacks. One example is a report released by the Media Matters Action Network claiming to unveil the “REAL Darrell Issa.”

The battle over Issa’s letters to industry is the first rhetorical jousting between Issa and Cummings since Cummings attained his spot as top-ranking Democrat on the oversight committee.

Update: Cummings has responded to Issa’s response, pointing to Democrats’ record on the economy.

“Democratic priorities will be creating jobs, rebuilding the middle class and lowering the debt and deficit. We have put forth solutions to do this, while Republicans have committed to breaking down progress that has been made,” said Cummings in a written statement.

“The first thing Democrats did at the beginning of 2008 was to give tax cuts, create jobs and keep our first responders on the job. The first thing Republicans will do this year is to destroy progress and wedge Big Insurance back between doctors and patients. My colleagues on the other side of the aisle have not shown they are ready to govern, only to campaign. I hope instead of campaigning for the White House for the next two years, they will work with us here and now to create jobs through innovation and rebuilding the middle class, rather than cutting regulations that protect millions of Americans,” Cummings said.