Trump Takes Aim At The Watchdogs …

We don’t hear much about the inspectors general who work quietly behind the scenes to keep our government relatively efficient and free of scandal and corruption.  Every major federal agency and program has an inspector general, a nonpartisan, independent official whose staff investigates cases of wasteful spending, criminal activity, employee misconduct and plain bad management. Given the current state of our federal government, these inspectors are more needed than ever.  But …

Just before Trump’s inauguration, an email went out from Katie Giblin, a member of Trump’s transition team, to the inspectors general to let them know that Trump would be considering firing them en masse.  The email said that they would be held over only on a temporary basis and that they should seek other employment. Some inspectors general assigned to cabinet departments received the information by a phone call

A bit of history about the Office of Inspector General. Following scandals in federal programs, inspectors general were placed in a dozen agencies by an act of Congress in 1978. The law tasked the inspectors general with conducting audits and investigations of their departments and issuing reports to Congress and their agency heads. Their goal is to ferret out deficiencies and problems for corrective action. Today there are 73 inspectors general, nearly half of whom are appointed by the president, while the rest are appointed by their agency chiefs. Reflecting their nonpartisan role, inspectors general typically stay in their positions when presidential administrations change.

After much protest from the inspectors and a scheduled hearing by the House Oversight Committee, the Trump team reversed course.  According to Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, the email and phone calls were a mistake made by a junior person on the transition team.  Problem solved, right?  Well, not quite …

So, to continue the story, the inspectors general and their staffs did not get ‘done in’ by the axe, but are instead being depleted through attrition.  Trump’s administration, if it can truthfully be called such, is failing to hire for open positions and planning to slash the offices’ budgets.  Michael Horowitz, chairman of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, recently reported to Congress that in fiscal 2015 alone, the offices identified $26 billion in potential savings and recovered an additional $10 billion through criminal and civil cases. That’s a return of $14 for every dollar in the offices’ budgets.

Let us look at some of the other past successes as a result of these investigations.

  • In 2008, for instance, the Interior Department’s inspector general, Earl Devaney, delivered three reports to Congress detailing widespread corruption and conflicts of interest in the division overseeing the oil industry, leading eventually to a thorough departmental reorganization.
  • The special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction found weaknesses in planning, executing, and sustaining $488 million worth of American investments in Afghanistan’s extractive industries.
  • Inspectors at the Department of Homeland Security unearthed technical problems that resulted in cost overruns of 480 percent while increasing national security risks.
  • The inspector general for the Social Security Administration discovered $345 million in underpayments to 50,000 people.
  • Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program has gone after 96 bankers; at least 36 of whom went to prison.

These guys do good work, but today nearly one-quarter of inspector general offices have either an acting director or no director at all, including the offices at the C.I.A., the National Security Agency, the Department of Defense and the Social Security Administration. The inspectors’ offices are deeply affected by the current federal hiring freeze and would be further harmed by the administration’s proposed budget cuts. The budget takes unexplained specific aim at the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, created in part to monitor the $700 billion taxpayer bailout for big banks. In 2015 its investigators helped prosecute General Motors for covering up a defective ignition switch responsible for at least 15 deaths, securing a $900 million settlement. The administration wants to cut its budget in half, to $20 million.

It is no mystery why Trump & Co wish to derail the Office of the Inspector General and its staff … its function is oversight, and that is exactly what Trump does NOT want.  But it is what We The People must demand, for it is our tax dollars that are being wasted, and further, we do not want to allow the Trump tribe to have free rein to do as they please with no accountability.  Congress has demonstrated bipartisan willingness to step up for inspectors general in the past. Now it needs to protect the watchdogs from an administration that wants to starve them.


38 thoughts on “Trump Takes Aim At The Watchdogs …

  1. This is what happens when you have a person who is not suitable for the office of the President of The United States of America, and whose only criteria is that through the election process won the necessary majority.
    Other than the latter, you have no president.
    God Help The People of America.
    Take care Jill
    Make the mid-terms in 2018-hurt!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree … we have no president, but worse, we actually have an ‘anti-president’, a ‘man’ who is determined to destroy the very foundation upon which our country is built. And yes, you know I will be pounding the keys for several months prior to the mid-terms, but that is yet 17 months away, and I fear we cannot take another 17 months of the idiocy we have seen over the past 5. Impeachment or Article 25 simply need to happen!

      Liked by 1 person

        • Agreed. I am purposely not writing about the attack on Representative Scalise just yet, because my inclination is to say it is the fault of Trump for all the hatred and divisiveness he brought to our nation, but I think the situation deserves a more measured response. Violence is NOT the way to make a point … never solved anything, never will. But … sadly I fear that we are going to see more of this if something does not change soon, and even I am at a loss as to how to heal the Great Divide in this nation. You guys had a significant divide last year over Brexit, but you aren’t out trying to kill one another. I wonder what the difference is. Obviously, one aspect is that we have pretty much no regulation on guns, whereas you guys have some of the strictest laws on the globe. But I think it goes even beyond that, perhaps to civility? Respect? I don’t know … I’m just grasping at straws here …

