Friday, August 20, 2004

It looks like the New York Times is finally getting on the ball when it comes to looking into the administration's behind-the-scenes work. In last Saturday's edition, there was a front page story about the administration restricting public release of data regarding unsafe automobiles. The article cited the administration's argument that it is attempting to maintain manufacturers competitive edge. How this is supposed to assist customers in making purchases is unknown.

The best part of the article, however, comes a little further down when the writer addresses the fact that this is far from an isolated case.
"Allies and critics of the Bush administration agree that the Sept. 11 attacks, the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq have preoccupied the public, overshadowing an important element of the president's agenda: new regulatory initiatives. Health rules, environmental regulations, energy initiatives, worker-safety standards and product-safety disclosure policies have been modified in ways that often please business and industry leaders while dismaying interest groups representing consumers, workers, drivers, medical patients, the elderly and many others.

And most of it was done through regulation, not law - lowering the profile of the actions. The administration can write or revise regulations largely on its own, while Congress must pass laws. For that reason, most modern-day presidents have pursued much of their agendas through regulation. But administration officials acknowledge that Mr. Bush has been particularly aggressive in using this strategy."

While much of the anger and disappointment directed towards this administration revolves around the Iraq war, here at home the administration has been reworking the government, retooling it in ways that will warm the cockles of a modern conservatives heart: less regulation, stronger executive, less oversight, and restricting the role of the Supreme Court are just a few.

While the war in Iraq is extremely important and must be addressed, there are changes being made stateside that will have longer-lasting and more critical effects. There are constitutional issues being dealt with but there is little debate. Certainly most of these discussions get burdened down with detail, but they are of pre-eminent importance. International relations can be rebuilt, and troops can be recalled, but chaining the hands of the Supreme Court, or allowing the Executive to redefine just about every aspect of the government action as falling under its control and thus out of bounds for examination (the President can't have his hands tied in this modern time of war, although how health care is affected by the war on terror is unknown to me).

The foreign policy snafu that this administration has involved us in is naturally dominant in this election period, but the long-lasting impact of an imperial executive is one that has to be addressed if we wish to see this republic remain stable in the coming years.

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