In yet another attempt to deflect blame for his administration’s disastrous lack of response to the runaway oil spill catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, President Barack Obama is now pointing fingers at Congress.
“I think it’s fair to say, if six months ago, before this spill had happened, I had gone up to Congress and I had said we need to crack down a lot harder on oil companies and we need to spend more money on technology to respond in case of a catastrophic spill, there are folks up there, who will not be named, who would have said this is classic, big-government overregulation and wasteful spending,” Obama said in an interview with Politico.
House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Ranking Republican Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) called the president’s latest deflection attempt a fantasy.
“It’s ironic and downright disingenuous for the president to try and deflect attention away from his policy of inaction by conjuring up this fantasy scenario where he blames Congress for stopping something he never even attempted to do,” Issa said. “This president didn’t hesitate to push through Congress a trillion-dollar stimulus bill, a trillion-dollar health care bill and somehow he has conjured up this fictitious scenario where Congress, after receiving ten Inspector General reports, ten GAO reports, and the findings of a congressional investigation, wouldn’t agree to reform MMS [Minerals Management Service]?”
Today, Issa is surveying areas in and around New Orleans that have been affected by the spill to assess contributions to the disaster by what he called a dysfunctional and corrupt MMS.
“If President Obama had exercised some long overdue leadership and called on Congress to address the cozy relationship between MMS and the industry they regulate, I would have been the very first to partner with him and give MMS the overhaul it desperately needs,” Issa added.
Last October, Issa introduced H.R. 3736 which would strip the Department of the Interior of its management responsibilities for MMS and make the troubled collector of oil, mineral, and natural gas revenues an independent agency.
Oversight and Government Reform Committee Republican staff made the case for that separation in a report last year concluding MMS would benefit from a "divorce from the Department of the Interior and the creation of dedicated funding, a new management structure, and leadership focused on MMS’ unique role in collecting royalties owed to the American people."
Despite these efforts from Republicans, President Obama told Politico: “Some of the same folks who have been hollering and saying ‘do something’ are the same folks who, just two or three months ago, were suggesting that government needs to stop doing so much. Some of the same people who are saying the president needs to show leadership and solve this problem are some of the same folks who, just a few months ago, were saying this guy is trying to engineer a takeover of our society through the federal government that is going to restrict our freedoms.”
“The President likes to talk about accountability, but in the same breath, looks for anyone else to blame but himself,” Issa noted. “I don’t know where President Obama gets his information, but the problems at MMS have been exhaustively documented and have spanned the better part of the three administrations. Nothing was precluding him from taking action the minute he was sworn in, but it wasn’t until a catastrophe hit that this became a top priority.”
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