July 6, 2012 · By Rick Manning · 0 Comments
If only every Republican Committee Chairman were like House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa.
Most known for his dogged pursuit of the truth about the “Fast and Furious” gun running scandal that left two U.S. law enforcement officials dead at the hands of Mexican drug cartel members leading to Attorney General Eric Holder being held in contempt of Congress, Issa has been confronting many of the toughest challenges facing our nation.
The truth is that the California Republican and his staff are the hardest working people in government, regularly releasing the results of investigations, or pushing for major reform legislation to some of our government’s most unwieldy bureaucracies.
Three recent examples show the breadth of Issa’s activities that extend well beyond the Justice Department.
With much of Congress on a district work break, Issa’s Committee released a report the day after Independence Day detailing the sweetheart deals received by Washington, D.C., insiders from Countrywide Mortgage. While not groundbreaking, the Committee reveals how Countrywide CEO Anthony Mozilo used special mortgage deals and discounts for VIPs to gain favored treatment for his company. Perhaps the most shocking revelation was the special deals provided for the heads of mortgage servicing giant Fannie Mae with Mozilo personally overriding company policy to get one former Fannie CEO a below prime home interest rate.
Just a few weeks earlier, the Committee released a scathing examination of the Food & Drug Administration’s complicity in causing drug shortages.
Interestingly, at the same time, my dermatologist Dr. Howland Hartley, was explaining the problems that drug shortages were causing and provided numerous examples including the Lidocaine that was being used to numb my skin prior to a couple of biopsies. Dr. Hartley wondered how he was supposed to do his job without the basic tools, and worried that some critical medicines to treat childhood leukemia were becoming increasingly scarce.
Issa and his Committee’s report, almost on cue, examined the issue finding that a combination of a massive increase of FDA enforcement actions against drug manufacturers and price controls on the manufacture of injectable, generic medicines are directly responsible for much of the shortage problems.
The report notes that since December, 2009, each of the manufacturers who have shut down generic injectable drug production lines in the past year received harshly threatening FDA warning letters for their facilities that manufacture the medications.
The FDA letters state, “You should take prompt action to correct the violations cited in this letter. Failure to promptly correct these violations may result in legal action without further notice including, without limitation, seizure and injunction.”
Citing expert testimony, Issa’s report puts the FDA’s regulatory actions as being, “involved in 42 percent of the drug shortages.”
Another major factor in creating the shortage that has doctors like Dr. Hartley worried is that the Pelosi-Reid Congress passed the Medicare Modernization Act in 2010, which sets the price that Medicare pays for certain injectable generic medications below the cost to produce the drugs. In fact, manufacturers are currently producing many oncology drugs at a loss.
As Issa’s Committee points out, when a manufacturer is compelled to sell a product at a loss, they have an incentive to switch production to a product that earns a profit, ultimately creating a government induced shortage that ends up hurting patients.
On top of trying to reign in the FDA, the Justice Department and the blatant attempts by Countrywide to provide personal benefits to key legislators to influence policy, Issa is also at the tip of the spear in working to keep the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) from crumbling.
Currently, the USPS is bleeding money running a multi-billion dollar annual deficit.
Issa’s, H.R. 2309, is the only plan before Congress that actually saves the USPS rather than just shifting the problem of an intractable postal bureaucracy and a mandated 500,000+ workforce in an era of declining mail usage.
The Wall Street Journal praised Issa’s solution saying it, “gives the Postal Service a fighting chance to survive for five to ten year without being a $12 billion annual drain on the Treasury.”
It is expected that Issa’s USPS saving legislation will be considered this summer with an attempt to reconcile it with the flawed Senate fix in the months ahead.
At a time when many congressional leaders seem paralyzed into inactivity, Representative Darrell Issa stands tall as a man who is unafraid to tackle the diverse and difficult issues facing our nation. A formidable man, who made his fortune by founding and building a car alarm business in his youth, Issa is a model for what a congressman should be – tough, fair and unafraid to stand up for what is right.
Don’t you wish the same could be said for all of our elected officials?
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"We don't intend to turn the Republican Party over to the traitors in the battle just ended. We will have no more of those candidates who are pledged to the same goals as our opposition and who seek our support. Turning the party over to the so-called moderates wouldn't make any sense at all." - Ronald Reagan, Nov. 10, 1964