Economic Forecast Worsens as Backlog of Initiatives to Help Jump Start the Economy Grows in OGR
As demand mounts for Congress to take action to help create jobs, Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings calls on Chairman Issa to address the backlog of initiatives he proposed that would help move the economy forward.
In more than 200 days of session, the Oversight Committee has not considered or debated a comprehensive proposal that would have widespread impact on the economy.
Cummings wrote in an op-ed titled “Enough is Enough” that Congress’ top priority has to be job creation and that the Oversight Committee is the ideal forum to begin this task given its broad jurisdiction over government and industry. He wrote that “however, our Committee majority has thus far refused to step up to the challenge. … It's going to take real bipartisanship to get our nation's fiscal house in order and to put people back to work again.”
Chairman Issa promised in a business meeting assessing the Committee’s work that “we can do better in the next six months than we did in the first six.”
Here is a backlog of Cummings’s requests dating back to December that the Committee has failed to take action on.
Getting Americans Back to Work
- Request: On February 10, 2011, Cummings asked Chairman Issa for a hearing on a bipartisan proposal to expand infrastructure investments that was endorsed by both the Chamber of Commerce and organized labor.
- Action: Issa declined to hold the hearing or consider the proposal. Instead, he sent more than 150 letters asking industry which regulations they wanted repealed and held more than a dozen hearings to entertain their requests.
Addressing the Foreclosure Crisis
- Request: On December 21, 2010, Cummings sent his first letter as Ranking Member to Issa requesting that he make investigating foreclosure abuses one of the Committee’s top priorities in the 112th Congress. Since then, thousands of Americans have lost their homes while the Committee has taken little action to hold the banks accountable.
- Action: Issa agreed to make foreclosure one of the Committee’s priorities.
- Request: On February 25, 2011 , Cummings asked Issa to join him in launching an aggressive investigation of the nation’s top ten mortgage servicing companies in light of evidence of mortgage abuses, including wrongful foreclosures against servicemembers, robo-signing, and inflated fees.
- Action: Issa declined to join Cummings, so Cummings sent letters to the ten banks and federal regulators seeking documents to get to the bottom of the crisis.
- Request: On May 24, 2011, Cummings asked Issa to issue subpoenas to six mortgage servicers that refused to provide documents about foreclosure abuses.
- Action: Issa refused to move forward with a subpoena, even after the banks admitted to improperly foreclosing on American homeowners and insisted that they would not provide responsive documents unless compelled by a subpoena.
- Request: On June 21, 2011, Cummings again requested that the Committee subpoena the banks and narrowed the request to focus only on wrongful foreclosures on military service members and their families. This marked Cummings’s fourth request in six months urging the Committee to take action on wrongful foreclosures and other egregious abuses by banks.
- Action: Issa refused to hold those banks accountable for mortgage abuses. In the face of an additional 212,764 foreclosures that occurred in July alone, Issa merely asked the banks a series of questions related to military foreclosures.
**Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc., said that “Housing is ground zero for the economy’s problems, high unemployment and lost jobs,”
Putting Americans’ Interests over Corporate Profits
- Request: On March 3, 2011, Cummings called on Issa to support legislation to end royalty-free oil leases after a report found that royalty relief on leases issued in the Gulf of Mexico from 1996 to 2000 could result in $21 billion to $53 billion in lost revenue to the federal government. At a time when oil companies are making record profits, Cummings asked Issa to help ensure taxpayers receive a fair return on oil profits.
- Action: Issa acknowledged that there was bipartisan support to fix royalty-free oil leases, but he never followed up on the issue.
- Request: On May 23, 2011, in the midst of soaring gas prices, Committee Democrats issued a report that found that oil speculation could be inflating gas prices by up to 30%. Based on the finding, Cummings recommended that the Committee’s primary focus should be on countering the growing impact of excessive speculation, rather than pursuing the oil industry’s priorities of increasing domestic drilling or repealing safety measures put in place after the devastating BP oil spill.
- Action: Issa has yet to investigate or convene a hearing on the impact of oil speculation.
- Request: On August 30, 2011 , Cummings requested that Issa hold a Committee hearing on the issue of CEO compensation after a report revealed that 25 of the top 100 CEOs received more in compensation last year than their company paid in 2010 federal income taxes.
- Action: Issa has not responded to the request to date.