Monday, January 29, 2007


I really hate this idea of executive fiat. The president, regardless of who s/he is, really shoudln't be able to write laws disguised as policy and "interpretation". Signing statements, which Bush is inordinately fond of, executive orders, etc smack of an end-run around the proper process of legislation.

Some are pretty innocuous, of course, but others -- like the recent EO by Bush that puts politically appointed oversight over many government organizations -- bypass the "normal" process and don't allow the public a chance to even comment on the ramifications, much less have their representatives in congress decide on things.
NYT - January 30, 2007 President Bush has signed a directive that gives the White House much greater control over the rules and policy statements that the government develops to protect public health, safety, the environment, civil rights and privacy. 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.
Shouldn't the priorities of the president be our priorities? I can even agree with the logic that there should be a test as to whether the government should interfere/set rules in any given situation -- there should be some check as to whether we really need a government agency sticking its nose in things. But this sort of rule shouldn't be dictated by fiat, and especially by an administration/president who has shown a remarkable disregard for science and proper process. I don't want a political appointee who may not have any particular expertise (and remember how fabulously effective those appointees have been in handling other government roles? Remember Katrina?) making decisions on what documents are published, what data is used to make decisions. Yeah, take that responsbility from the scientific community and put it in the hands of political appointees. This sounds like a good idea? Putting the beancounters in charge of policy?
Besides placing political appointees in charge of rule making, Mr. Bush said agencies must give the White House an opportunity to review “any significant guidance documents” before they are issued. ...
Nice. Censor data that is being used and disseminated by the departments in question. Don't like that the dept of Health and Human services has come out supporting condom use? Don't like that food regulations will impact corporate profits? Don't like the information about pollution? Want to further your own particular belief system? Regardless of what the intent was, this executive order just made it easier to supress that sort of information and make sure that any documents released by the government conform to the propaganda. Here's hoping congress addresses this soon.

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