Bush concentrates more rule-making power in the hands of political appointees

A new executive order from President Bush will give political appointees much more power over rules and guidance documents related to the environment, public health, civil rights, and other areas — power previously held by lame old scientists and civil servants. 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.” Said Jeffrey A. Rosen of the White House Office of Management and Budget, “This is a classic good-government measure that will make federal agencies more open and accountable.” But critics say the move is a power grab by the White House that opens the door to economic excuses for not protecting public health and the environment. “There is no question who this panders to,” said Rena Steinzor, a University of Maryland law professor. “It’s something business has wanted.” Wait, businesses have a say in Bush’s decisions? That’s crazy talk.