A new directive from President George W. Bush to federal agencies adds layers of bureaucracy to the process of issuing regulations and gives the White House greater control over agencies’ rules. Critics say the directive, issued Jan. 18, will slow down regulation. They say it also shifts regulatory priorities, which were set by Congress in federal laws, away from protection of health and environment to economic rationales. Some industry groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, praise the directive. “It’s the first truly significant attempt by an Administration to hold federal bureaucrats to account and insist they act with discretion when imposing new and expensive burdens on businesses and consumers,” says William Kovacs, the chamber’s vice president of environment, energy, and regulatory affairs. Under the new directive, agencies can regulate only when they can demonstrate to the White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) that the free market is not producing the desired results of the rule, such as health protection. To show that a new rule is warranted, agencies must identify what economists call “market failures”—such as when an industrial sector with unfettered pollution sells its products more cheaply than it would have had it included the cost of pollution control into the price of its goods.
Sounds reasonable, does it not! All the good buzzwords thrown in there, “Cost-Benefit Analysis”, “Market Failure”, etc. But note that the burden of proof is on the regulating body to come up with a clearcut “proof” before passing regulation.
In addition, the directive requires each agency to have a presidentially appointed “regulatory policy officer.” The agency cannot begin work on a new rule—even one required by Congress through a law—until it gets a green light from its regulatory policy officer or unless the head of the agency gives approval.
The Emperor gets to appoint a viceroy to police the agency to ensure that no such regulation will get passed.
Note the modus operandi:
- Appoint lackey to head agency
- Appoint viceroy to oversee regulation
- Rewrite rules to increase power of executive over legislative
- Shift burden of proof away from the regulated to the regulators
- Slash budgets so regulating agencies cannot do the work adequately
- Hound competent employees out of the agency
- Routinely bash said agency as an example of “big government”. Repeat steps 4-7 as often as necessary to ensure “success”
Banana republic, indeed.