Issa Twists Himself In Knots Over 'Most Corrupt' Statement And Other GOP Talking Points

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(h/t Heather at VideoCafe)

Before the 2010 Mid-term election, Rep. Darrell Issa postured himself as the swaggering he-man Republican bound to take down President Obama, whom he called "the most corrupt president in modern times" on the Rush Limbaugh show in October:

RUSH: Do you expect the president to come to you and say, "Okay, you know, you guys won and I lost and I guess the American people are rejecting me. I guess I'm going to have to work with you." Do you expect him to do that?

ISSA: No. I expect him to take a little while to figure out that the Presidential Records Act means they can no longer use Google to do politicking inside the White House in violation of the law. They can no longer ignore the Hatch Act violations they've been doing. They can no longer do Sestak, Romanoff type deals with federal taxpayers' dollars. I expect those changes to happen. And, you know, there will be a certain degree of gridlock as the president adjusts to the fact that he has been one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times. He has ignored the very laws that he said were so vital when he was a senator. And, you know, he's going to have to come back a different direction. Now, at the end of the day John Boehner is going to have to figure out how we have a budget and appropriations. In my case, I head the committee that's all about making sure that the administration obeys the law, that waste, fraud, and abuse not be tolerated, which obviously is not the case now, but that's the change that's going to happen from my position. I'm looking forward to it.

Oooh...big man making scary threats. Interestingly, Issa is not talking so tough now. He's contorted himself into multiple pretzels trying to walk that back.

ISSA: I corrected -- what I meant to say -- you know, on live radio, with Rush going back and forth -- and by the way that was because Rush had me on to answer the question of -- about coming together, having compromise. He didn't like the compromise word, when I said we're going to agree to disagree and then we're going to find a kind of common ground, the kind of compromise that makes -- and gets things done.

In saying that this is one of the most corrupt administrations, which is what I meant to say there, when you hand out $1 trillion in TARP just before this president came in, most of it unspent, $1 trillion nearly in stimulus that this president asked for, plus this huge expansion in health care and government, it has a corrupting effect.

When I look at waste, fraud and abuse in the bureaucracy and in the government, this is like steroids to pump up the muscles of waste.

HENRY: But first of all, on TARP, that was before the Obama administration. That was pushed through by the Bush administration, not -- so how could you call the Obama administration one of the most corrupt ever if the Bush administration pushed TARP through?

ISSA: I was -- I wasn't talking about TARP legislation. What I said...

HENRY: But you said now that that's what you meant.

Ooops. It's amazing how ridiculous these GOP talking points are rendered when the media does their job even a little bit. And of course, used to a compliant and unquestioning media platform, Issa doesn't know what to do to save himself.

And it just gets worse for Issa. Henry asks him about his calling the non-story of the Sestak appointment offer an "impeachable offense". Watch Issa dance around that.

HENRY: OK, but specifically you also went -- went after President Obama in the Joe Sestak case in Pennsylvania and called it "Obama's Watergate," and you said it was an impeachable offense. So I know you're -- you seem to be backpedaling now and saying you're not going after him.

ISSA: Ed, just so you understand...

HENRY: But why did you call...

(CROSSTALK)

ISSA: Just so you understand, you're misquoting. And it's very important that we get it right here.

HENRY: No, we found the quotes, and you...

ISSA: What you'll find is...

(CROSSTALK)

HENRY: In an e-mail, you said...

ISSA: I quoted Dick Morris...

HENRY: Right, that's who said...

(CROSSTALK)

ISSA: ... who had said it was an impeachable event. OK...

HENRY: And an e-mail you put out said it was Obama's Watergate.

ISSA: OK, so let's not -- let's not compare the two.

HENRY: Well, but Watergate was impeachable offenses.

(CROSSTALK)

ISSA: Ed -- Ed, I came on your show, but don't create a statement which has to be answered...

Yeah, Ed. Don't hold me accountable to my words, man. So I sent out a fundraising email on it. So I went on various conservative radio shows and said it. Don't make me answer to it now.

HENRY: So do you still believe it was Obama's Watergate, the Joe Sestak case?

ISSA: Once we knew, as we discovered, that it turns out that Republicans and previous administrations thought it was OK in spite of the absolute black and white letter of the law, it got bigger -- it got bigger than President Obama.

