Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), addressing a convention of liberal bloggers and activists Saturday evening, implored the left to fight to stay in power in the midterm elections.
“If Republicans take back Congress they’ll implement a truly dangerous agenda,” Franken told the Netroots Nation gathering in Las Vegas. “Everything is on the table, from repealing healthcare reform to privatizing Social Security.”
Franken warned that Joe Barton, who apologized to BP CEO Tony Hayward in an oil spill hearing, would become chairman of the House Energy committee should Republicans take back control of the House, and said “Darrell Issa is promising to double his staff and embark on a witch-hunt in the hopes of bringing down the Obama administration.” Being in the majority, Democrats currently have twice as many staff as Republicans on the Oversight Committee.
Issa (R-Calif.), the ranking member on the House Oversight and Government Reform panel, responded to Franken’s charges in a late-night e-mail statement.
“Obviously, Senator Franken is reading from the same misguided playbook that Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi and shares her belief that a Democratic Congress should give this administration immunity from legitimate questions and appropriate accountability,” Issa wrote. “Their statements are indicative of the desperate state their Majority is in and if the best case they can make is to caution the American people against the dangers of conducting legitimate and vigorous oversight, they is welcome to make that case.
“The fact of the matter is oversight should be done vigorously and effectively — even if it raises uncomfortable questions for the Obama White House and Democratic congressional leaders.”
Franken said he understood frustration among the left that not all agenda items were being pushed with the vigor they’d like, but told the activists “no matter how frustrated you are, you can’t check out now.”
“We have seen what happens when Republicans take control of Congress with a Democratic president and it ain’t pretty,” the senator said.
Franken said the country was “teetering on the brink of a double-dip recession” and criticized Republicans for eschewing the idea of another stimulus package. “They hide behind big talk about deficits as if deficits suddenly appeared at noon on Jan. 20, 2009,” he said.