Just the other day I was thinking to myself that we have all but forgotten about George W. Bush — a blissful thought, to be sure, but a scary one. ‘Cos while our attention is elsewhere, that vile administration is still in office, doing who knows what with impunity. Remember the made-up stories about the havoc wrought by an outgoing Clinton staff? How much you wanna bet that it will happen for real on January 20?
Meanwhile, they’re working overtime to leave behind a dubious legacy. In today’s Washington Post:
The White House is working to enact a wide array of federal regulations, many of which would weaken government rules aimed at protecting consumers and the environment, before President Bush leaves office in January.
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.”
I can’t imagine why anyone wants to be president following Bush. Assuming re-election, the next president will spend 8 years cleaning up the mess and won’t be able to actually make much progress on his own priorities.