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Issa: Oversight Committee Will Target Wasteful Spending

Updated: 12:47 p.m.

Incoming Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa said Sunday that during the 112th Congress he will use his position to try to identify about $200 billion in wasteful spending.

“I’m looking at about $200 billion as the amount we can either identify and eliminate the waste or at least begin the process,” the California Republican said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

He gave examples of cutting funding for a $500 million rocket program at NASA that had already been shut down and Medicare payments made to people who don’t need them. Issa said Medicare fraud totals $125 billion.

“These are real dollars. Ten percent of the deficit goes out in wasted money, money that doesn’t get one person health care in Medicare,” he said. “But $500 million here, $500 million there, that’s a billion, $125 billion in Medicare.”

He said he hopes to work with the administration to cut back on wasteful spending, walking back comments he previously made that President Barack Obama is corrupt.

“In saying that this is one of the most corrupt administrations, which is what I meant to say there, when you hand out $1 trillion in [the Troubled Asset Relief Program] just before this president came in, most of it unspent, $1 trillion nearly in stimulus that this president asked for, plus this huge expansion in health care and government, it has a corrupting effect,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“President Obama has the same goal I have,” Issa said. “Now he may want to respend the money somewhere else. I want the money not to be spent at all. But let’s first find the fraud and then we can decide how to not spend the money.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), who will serve as the top Democrat on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he would work with Issa to hold the administration accountable, but he wanted to be sure committee members don’t draw conclusions before holding hearings.

“I think that we’re just going to have to be careful with this power,” Cummings said. “And my approach is to make sure that we have oversight and reform, that is, we spent a lot of time on oversight but now we need to also have reform, if it is appropriate.”

Issa also said he would target “excess regulation cost to our businesses.”

“Government has to give predictability,” he said on “Face the Nation.” “It’s why regulations have to flow from the intent of the legislation, and it has to be done over time with public hearings, comments and buy-in.”

Issa, the wealthy founder of a car alarm company, was elected to Congress from part of southern California in 2000.

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