Thursday, November 06, 2008

How Much More Damage Can Bush Do On His Way Out The Door?


What's important Inside the Beltway today isn't the revelations coming from angry McCain staffers about the Wasilla hillbillies. It's certainly not about Michelle Obama's invitation from Laura Bush or Michelle Obama's couture that the infotainment networks can't babble enough about. And it's not even about the Republicans tossing Blunt and Putnam overboard or about Reid tossing grassroots activists a bone by making believe he's disciplining the detested and treacherous Joe Lieberman. It's not even about Murdoch's crumbling right-wing media empire. And it's not about Obama finding some of the worst possible Democrats on earth to fill top positions; well, actually that one is important. But even more pressing than any of that is yet another in what I'll bet anyone is a series of "one-last-grab" by the out-going Bushists.

Last Friday, even before they were 100% sure McCain was in for an historic defeat, the Bush Regime was called out by the Washington Post for more of their shenanigans on behalf of the very wealthy folks who own the country. They reported that the Bushists have 90 new regulations in mind, as many as 10% of them of a dire nature, and are "working to enact a wide array of federal regulations, many of which would weaken government rules aimed at protecting consumers and the environment" before Bush becomes persona non grata around the White House.
The new rules would be among the most controversial deregulatory steps of the Bush era and could be difficult for his successor to undo. Some would ease or lift constraints on private industry, including power plants, mines and farms.

Those and other regulations would help clear obstacles to some commercial ocean-fishing activities, ease controls on emissions of pollutants that contribute to global warming, relax drinking-water standards and lift a key restriction on mountaintop coal mining.

Once such rules take effect, they typically can be undone only through a laborious new regulatory proceeding, including lengthy periods of public comment, drafting and mandated reanalysis.

"They want these rules to continue to have an impact long after they leave office," said Matthew Madia, a regulatory expert at OMB Watch, a nonprofit group critical of what it calls the Bush administration's penchant for deregulating in areas where industry wants more freedom. He called the coming deluge "a last-minute assault on the public . . . happening on multiple fronts."

...Bush's aides are acutely aware of the political risks of completing their regulatory work too late. On the afternoon of Bush's inauguration, Jan. 20, 2001, his chief of staff issued a government-wide memo that blocked the completion or implementation of regulations drafted in the waning days of the Clinton administration that had not yet taken legal effect.

"Through the end of the Clinton administration, we were working like crazy to get as many regulations out as possible," said Donald R. Arbuckle, who retired in 2006 after 25 years as an OMB official. "Then on Sunday, the day after the inauguration, OMB Director Mitch Daniels called me in and said, 'Let's pull back as many of these as we can.'"

Clinton's appointees wound up paying a heavy price for procrastination. Bush's team was able to withdraw 254 regulations that covered such matters as drug and airline safety, immigration and indoor air pollutants. After further review, many of the proposals were modified to reflect Republican policy ideals or scrapped altogether.

That said, it should come as no surprise that while talking heads are wringing their hands about how much Palin's wardrobe really cost the RNC and how firm Harry Reid was with naughty Joe, a few members of Congress are eager to keep Bush from doing more harm on the way out the door.
Reid may be too but his statement only said "Today Senator Lieberman and I had the first of what I expect to be several conversations. No decisions have been made. While I understand that Senator Lieberman has voted with Democrats a majority of the time, his comments and actions have raised serious concerns among many in our caucus. I expect there to be additional discussions in the days to come, and Senator Lieberman and I will speak to our caucus in two weeks to discuss further steps." In other words nothing whatsoever. On the other hand, this is what today's CQPolitics is reporting:
On his way out the door, Bush may complete a host of environmental, health and labor rules with the intent of cementing his legacy. It would not be an unusual move for a lame-duck president. President Bill Clinton also issued a suite of new rules before departing the White House in 2001.

But congressional Democrats are already lining up to oppose some of the upcoming Bush administration rules, which could have a lasting impact on endangered species protection, air pollution standards, workplace safety and family and medical leave, among other areas.

A recent statement from the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called these proposals “ghoulish midnight regulations” that would be “harmful to all Americans.”

...“I can easily predict that on the more egregious rulemakings, there will be a desire to rescind them as quickly as possible,” said Eben Burnham-Snyder, a spokesman for Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass. “It also is helpful to an incoming President Obama.”

