President Bush has gotten the message that the Democratic Congress isn’t going to stand for further environmental deregulation or politically motivated weird science. Is he negotiating, as he promised to do in his feel-good press conference the day after the election? No, he’s issued an executive order shifting control of such social welfare mainstays as the EPA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the White House-controlled Office of Management and Budget.
The executive order requires that “each agency must have a regulatory policy office run by a political appointee.” As the New York Times puts it, “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.”
The president’s priorities apparently include avoiding regulations that might slow global warming or improve public health. The order requires agencies to prove that the market will not and cannot handle any problems they might try to resolve with legislation. If the order’s deregulatory bias isn’t already evident enough, its implementation will likely fall to Susan Dudley, Administrator of the OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Dudley is a notorious deregulation zealot. Prior to joining the administration, she led the oil industry-funded Mercatus Center, where she opposed regulations to address such no-brainer problems as smog and arsenic in the water supply.
Just how much damage can Bush do in his remaining 690 days?