Iowa Senator Tom Harkin has been a constant critic of President Bush’s policies in Iraq, but Harkin wouldn’t say “I told you so” when asked by reporters today about the Iraq Study Group report. Harkin, a Democrat, does say the report does not paint a pretty picture for the administration.
Harkin says the study report indicates that the U.S. has to have a change of direction. “It really is an indictment of the president’s failed policies in the Middle East,” Harkin says. Harkin says the report really shows how “out of touch” the president and the people around him have been.
Harkin says the report could spur positive changes. Harkin says, “Hopefully we’ll take it to heart and start making some significant changes.” Harkin says the change in the Secretary of Defense should make a difference, but Harkin says he thinks there’s still a problem with the Secretary of State not giving good advice to the president.
Harkin’s party will take control of the Senate when they come back in January, and Harkin is promising to work to cut the budget deficit. Harkin says they’re going to try to have more “sensible” budgeting, including having Medicare be able to bargain for drug prices with big drug companies. Harkin says there are “at lot of ways we can close a lot of these loopholes.”
Harkin says the Democrats won’t spend what they don’t have. Harkin says they will have a “pay-go” budget, where if you want something, you have to pay for it, or cut something else. Harkin says Democrats budgeted that way before and they want to get that back again. Harkin says they also have to do more checking up on how the money is spent.
Harkin says they need more oversight over the “waste and fraud and abuse” in government. For example, he says he’s read there are 100-thousand independent contractors in Iraq getting money from the government. Harkin says there needs to be investigations into the contractors to find out who they are. Harkin says good oversight has been “sorely missing.”