Bring It On!

Desperate Bush Orders Political Gatekeepers For Government Agencies

January 30th, 2007 | by Ken Grandlund |

Having lost control of the Congress in the waning years of his ever-divisive and destructive presidency, President Bush has recently issued an executive order that mandates a political appointee in all government agencies that create regulations over businesses and other entities, especially those agencies that protect public health, safety, the environment, civil rights and privacy.

According to the New York Times article out today:

“In an executive order published last week in the Federal Register, Mr. Bush said that each agency must have a regulatory policy office run by a political appointee, to supervise the development of rules and documents providing guidance to regulated industries. The White House will thus have a gatekeeper in each agency to analyze the costs and the benefits of new rules and to make sure the agencies carry out the president’s priorities.

This strengthens the hand of the White House in shaping rules that have, in the past, often been generated by civil servants and scientific experts. ” (emphasis added)

Okay- so decisions that were once made by lifetime public servants with the experience of agency and business history to guide them in decision making, now we will have a political hack as final arbiter. Where once lifelong scientists were able to make decisions and regulations based on serious science, now we will have a Bush political appointee making sure that new regs don’t run afoul of the Bush doctrine of laissez-faire corporatism and anti-scientific bullshit.

This is not an improvement, despite White House spin to the contrary. Does anyone remember the FEMA fiasco of not so long ago? That is the result of placing political hacks in positions they have no experience being in. Has Katrina faded out of memory already? Or does Bush just hope that it has?

“The White House said the executive order was not meant to rein in any one agency. But business executives and consumer advocates said the administration was particularly concerned about rules and guidance issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. “

Right…anything that would prevent the President or his corporate benefactors from defiling the environment for momentary financial gain must be stopped. Get those hacks to work! Or heaven forbid that workers continue to have protection advocates looking out for them…that too costs business money. We simply can’t have these agencies running around protecting people without a compliant Congress to assure that no enforcement occurs, now can we?

Not if your name is Bush, we can’t.

I’ll grant that some lifelong bureaucrats can get out of control. I’ll grant that some government agency regulations can be onerous. But the solution for reform is not to fill these agencies with political hacks who have neither the beadth of experience or likely the passion to do the largely thankless work of protecting the public and the environment from the excesses of business. If the president really thought there was a problem with the way these agencies create and enforce regulations, which by the way are what their are designed to do- create rules to enforce the laws passed by Congress- then the best answer would have been to designate independent panels of non-partisan civilians who had the appropriate knowledge for that particular agency’s mandate. By tossing the door open, and to actually mandating political appointees to be the ‘gatekeeper’ of regulation, Bush has joined a not-so-distinguished list of politicians and political systems who can only maintain power and control by infiltrating the government at every level with political loyalists.

The Soviet Communist state had political officers all over the place. So did Hitler’s Germany. And the Republicans call Hugo Chavez’s new, near-total control of Venezuela’s government a power hungry ploy. My guess though is that they’ll praise Bush for his initiative in reining in government regulatory power. Funny how to some folks a duck is never a duck no matter how many times it goes quack.

[tag]Bush, politics, appointees, government+regulation, dictatorship[/tag]

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  1. 4 Responses to “Desperate Bush Orders Political Gatekeepers For Government Agencies”

  2. By Tod on Jan 30, 2007 | Reply

    This is really scary news. Each and every day that jackass and his cohort come up with yet another scheme to morally and fiscally bankrupt our great nation. As you note toward the end, the Soviet Union was riddled with political officers and secret police. Hitler’s Germany had the Gestapo (Geheim Staatspolizei - State secret police). You couldn’t even talk to your neighbor over the fence without worrying if he’d turn you in for something innocent that you said.

    I’m constantly reminded of the original Manchurian Candidate and what might have happened if the former soldier had assassinated the person he was supposed to. The Shrum might not be the “Manchurian” candidate but he sure as hell isn’t an American patriot. He’s the world’s #1 terrorist. Daily he demonstrates his total lack of concern or compassion for his fellow citizens, much less the citizens of the world.

  3. By SteveIL on Jan 30, 2007 | Reply

    ken said:

    I’ll grant that some lifelong bureaucrats can get out of control. I’ll grant that some government agency regulations can be onerous.

    This is absolutely correct.  But the solution you provide:

    If the president really thought there was a problem with the way these agencies create and enforce regulations, which by the way are what their are designed to do- create rules to enforce the laws passed by Congress- then the best answer would have been to designate independent panels of non-partisan civilians who had the appropriate knowledge for that particular agency’s mandate.

    adds on to the bureaucracy without oversight by Congress.  And I thought that part of the problem with the prior Republican majority in Congress was a lack of oversight.  And who gets to pick these independent panels?  The President?  Will they have to go through a confirmation hearing like the political appointees?  That’s where part of the oversight is supposed to be, in the confirmation hearing.  And Congress can’t pick these people; their job is to determine if political appointees are appropriate or not. 

    Besides, most hired bureaucrats, even well-intentioned ones, naturally move into these positions and attempt to be little empire builders in order to protect their position.  This would include putting in regulations that allow the bureaucrat to be part of the process, even if it weren’t appropriate.  And it’s not like bureaucrats are held accountable in the same way as a political appointee.  They are only accountable to their immediate superior, who may be just another hired bureaucrat, and that is it.

    One other point.  Adding “independent panels” to the Executive Branch only makes it unnecessarily stronger than the Legislative Branch.  The whole point is to make co-equal branches of the federal government, not let one branch off the hook from doing its job.  This would be true even if the President’s name didn’t end in Bush.

  4. By ken grandlund on Jan 30, 2007 | Reply

    SteveIL- Doesn’t Bush packing political gatekeepers also serve to “add to the bureaucracy without oversight by Congress?”

    For the record, I’m not saying that any of these agencies really need better oversight. Occasional bad practices by self-inflated bureaucrats can likely be handled as they are in private sector. It is Bush who seems to think that more oversight is needed. As such, I suggest that creating this new job title and then filling it with politically motivated brown-nosers isn’t fixing the problem either…it just shifts the focus of these agencies towards the Bush view which has thus far proven itself to be a detrimental view at all turns. If the president wanted a more honest review, he’d not have mandated for political appointees, and instead advocated for industry/consumer panels instead. He is trying to secure more control on agencies who are supposed to be inplementing the laws of the land.

     

     

  5. By SteveIL on Jan 30, 2007 | Reply

    Ken,

    While I understand what you are saying, it is the agency leader whose butt is on the line, not any panel, and it is Bush’s butt that is on the line.  All he’s doing is promoting the idea of co-equal branches and making sure Congress understands their responsibility in the government, and that is oversight on political appointments.

    Where this is political, and I think you’d agree with me, is that Bush waited until there was a Senate with a Democratic majority before doing this.  He could easily have issued this executive order years ago, and I think that is more related to party politics.  Irregardless, in the event there is a President who is of the Democratic Party, and a Congress whose majority number of members are in the Democratic Party, then this executive order will allow them to provide the needed oversight and avoid the same lack of oversight done by congressional Republicans.

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