Who Rules the Rulemakers?

WHO RULES THE RULEMAKERS?….The most blogged story of the day (from liberals, anyway) is surely Robert Pear’s report about President Bush’s latest initiative to remove rulemaking from the realm of technical experts and place it increasingly under political control:

In an executive order published last week in the Federal Register, Mr. Bush said that each agency must have a regulatory policy office run by a political appointee, to supervise the development of rules and documents providing guidance to regulated industries. 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.

….Business groups hailed the initiative.

This move has prompted the usual withering scorn, most of it undoubtedly well deserved. But let’s not stop at scorn, people. After all, Bill Clinton was no slouch at consolidating White House control of cabinet agencies himself. Bush has taken this to stratospheric heights — mainly in a backdoor attempt to gut laws that are too popular to get repealed in a straight-up fight — but it’s hardly an exclusively Republican preserve. What’s more, there’s a pretty reasonable argument that an elected president should have greater policy control over the rulemakers in our farflung executive bureaucracy.

So let’s find out. Are we really opposed to this? This is an executive order, after all, and that means the next president can rescind it at will. So let’s get all the Democratic presidential candidates on the record: if you’re elected, will you rescind this order? Who’s up for this?

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