Issa Defines 'Compromise' on Top Line

ABC's Z. Byron Wolf reports:

Rep. Darrell Issa seems like a man of contradictions. If Republicans take the House of Representatives he’ll be the Republican point man on the House Committee that investigates the government (aka the Obama administration).

But Issa has struck a conciliatory tone in recent days. He told the Wall Street Journal Tuesday that Americans expect Congress to “create compromise and advance their agenda. They want us to come together after we agree to disagree."

Compromise, it turns out, is a relative term.

“You know, the word 'compromise' has been misunderstood,” he said, clarifying that his job will be “Getting America back to the center right where it exists.”

He said he’ll seek changes in the health reform, like forcing HHS to more clearly explain which companies are eligible for waivers from requirements in the law.

“That's an example where (Democrats) need to come off of a failed bill they passed on a partisan basis and come together and do something that's good to help deal with a growing cost of health care that we both agree needs to be tackled.”

Issa told us what that compromise might look like: “I believe a lot of it's going to be being fiscally responsible and holding government accountable… (Americans are) going to expect us to go back to the basics, make sure that every penny is well spent and well thought out and quite frankly make sure that a lot of that money is no longer spent.”

And he suggested he may not reopen the book on whether the White House unduly tried to entice Democrats Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania and Andrew Romanoff in Colorado out of their respective Senate races before bruising primaries.

“If I can get cooperation from the Democrats and the administration to end this practice then we don't have to look retrospectively, but we can prospectively explain that American tax dollars will not be used for political gain of one party or the other in the future,” he said.

Issa recently told Time that most of his investigations would be “boring” to most people. Today he elaborated, suggesting that if Republicans take the House his first investigations into the US government – as soon as he gets to the bottom of why hundreds of his letters to the US government haven’t been answered -– would revolve not around corruption, but around food safety.

Issa said the government goes too far in recalling bad food.

This is one of the areas that may bore people, but you know,” he said. “ We had a recall of spinach, when in fact, we should've recalled only the bad spinach. We have a food safety epidemic in this country, where we have this mass, uncontrolled problems where we don't even seem to know who we should recall from. So we bring back millions of pounds of meat or millions of pounds of spinach. Now that's boring, but getting the FDA and the USDA to come together and get food safety properly done is an example where it's long overdue under both administrations.”

Issa also outlined plans to make sure the current administration hues more closely to the Presidential Records act and that even email sent from personal accounts like Gmail is preserved by archivists as official White House correspondence from staffers.

We also, given Republican Meg Whitman’s record-breaking $140 million personal expenditure in her race for Governor in California asked him about self-financed candidates. Issa, who made his own fortune in the car alarm business, spent more than $10 millions of his own money on a failed bid for California Governor (I mistakenly said $14 million). He said dropping that kind of cash is the only way for a non-politician to raise their name recognition in a large state. He pointed to NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg as a successful self-financed candidate.

"One of the challenges in California with the $38 million people, just to get name ID equal to a career politician costs a lot of money. And I found that when I ran and for about $10 million, I wasn't as well known as my opponent on Election Day. So I think all for us understand that starting early, starting in building is part of the American tradition. At the same time, Meg Whitman has an important message for California, one she thinks she needs to take straight to the top and I support that,” he said.

We also checked in with Shane D’Aprile of The Hill newspaper, which recently published a poll that finds most Democrats are not concerned that Tea Party and Republican candidates are “extreme” so much as that they could jeopardize social programs like Social Security.

D’Aprile also told us about The Hill’s analysis of several swing districts, which show some (little) good news for Democrats. Rep. Patrick Murphy, a Democrat first elected in 2006 in Suburban Philadelphia – one of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “Majority Makers” - leads his opponent by three percentage points. While a statistical dead heat, Murphy is an important bellwether for Democrats. His district has been hit hard by the economic downturn, but Murphy remains competitive.

--Z. Byron Wolf

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