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Local Congressman Darrell Issa Rising To National Prominence


Vista's Darrell Issa continues to elevate his role as one of the most powerful members of the House of Representatives. The Republican, incoming chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, pledges to increase scrutiny of the Obama Administration in an effort to cut government spending. How might Rep. Issa's rise to national prominence impact San Diego?

Vista's Darrell Issa continues to elevate his role as one of the most powerful members of the House of Representatives. The Republican, incoming chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, pledges to increase scrutiny of the Obama Administration in an effort to cut government spending. How might Rep. Issa's rise to national prominence impact San Diego?


John Warren, editor and publisher of San Diego Voice & Viewpoint

David Rolland, editor of San Diego CityBeat

David King, editor and founder of

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This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

GLORIA PENNER: When Republicans won the majority in the house on November 2nd, they changed the career trajectory of North County's congressman Darryl Issa. Issa's not exactly a household name in San Diego. But he certainly is becoming known nationally of his party's victory moved him up from ranking Republican on the house over sight and government reform committee into the influential role of committee chairman. So just how powerful could he become and what might this mean for San Diego? John, the national press is calling congressman Issa the Republicans' chief watch dog, a thorn in the president's side, annoyer in chief, and other such descriptive phrases. Do you see him as targeting the president and becoming his chief tormenter.

JOHN WARREN: You know, the inscription on the archives building in Washington DC says, what is past is prologue. And I think Darryl Issa's gonna have a come to reality wake up when he gets into this position. Because, 50 of all, it's not gonna mean anything extra in terms of San Diego County. It's not gonna bring in dollars issue he's not gonna bring any jobs. Second of all, the whole reform movement is cyclical. In 1974, during the 12-year period I was on the hell, they started reform, I think it was the Nixon presidency. When were the party that's out of the White House is out, there's a move to have over sight and to look at all kinds of programs and to see some way to police that, because you are controlling that particular branch of government. Now, what's missing in this is two things that's very disturbing. The new speaker of the house has said that the number one priority of the Republican party is to make sure that Barack Obama is a one term Perez dense of that's most unfortunate, it should be to bring back some of the relief that the American people are looking for. Now comes Darryl ice who thinks he's gonna do over sight on everything. I have worked on every over sight committees on Capitol Hill. He's in war a wake up of he might go from 40 staff people on the minority side to 80. But he wants to have two subcommittees to hold two hearings a week, that's tying up resources, bringing people in there, that's creating a greater budget deficit in and of itself. And he has acknowledged that the house is gonna cut his billion because they want to start making a demonstration at home in terms of the Republicans going into control. So it's not gonna be as great, and he's already back ped lick, he called the president corrupt. Then he's gotta back up from it, and if he doesn't watch out, he's gonna make a fool of himself, he's gonna be the richest man in the house with the most powerful position who's a cross between McCarthy and Hitler. Andy will be a failure.

GLORIA PENNER: Okay, well, David King, you flinched when John said that.



DAVID KING: I think everybody did.

GLORIA PENNER: Okay, well -- all right, go ahead, tell me.

DAVID KING: Well, I -- you gotta have checks and balances within government here. And this over sight committee and the -- to do what the media can do a certain degree to reign in an administration. But you do need checks among the various branches of government. Bill Clinton didn't have anybody help him -- or excuse me, bill Clinton had no one help him more than Dan Burton who was his chief inquizitor. Of Darryl Issa's gotta be smart about this, and not foolish of or he'll just help Obama. So having hearings about wasteful spending of the government stimulus money is good, but if they go over board on this and over play their hand, they will only strengthen Obama.

GLORIA PENNER: Well, it was John who said that he didn't think that Darryl Issa's new position would have any influence at all on San Diego, whether first degree be doing anything for San Diego. I want to ask our listeners. You can still get in it very quickly at the end of the show now. Members of Congress are expected to bring home the bacon to their districts. Do you think that Darryl ice is gonna be in a better position to do this now that he has a powerful post as chairman of this house committee on over sight? Our number is 1-888-895-5727. 895-KPBS.

GLORIA PENNER: This house committee on over sight. Our number is 1-888-895-5727. 895 KPBS. Or don't you really know who Darryl Issa is? That might be the other question. Again we're at 895 KPBS. Do you agree with John on all of this, David Rolland, that it's not gonna mean one way or the other way to San Diego?

