For a party invested so heavily in marketing government as the solution to every problem, the Democrats have been strangely reluctant to take advantage of opportunities to build trust in the institutions of government. But since Democrats won control of the House, government oversight has virtually gone into hibernation.
Instead of prosecuting waste, fraud and abuse within the world's largest bureaucracy, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has transformed congressional oversight from a government watchdog to the opposition research arm of the Democrat National Committee. It happened fast.
As I explain in my upcoming book, "Power Grab," one of Pelosi's first moves when the she took the gavel was to rename the Oversight & Government Reform Committee to just the Oversight & Reform Committee. She literally took the government out of government reform. Suddenly the imperative to root out government waste, fraud and abuse was lost in the political goal to root out a sitting president and any business that supports his agenda.
The new focus of the oversight role is twofold: to provide political advantage for the 2020 election cycle and to expand oversight reach deep into the private sector.
More from OpinionDaniel Turner: Bernie Sanders’ Green New Deal is an impossible dream that would be a nightmareDeroy Murdock: Index capital gains tax to make America even greaterJustin Haskins: Ocasio-Cortez has yet another bad idea that makes no sense and would cause big problems
In advance of the 2020 election, Pelosi signaled the upcoming political transformation with the reorganization of House subcommittees. For example, on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Democrats eliminated the Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade Subcommittee and replaced it with a new Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee that is investigating all things Trump.
The imperative to root out government waste, fraud and abuse has been lost in the political goal to root out a sitting president and any business that supports his agenda.
Who cares about terrorism or nuclear proliferation when you can be the seventh House committee to try to duplicate the Mueller investigation? More significantly, on the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee, three new committees were created:
The Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Committee is producing fodder for Democratic identity politics in the 2020 political campaigns.The Committee on the Environment promotes the Democratic priority to use climate change as a pretext to grow government.The Economic and Consumer Policy Committee allows Democrats to expand their limited oversight jurisdiction over the federal government into broad oversight of the entire U.S. economy.
Which brings us to the second focus of Democratic oversight: to politically police the private sector in lieu of any sort of government oversight.
For Democrats, government is never the problem. Government is always the solution. We are seeing little serious oversight of actual federal employees from any House committee unless the targets are Trump appointees.
Suffice it to say that the federal workforce is resting easy with Democrats at the helm. There is little transparency to check their power with this new focus on the private sector.
In fact, Pelosi has put structural disincentives in place to ensure minimal government oversight. She inexplicably stacks the Oversight Committee with members from districts with heavy concentrations of federal employees, including Chairman Elijah Cummings, of Maryland, and District of Columbia Delegate Eleanor Holmes-Norton.
Case in point: the Government Operations Subcommittee, which traditionally investigates much of the wrongdoing by federal employees, is now chaired by Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly, whose 11th District has more federal employees than any other district in America, save Washington, D.C.
Connolly literally cannot win reelection without the support of federal employees. His donor list reflects this reality, with public sector unions consistently numbering among his top contributors.
Why is Connolly the man Democrats chose to investigate the operations of the federal government? Because when it comes to the federal employees who predominantly vote Democrat and whose unions donate richly and almost exclusively to her caucus, Pelosi doesn’t want Connolly there to play offense. He’s there to play defense.
Doesn’t it seem strange that the Democrats would choose people to oversee federal mismanagement who are beholden to the very people they must hold accountable? If you really want effective oversight, wouldn’t you choose someone less vulnerable to such conflicts?
Meanwhile, Cummings has his sights set on private entities. In perfect alignment with his party's agenda to open the borders and install government run healthcare, Cummings is busy targeting companies that provide goods and services to government detention facilities as well as pharmaceutical companies.
Oversight should be focused on government reform. Each time a new Inspector General report is released, Congress should be working hand in hand with federal agencies to make government work better.
Instead, they excuse poor behavior and then wonder why Americans don’t trust government to single-handedly end the earth’s heating and cooling cycles.
Pelosi seems to believe oversight tools are far too valuable politically to waste on government accountability or problem solving. These are not her priorities. They don’t excite the base to donate to political campaigns and nonprofits. They do not generate invitations to Sunday news shows or get members featured in viral media clips. Instead, she wants the oversight tools for her war on Donald Trump.
As the evidence piles up in the Spygate scandal, House Democrats seem completely unfazed by the potential dangers of government FISA abuse, classified information exposure, and widespread leaking of sensitive information. By failing to grasp the significance of the damage to the government’s reputation, the party of big government actually undermines big government.