A Los Angeles Times story today on the corruption and incompetence of the Minerals Management Service, the federal department charged with ensuring the safety of offshore oil drilling, ended with a zinging final paragraph that should compel Congress to oversee and reform its own House Committee on Oversight and Reform for the lawmakers’ tragic failure to insist that its reports be read and acted upon by their colleagues whom the public entrusts with protecting our country’s economic and environmental interests.
As if it were not bad enough that during the recent banking meltdown many of the SEC regulators who were supposed to be regulating the financial industry were busy viewing porn (see article here) when not lying in bed with those whom they were allegedly regulating, in the wake of the recent offshore oil drilling fiasco federal regulators were found to be taking bribes, falsifying inspections and behaving more like criminals than lawmen-a shady scenario with which every Congressional representative should have been familiar if the House Committee on Oversight and Reform had been doing its job.
As the final paragraph in the L.A. Times article stated, “The top Republican on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Rep. Darrell Issa of California, said the report ‘echoes the same problems that have been exhaustively reported on for years. In the course of a decade, we’ve had 10 IG reports, 9 GAO reports and a report released just last year by Oversight Committee Republicans highlighting the failures within MMS and yet it still took a massive catastrophe to get anyone to read these reports and agree on the need for a massive bureaucratic overhaul.'”
Could House Committee on Oversight and Reform Have Prevented Gulf Oil Spill?
For those unable or too lazy to do the math, more than 20 reports in 10 years cried out “Danger, Will Robinson!” flashing big red warning lights that the recent explosion and sinking of the offshore oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico could occur, a preventable tragedy that has resulted in the leaking of more than 17 million gallons of oil as of today (according to the PBS News Hour Gulf Leak Meter; click here for widget).
The “same problems” Rep. Issa alluded to included safety inspectors “flying high in private jets” and allegedly allowing “industry officials to fill out their own inspection forms in pencil, then writing over them later in pen,” according to the L.A. Times article. So, where was the House Committee on Oversight and Reform during this time?
Sen. Tom Coburn Calls Congress ‘Incompetent’ on Morning Joe
Although he was not talking about the Gulf of Mexico offshore oil fiasco or lack of oversight by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform at the time, Sen. Tom Coburn pretty much said what is on the minds of those Americans who still have the heart to read or watch the news in this age of lawmakers and bureaucrats behaving more like Marlon Brando in “The Godfather” than Jimmy Stewart in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” Speaking of Congress, an institution of which he seemed to feel sheepish to be counted as a member, Coburn said, “We’re incompetent. I wonder who the 23 per cent of the American people are who trust us?”
“Morning Joe,” MSNBC, May 27, 2010