One possible target for Congress is an endangered species rulemaking roundly condemned by environmentalists and Democrats, Burnham-Snyder said. The proposal, which the Interior Department may conclude later this month, would allow federal agencies to decide on their own whether their actions harm endangered species, instead of consulting with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service.

Markey, chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, released a list of other pending environmental rules that he intends to oppose. They include revised air pollution standards for power plants, new regulations on air pollution in national parks and a rule to set up an oil shale leasing program in Western states.

“If you thought the first 100 days of the Bush administration were bad, just wait and see what the last 100 could bring,” Markey said in a statement.

Overturning a few high-profile Bush administration rules could give the Democratic-controlled legislative branch a chance to reassert its authority, after two years of being at odds with the White House.

“The point would be not only to fix the issue, but to send a clear message that his administration’s going to be different than Bush,” said Gary Bass, executive director of the advocacy group OMB Watch.

However, it may be difficult for Congress to drum up support to overturn any particular rule, particularly if the rule has the support of some conservative Democrats. For example, environmentalists oppose a pending EPA regulation to change air pollution standards for power plants, but a number of business-oriented Democrats will probably support it.

That's why it was so important for President-elect Obama's new chief of staff and his allies to elect more corporate shills like Bobby Bright (AL), Parker Griffith (AL), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ), Frank Kratovil (MD), Harry Teague (NM), Michael McMahon (NY), Steve Dreihaus (OH), Gerald Connolly (VA), and Glenn Nye (VA) while subverting or ignoring progressive candidates like Doug Tudor (FL), Annette Taddeo (FL), Rob Hubler (IA), Dennis Shulman (NJ), Debbie Cook (CA), and Bill Durston (CA).

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At 5:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more. I fully expect Harry Reid say that he'd love to help stop the deregulation, but the votes aren't there.

As for his act with Lieberman--whom does he think at this late date he's kidding? Has Harry the Paper Tiger ever backed up a single roar he's given? What a signal he sends for the new session, ahead! So it's pretty much business as usual, with the Republicans and Blue Dogs setting the tune. Bah!

At 3:03 AM, Blogger James R MacLean said...

"How Much More Damage Can Bush Do On His Way Out The Door?"

Kind of like the "Harrowing of America," only an exit wound?

Splendid website, BTW.

At 8:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, the Democratic Party did ignore Bill Durston (CA-3), even though it was clear to anyone who knew anything-- voter registration was almost even, and the Republican incumbent Lungren was very close to Bush-Cheney (in April, Lungren and Cheney flew out here on Air Force 2 for a Lungren fundraiser)-- that this race could have been won with more television money and mailers (funds for which a grassroots Campaign ignored by the Party bosses is unable to raise on its own). In the end, the Republican incumbent was reelected with 49%, possibly the lowest portion of the vote of any of the 435 that got elected this time around. Durston got 44%. It would have been more but for the fact that many voters didn't know who he was. The Democratic Patry gave the Durston Campaign $0. Nick in Sac

At 9:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the best things the new Senate could do would be to show Harry "Pussy" Reid the door.

Lieberman is effectively neutered anyway. It's more important to get rid of that worthless and ineffectual Reid.

At 10:23 AM, Blogger James R MacLean said...

One of the best things the new Senate could do would be to show Harry "Pussy" Reid the door.

Sorry to be obnoxious about it, but we've got to put a stop to the meme "female genitalia = cowardice or moral degradation."

Lieberman is effectively neutered anyway. It's more important to get rid of that worthless and ineffectual Reid.

No, and no. You're just talking tough because it sounds cool. Reid presided over a Senate in which he either placated a half-dozen Blue Dog Democrats, or lost the vote. Reid is in a position analogous to the President of the UN General Assembly. The POTUNGA can't make parliamentarians do anything they don't want to.

At 10:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or, for that matter, Minnesota Governor Pawlenty, which some in the GOP are seeing as their Last Great Hope for the Presidency in Indecision 2012?

At 6:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Reid presided over a Senate in which he either placated a half-dozen Blue Dog Democrats, or lost the vote."

So you're saying that he sold his soul unwillingly?

A better man would have stuck to his principles, even if it cost him his job as majority leader. But more likely, it would have brought primary challenges to those Bush Dogs, and we might have had a chance to get rid of some of them.

I thought Reagan was an absolute disaster as a president, but I have to admire him for one thing: He stood up for his principles. His principles were all wrong, but he did stand up for them. That's a quality that I have seen in very, very few Democrats.


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