HENRY: So are you going to investigate the Joe Sestak case?

ISSA: No we're not. Here's the whole point.

HENRY: But if it was Obama's Watergate, now you're going to walk away?

ISSA: Ed, what we know now is we know that there is a problem in government that executive branch people think it's OK to do this. It's not OK.

Do we need to get this administration to stop doing it? Do we need, if anything, to find out who it was in the Bush administration that thought it was OK to use your taxpayer dollars to affect a Republican primary? That's -- it was wrong if it was done in the Bush administration. It's wrong in the Obama administration. But remember, the focus of our committee has always been, and you look at all the work I've done over the last four years on the oversight committee; it has been consistently about looking for waste, fraud and abuse. That's the vast majority of what we do.

See, Ed...as soon as we found out that we'd have to hold Republicans to the same standards, we backed off. But we're focused on fraud and abuse...just not when it involves Republicans too.

Let's talk about more of that fraud and corrupt Obama administration:

HENRY: Well, let's -- Congressman Boehner, who is going to be the speaker, has said he wants to cut $100 billion from the federal budget and he wants to start with committees.

How are you going to fund all these various investigations when Democrats point out that you had the Securities and Exchange Commission investigate the timing of the -- of its suit against Goldman Sachs some time ago because there was a suggestion that you had that maybe the Democrats were timing that suit so that it would help them pass financial reform legislation?

Basically the SEC inspector general went through 3.4 million e- mails from 64 employees. They took all kinds of sworn statements. They spent weeks and weeks on this. And at the end there was nothing there.

How much did an investigation like that cost and are you going to be transparent about how much taxpayer money you're spending on all of this?

ISSA: Ed, I'm glad you asked this because what we did was we noted the timing. We sent to the SEC -- and the inspector general there said yes, this looks like the kind of thing that we follow up and investigate.

He conducted an investigation, with no interference and no guidance from us. He did what he thought was right and he reported out his findings. When his findings came out and said, yes, it's a coincidence; it's not any corrupt behavior, we never said or did another thing. That's government doing what it's supposed to do.

HENRY: But they went through 3.4 million e-mails and found nothing. It cost a lot of money, didn't it?

So there was no there there? Then what's the fuss? How much did that cost for all these pearl-clutching austerity queens? But then comes the phrase from Ed Henry that makes Republicans' heads explode: fact check.

HENRY: OK, I want to fact-check something you said in this morning's Los Angeles Times. You said, and we told this...

ISSA: I must have gotten up really early.

(LAUGHTER)

HENRY: Well, you said, "After a trillion-dollar stimulus that didn't create jobs, a trillion-dollar bailout of Wall Street and a trillion-dollar health care overhaul, the American people believed we need more oversight, not less."

On that first part, a trillion-dollar stimulus that did not create jobs, you say. Bloomberg has a story out also saying "Employment probably rose for a third month in December, bringing U.S. payroll growth last year to $1 million and pointing to further improvement in the labor market for 2011, economists said before a report this week."

How can you make the case that no jobs have been created?

Maybe the White House didn't create as many as they advertised, no doubt about it, but how can you make the case that they've created no jobs with the stimulus? And you're about to investigate this.

ISSA: First of all, unemployment rose. By hearings held under a Democratic chairman, we were told under sworn testimony, with Chairman Towns sitting next to me, that it cost, just to keep a teacher on the salary one more year, $174,000 each.

Now, you can say those are jobs created or saved. Really, they're simply dollars spent for one year of kicking the can down the road. It didn't create -- there's not a lot of ripple effect in that kind of spending.

Real creation of jobs, permanent jobs is what we didn't get out of this. Of course, you get your money spent. If I hire you and give you a quarter million dollars or $174,000, you have a job for that year. That's not creating a job. That's hiring or continuing to pay for a government worker.

Creating a job is about something you do that becomes permanent. Stimulus should have been about private-sector creation.

It should have been about private sector creation. You Republicans told us that giving the "job creators" tax cuts would result in more jobs. In ten years of the Bush tax rates, we had NEGATIVE job creation in the private sector. So how'd that work out for us? But you're going to spend the money you keep insisting we can't afford to investigate things that don't require investigation.

Tell me again why anyone supports the Republican party line?

Transcripts courtesy of CNN.

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