          Liked by 1 person

          • It’s hard to pin down Jill just what really drives folk to turn to violence.
            We have low key violence and the constant bile of hate-stuff on the Social Media and a year ago the beautiful, brave and talented Jill Cox MP was gunned down by a twisted old man.
            I’ll throw this out in the ring for discussion.
            The USA is still a young nation by our stand ards and one which grew out of mass migration (yep alt. right, can’t deny it). Maybe there is still a restlessness and agitation which still has to settle down.
            One thing going for the US is a 300,000,000 population 5 time zone nation is still working hard to hold democracy together.
            And this Whitehouse occupancy? Historically look at how much malignant influence Joe McCarthy had for a few years and when he fell…boy did he fall.
            Hang on in there USA you are bigger and better than the current crew.
            Yea Team!! 🙌 👏 👋 👍

            Liked by 1 person

            • You may have something there with the ‘young nation’ theory. And … perhaps just like giving a child too much at too early an age, the U.S. became a world leader early (relatively speaking) in its history, and it went to everyone’s head. There seems to be a large contingent that believes Europe and the rest of the world simply cannot survive without the U.S. And they think we should be able to call the shots. I shall have to ponder this a bit more.

              Many thanks for your confidence! I suppose I sometimes get carried away and foresee nothing but gloom and doom in our future, but you are right … this, too, shall pass … sooner would be better. 🙂 I’m really tired of hearing all the finger-pointing and lies and loud, ugly voices! Some days I just want to yell “SHUT UP … ALL OF YOU!!!” And then realize that makes me one of those loud voices, so I just sigh and sit back down at my computer. 😀

              Liked by 1 person

              • All nations Jill are at the behest of History and the forces which make History. Truth be told now one people have complete control over their destinies. Some would do well to consider this and think ‘How best can I serve my fellow Humans’

                Liked by 1 person

                • Yes, some would do well to ponder that … but too many are of the opposite mindset … “what can everybody else do to help ME?” I call it the ‘me-istic’ crowd, and the crowd is getting bigger by the day, it seems! But you are correct that all nations are at the behest of history, and also that the U.S. hasn’t enough history to be able to relate this period to anything in its own history. You know … part of the problem is that too many people do not bother to spend time thinking. Thinking, that is, about the world, how we came to the point we are, the role we play … they just seem to pass through the surface of life without ever really living it. Oh my … it must be getting late, for I am rambling 🙃

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Not rambling at all Jill.
                    A loud portion of the population just don’t see the BIG picture.
                    And this just isn’t the Alt Right either, this applies to ‘worthy columnists’ ‘thinkers’ and ‘pundits’.
                    It all links together.
                    Sweet dreams Jill

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • Admittedly it does … all link together … but sometimes it is so wide in scope that it is impossible to take it all in. So, we live in our own little corners of the world and develop tunnel vision.

                      On another note, I caught the breaking news from BBC tonight about the van that drove into a crowd of people at a mosque in London, and I remembered you telling me how the mosques opened their doors and helped after the tower fire earlier this week … and my heart broke. Again. You and I have been around a while, Roger … we’ve seen some ugly times in our lifetimes. I well remember the horrors of the civil rights era in the 1950s – 1960s. But other than that, I cannot remember another time that was as ugly as these days, can you? And even the ugliness of the civil rights era was not as widespread as todays hatred is. What was the catalyst that set off all the vitriol we are seeing? Is there an end, or does it just keep getting worse until we obliterate one another? Don’t worry, I don’t actually expect answers, as I imagine you ask the same questions I do. I just sometimes need to voice the questions, and my cats have long since stopped listening to me … 🙂

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • I know Jill. I picked up on the news and went into Defcon 10 anger mode, all set to go onto one of the ‘religious’ forum sites and started a full-blaze insult row with those who attack Islam. Then (it must have been because I’d been to Mass last night) I thought, wait, breath.
                      I went onto the Finsbury Park mosque site and left a message of support. I felt better.
                      I’ll post up on my blog a suggestion everyone do the same. 😢🙏

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • You are right, of course, and I will check for your suggestion, as I would very much like to offer my support also. But, like you, I wanted to bash someone. I didn’t … for the simple reason that I was working on my “Jolly Monday” post at the time, and I somehow feel it is my job, my commitment to provide non-political laughs to my readers on Monday morn, but it was tough tonight, after hearing this news. I literally had tears rolling down my face, while trying to find something to make us all laugh tomorrow (this) morning. Damn the bigots. Damn the haters. Sorry, Roger, but … I cannot help it tonight.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Yes, we do, don’t we? So many people comment on my Monday posts that it made them feel better, started their week out right. So much ugly in the world … we sometimes forget to see the beauty. Thanks for encouraging me, dear Roger! And by the way … I also sent a brief message of solidarity and condolence to the Mosque … thank you for the link!

                      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Jill,

    Well of course! As per DDT, any oversight of business excesses and callous mistreatment of the consumer only stand in the way of businesses making more monies. DDT ascribes to the survival of the fittest and the alt-right concepts which are totally devoid of decency, the concept of fair play and compassion.
    Did you see his round table of sycophants having to pay him homage? Sick, sick, sick.

    Hugs, Gronda

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jill, the President does not want criticism, so fire those who might be critical. This goes part and parcel with his attacks on the press, Comey and what has started on Mueller. He is building a narrative that Mueller will be unfair and that this is all political. He, of course, has done nothing wrong, so it must be others. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

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