On Thursday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Darrell Issa (R-CA), will hold a hearing on state and municipal debt. Parading a roster of ultra-conservative ideologues including Gov. Scott Walker to the witness stand, Issa will attempt to prove that the best way to move America forward is to deny hard-earned benefits to working Americans and their families in order to preserve tax breaks and other benefits for corporations and the wealthy. In fact, his hearings are more likely to provide further evidence of the massive influence corporate money has on our democracy, specifically the power of Charles and David Koch, who have lavished financial support on Chaiman Issa, committee members and witnesses.
“Darrell Issa is just another mouthpiece for far-right interests that wish to make the rich richer on the backs of hardworking Americans,” said Marge Baker, Executive Vice President at People For the American Way. “The Chairman has turned this committee into an echo chamber for the pro-corporate, anti-worker agenda of the billionaire Koch brothers and their allies. The extent of their influence over the witnesses and the committee members themselves all but guarantees that the GOP will continue to justify putting government at the service of corporate interests while demanding that middle class Americans make difficult sacrifices.” According to public disclosures, the Koch brothers have contributed $107,000 to 13 Republican members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee; $12,500 in Koch funding has gone to Issa specifically, along with $5,000 to his PAC. Among the witnesses are representatives of the National Right To Work Committee and American Enterprise Institute, both of which have received significant support from the Kochs.
“These hearings aren’t about budgets; they’re just more political theatre,” said Baker. “Issa and his allies are using our real economic problems as an excuse to push their extreme political agenda, shifting the burden of our debt to working Americans, while shielding their corporate donors from paying their fair share. This sham hearing is about legitimizing this assault on the middle class, and it just won’t fly.”