I have complained previously about the people Mr. Bush appointments to executive positions in regulatory agencies because they were named in order to undermine the function of the agency. (Mr. Bush’s Appointment of Julie MacDonald 12/29) Now it appears Mr. Bush has found a new way of keeping regulatory agencies from doing their intended job. He has just issued a new executive order which gives him far greater power over government agencies. Mr. Bush’s order says each agency must have his political appointee supervise rules that give guidance to regulated industries. This hand picked "gatekeeper" function will give the White House more power over rules that regulate corporate business conduct. The order also requires agencies to state in writing the "specific market failure it intends to cure with a new rule" which is a significant additional burden. Agencies will be required to estimate the cost of planned rules and the Bush political appointee will oversee that process as well. All of these restrictions represent significant new hurdles for agencies to clear before they can issue rules to protect public health and safety.
We have already seen how Mr. Bush’s other agency political appointees have not stopped at merely impeding regulatory action over industry behavior, but have brazenly re-written and edited scientific reports which are critical of corporate actions or call for increased government regulation. We have also seen this administration appoint people who have an agenda of undermining the function of regulatory agencies. The majority of these appointments do not require approval of congress. Now Mr Bush, by this executive order, has taken another step to muzzle the effectiveness of regulatory agencies.
Peter Strauss, a Columbia law school professor, was quoted as saying: "It may not be surprising that having lost control of congress, the president is doing what he can to increase control of the executive branch."
We can judge the fairness and appropriateness of the new order by the fact that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and business hailed the order as a good government practice.
In fact, this order is nothing more then one more step by this president to impede hundreds of government agencies from doing their job of regulating corporate behavior for the protection of the American public. Keep in mind the White House nomination to the position of administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). (The Bush Administration Makes Another Bad Appointment 12/23/06) This agency has enormous power to weaken, delay or eliminate agency regulations of all federal agencies. The person Mr. Bush selected has a background totally adverse to the function of this agency and the nomination was clearly another attempt to keep agencies from regulating industry. Not content with loading agencies with people whose intent is to hinder their work, not content with a political appointee over a critical position at the OIRA, he now uses an executive order to tighten the noose even more. Has there ever been a president who has done more to give corporations and big business an unregulated free hand to do what they want in their drive to earn more profits no matter what the impact on people and their environment?