Henry Waxman: The Watch Dog Of The Taxpayers

Henry Waxman plans on holding a series of hearings on Iraq in Feb.. I think a few people in DC might be quivering at the thought. He's a very tou

henrywaxman-tw.jpg Henry Waxman plans on holding a series of hearings on Iraq in Feb.. I think a few people in DC might be quivering at the thought. He's a very tough customer who will use his subpoena power wisely and only when he has to. Ladieeees and Gentlemen----we have a new sheriff in town.

icon Download icon Download

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.

Be Afraid. Be very afraid.

Full transcript via ABC below the fold:

STEPHANOPOULOS: He's also going to hear it from Congress in

terms of investigations. That is other leverage, Congressman Waxman,

that you all have. What is your top priority in investigating Iraq?

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.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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.

Oversight should be done in a fair, responsible manner, hopefully

on a bipartisan basis. It's our constitutional responsibility for

checks and balances. And I don't think you issue a subpoena first.

You negotiate and you try to get the information you need, not issue

subpoenas.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But there's certainly been a lot of signals from

the White House that they're going to resist calls for information,

and in fact one strategist told Time magazine -- and I want to show

this right here -- he said: "The Bush team is going to assert that

power, and they're going to fight it all the way to the Supreme Court

on every issue, every time, no compromise, no discussion, no

negotiation."

WAXMAN: We have our job to do, and they have their job to do,

and that's to work together to represent the interests of the American

people, and especially the taxpayers. If we ask a question that

involves national security, they'll resist, and we'll have to discuss


↓ Story continues below ↓

it. They may be right in resisting giving some information.

But how the money is spent is not classified. It's not national

security. It's the kind of information that Congress for over 200

years has routinely requested of an administration. And whether

they're the same party or not, there's been cooperation in giving and

getting that information, and I expect that to be the case.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you're not taking the subpoena off the

table?

WAXMAN: No, we have the power of subpoena. But I don't think

the subpoena is what you use in the first instance. You make

requests. You send letters. You ask for information, and you

negotiate differences if there are differences, if they have reasons

not to want to give you all that you ask for.

About John Amato

Comments

We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.