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Seamans: Commissions

06/07/10 5:55PM By Bill Seamans
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(HOST) Veteran network news correspondent Bill Seamans says he sees a familiar pattern developing in Washington's response to the BP oil spill.

(SEAMANS) The legislative tendency for solving problems in Washington seems to be---do nothing until something happens.  If you offer a proactive solution you risk it might go wrong and that you will look bad to your constituents back home.  But reluctant lawmakers rise to the challenge AFTER a national incident happens like the disastrous Gulf oil leak.  They failed to oversee established oil drilling regulations intended to prevent such leaks but they now look for the tv news cameras to demand that "something must be done!"

Rocking from the post-facto blame game, our legislative leaders have resorted to a flurry of investigations. There are three congressional hearings going on now. And as a card-carrying cynic I cannot help but ask why THREE?  Is this politically inspired, wasteful time-consuming duplication?  Louisiana Republican Senator David Vitter thinks so. He said of the Democratic-chaired inquiries, "The time for committee hearings is after the well has been capped, not before."

The ultimate in Beltway Committee-Think is President Barack Obama’s appointment of an independent commission to investigate offshore drilling and the BP oil spill.  It will seek the causes and presumably offer recommendations for new laws, regulations and agency reforms to prevent such disasters.  The bipartisan commission’s seven members will bring to the table their experience in science, engineering and the oil and gas industry.

It will take perhaps up to six months to produce a report for the White House.  But already the alarms of Congressional criticism are being heard charging that the Obama commission is a political diversion.   But those nay sayers may be shooting at themselves.

It’s recalled that most of the important recommendations of the prestigious commission formed to tighten up homeland security after the 9/11 attack have been ignored by Congress SIX years, yes SIX years after they were called critically needed to fight terrorism  A common radio system still has not been established to enable first responders from different agencies to talk to each other, one of 9/11’s greatest failures.   Oversight of government intelligence has not been improved and instead of adopting strict mandatory security measures, Congress has so far failed even to renew a list of voluntary precautions due to expire in October.

Critics could ask that if the key findings of President George Bush’s supremely important 9/11 commission report have been ignored, what effect will President Obama’s investigative commission have on preventing future oil drilling disasters?  Will it also be allowed by Congress to fade away?

(HOST TAG) To hear all of Bill Seamans' commentaries, you can go to vpr-dot-net.
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