Undoing the Past to Enable the Future

The outgoing Bush Administration started in May of 08 authoring new regulations that would either be affect or set to go in affect by Nov. 1, 2008.  By finalizing midnight regulations at the beginning of November, the Bush Administration ensured that most of the rules would be in effect before Obama took the oath of office on Jan. 20 — in some cases, just before.

This kind of practice doesn’t sound politically fair, but I’m sure all administrations subscribe to this philosophy of “doing what you can, before leaving office”.  However, what is important is what is happening currently within President Obama’s Administration, which meaning receding many of these Executive Orders and re-authoring others to halt Executive Orders that cannot be stopped easily.

Both “Time” and “Politico” have published articles regarding their feelings on what President Obama can or can do to stop Bush’s Executive Orders.  Here are a few excerpts from Online Time:

Obama’s Challenge Cleaning Up the Planet After Bush

By Bryan Walsh Friday, Jan. 23, 2009

In his last few months in office, former President George W. Bush’s Administration pushed through over 150 “midnight regulations,” many of them weakening existing environmental protections. Although Obama is now in charge, most of Bush’s new rules are on the books, and changing them will take time and effort from an already burdened White House. “The Obama Administration will be saddled with reversing harmful Bush rules at the same time that Obama wants to enact his own agenda,” says John Walke, a senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Despite the Bush Administration’s deserved reputation for punctuality, not every new midnight regulation was finalized in time, and the Obama White House acted quickly to slow what it could. In the Administration’s first full day in office, White House chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel sent out a memo ordering a halt to all federal regulations not yet finalized until the new team could review them.

But many more rules remain on the books. They include regulations that allow mountaintop-removal mining projects to pollute streambeds with leftover dirt, and a Bush move to begin to permit drilling for oil and gas on the Outer Continental Shelf. Worse, they also include a drastic weakening of the Endangered Species Act, allowing federal agencies to bypass expert advice from federal scientists on whether proposed projects would have an impact on endangered species, essentially cutting the heart out of the act. “The number of regulations where the Bush Administration succeeded far outnumbered the ones where they failed,” says Walke.

Environmental groups like the NRDC are already seeking to challenge some Bush regulations in court, and the White House could at least maneuver to suspend — if not yet revoke — the rules while it seeks to overturn them. The Administration could also seek to withhold funding from certain regulations.

And these excerpts from Politico:

Can Obama erase Bush years?

By MIKE ALLEN | 1/22/09 1:05 PM EST

Day by day, order by order, President Obama is methodically erasing both the spirit and the substance of George W. Bush’s administration as he delivers on his promise of his change in rapid strokes.

Obama plans to continue his rejection of Bush doctrines large and small, reorienting the faith-based office toward neighborhood initiatives, seeking changes to the No Child Left Behind education act and evaluating the effectiveness of his predecessor’s spending programs.

Marc A. Thiessen, Bush’s chief speechwriter in his second term, wrote an opinion article in The Washington Post on Thursday: “President Obama has inherited a set of tools that successfully protected the country for 2,688 days — and he cannot dismantle those tools without risking catastrophic consequences.”

But Bush’s team is quickly finding that some of their iron-clad doctrines were written in sand.

“They know they have to walk a careful line between undoing what must be undone, because Bush was a terrible president, but not repeating the Bush mistake of tearing down anything that had President Clinton’s fingerprints,” Bennett said. “They’re trying to throw out the bathwater without the baby.”


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