DAVID ROLLAND: Yeah, I might not have compared Issa to hit her, but everything else he said I'm pretty much there on. To the extent that Darryl Issa can find some waste in fraud in the way the federal government does its business, I'm fully in favor of that. If he can find through investigations that people are acting improperly, I'm fully in favor of that. But even the ututrecently was very skeptical of Issa, calling him a fierce partisan. And that's what we've seen from him so far. The whole acorn thing that he -- through his mijuvenile court position on the house over sight committee spear headed, you know, that was politically motivated. Acorn does an amazing job of registering poor people to vote, and they vote Democrat. So I don't think that he is going to approach his job from are any kind of bipartisan level. And I agree with my two colleagues here who say that he needs to approach this position with certain calmness and smarts and, you know, not froth at the mouth as he's going, you know, at the Obama administration.

GLORIA PENNER: But this is interesting because it's been reported that he's very aware of his power, and right after the poles closed in California last month, he said, quote, my portfolio is very broad. We own everything.

Reflect on that, please, David King.

DAVID KING: Power is very alluring. Everybody likes to have more power. And what Darryl Issa's being entrusted with is important. We've got enormous growth of government, enormous government spending today, and somebody needs to be keeping a check on this. But nothing could be more ludicrous than to say I'm gonna hold hearings and root out corruption, root out waste, but I'm gonna bring a lot of it back to San Diego. So we can't look at this as a boon dog for San Diego, we don't want a bridge to know we're built in San Diego, and on the other hand mine the hole process. The idea is to reign in. Of that is what the verdict of this leak was. We don't want government spending to grow. And that's what voters are saying. But you can't say, okay, now, well, we've got levers so we're gonna bring some back into San Diego.

DAVID ROLLAND: And he supports extending the tax cuts, which is incredible government spending.

GLORIA PENNER: Let's try to get some fast calls in. Callers if you can make your comments brief, I think we might be able to get to a couple of you, we'll start with Ron in Tierra Santa.

NEW SPEAKER: Yeah, this is very brief. I just want to suggest very strongly, we take Hitler out of the political equation in this country. I detest Darryl Issa, but he is no Hitler, and if we start Hitlering around we are never gonna get anywhere with our national politics.

GLORIA PENNER: Okay, thanks a lot, Ron, appreciate that. And I think that wane in Ramona, if you can be equally brief we'd like to hear what you have to say.

NEW SPEAKER: Good morning, thank fist are taking my call. I just want to say, I think on the city level and the county level, I think constituents [CHECK AUDIO] when we get to the Congress in Washington, the people who are there have a much greater responsibility then and there just to their constituents. They have a responsibility to the nation. Thanks.

GLORIA PENNER: Okay. Thank you. Final comments, gentlemen. We'll start with John Warren.

JOHN WARREN: Well, I'm not backtracking on the Hitler comment, I made it very consciously. Because hit her insisted on making everything his way. [CHECK AUDIO] it's very significant that the president when he did the healthcare bill pointed to waste in Medicare and pointed to the idea that part of that waste was gonna be recovered through restructuring to pay for the bill. I want to see some integrity in the over sight and not just assume that everybody is wrong and corrupt because he's now got the gavel.

GLORIA PENNER: Thank you John, David King.


DAVID KING: Let's get the guy -- [CHECK AUDIO] based on a couple of remarks that he makes right after an election. Let's see what he does.

GLORIA PENNER: Let me ask you, David, how might he make his new powers work best for the benefit of the nation in San Diego.

DAVID KING: I think that, again, looking at the past in order to learn from it. So how do we make changes to legislation? Looking -- to try and take on a whole EPA, and say I'm gonna unwind all of the [CHECK AUDIO] is ludicrous right now. But we do need to look at things like TARP, wall street, learn from our mistakes of the past and not repeat them?

GLORIA: Okay. You get the final comment, David Rolland. Do you think that this chairmanship and his ambition for it is a sign for additional political ambition?

DAVID ROLLAND: Yeah, Darryl Issa has -- even before this, he sought the lime light. You could always find him on the cable shows, so I think this is just sort of consistent with where he's been going.

GLORIA PENNER: Okay, well, thank you very much: Gentlemen, an interesting discussion, I want to thank our listeners and our callers especially for participating. Again, if you tried to get to us and you couldn't, it's on the web, slash Editors Roundtable. Roundtable. I want to thank David Rolland and John Warren and David King, and again, thanks to our caller and listeners. I'm Gloria Penner, this has been the Editors Roundtable on KPBS.

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