Democrats & Liberals Archives

More Bush Power = More Transparency?

Not bloody likely!

In yet another attempt to grab lost power, our secretive Administration announced two weeks ago that it will expand the review power of the Office of Information & Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) to include all guidance documents released within all Federal Agencies. Incredibly OMB spokeswoman Andrea Wuebker claims that the change will increase “the quality … and transparency of agency guidance documents.

OK, this may not seem like a big deal, and it is not even close to the most outrageous thing this Administration has done, but it is illustrative of their consistent underlying desire to always control the message and make sure that decent public servants within the federal government cannot undermine Bush's political aims by doing their jobs responsibly. Now there is nothing wrong with OIRA taking the time to review the work going on within various agencies, and challenging documents they may feel are politically motivated or inaccurate. But the effect of this rule change is to create more hoops for agencies to go through before releasing guidance documents of any kind, making sure that each is first vetted by officials whose primary concern is political.

Already, the Bush Administration has taken huge advantage of Clinton's original executive order which prompted oversight review of all proposed regulations, to make sure that they were all "properly" vetted by the legions within Bush's executive branch who look after the interests of his pals in the boardroom. As OMB Watch noted last year, "the role of OIRA in rulemaking is often far more pervasive and substantive than the executive order circumscribes." We also already know that when science uncovers inconvenient facts, political appointees have free rein to reword scientific papers to suit political expediency. Now that WAS outrageous!

Don't you know Bush just hates it when such stories break? Well they figure maybe fewer inconvenient findings will ever make it to public eyes if every guidance document requires more paperwork and vetting before even being released. Transparency indeed! The intention here is just the opposite.

Posted by Walker Willingham at January 31, 2007 2:12 PM
Comment #206017


I think you should cut Bush a little slack, how else can a lame duck get anything done other than by executive order?

Honestly, this whole business of “executive orders” has grown more and more perilous since the internment of Japanese-Americans by FDR.

Truman’s Executive Order 9835 with the purpose of eliminating the “reds” from under our beds deserves a special place in the hall of shame also.

Still the Crème de la Crème prize goes to W. for Executive Order 13292 which “amends” a previous order by Billy Jeff with the exact opposite intent, for the most part creating a taller, wider and thicker wall between the public and the secretive ‘going’s on’ of the Executive branch.

The use of Presidential signing statements further muddies the waters. The long term implications of such a high level of secrecy are no greater exemplified than in the delayed release of info surrounding Cheney’s hunting accident.

I can’t help but wonder if W’s not a bit jealous of Chavez right now:

Venezuela’s Chavez gets powers to rule by decree

I believe Bush once (or more) said that it would be much easier to lead a dictatorship. Of course knowing George as I do he might have been talking about navigating a Dick Tater SHIP.

Posted by: KansasDem at January 31, 2007 5:32 PM
Comment #206018

It’s not likely to improve as long as so many incumbent politicians are FOR-SALE, and refuse campaign finance reform (among many other many badly needed reforms).

Also, it doesn’t help that voters keep rewarding politicians by repeatedly re-electing them.

Based on Transparency International, the U.S. has fallen from position 11 (year 2004), to 17 (year 2005), to 20 (year 2006); now below Chile.

  • Responsibility = Power + Conscience + Education + Transparency + Accountability
  • Corruption = Power - Conscience - Education - Transparency - Accountability
Posted by: d.a.n at January 31, 2007 5:38 PM
Comment #206070

Good article, Walker. It’s interesting that this came out the same week Stephen Colbert declared that reality is a commodity. As such, I guess Bush decided it had to be regulated.

Posted by: American Pundit at February 1, 2007 12:08 AM
Comment #206079

Walker, great piece. Bush seems to be cornering the market on double speak.

I wll miss Molly Ivins plain ole Texas quips about the idiocy and corruption of the Bushies.

Posted by: gergle at February 1, 2007 12:41 AM
Comment #206120

Yes, I also miss Molly Ivins and her writtings especially concerning the Occupant of the White House, you know “Shrub.”

Molly tried to warn us in 2004 election that George W. Bush is most dangerous by who he, or should I say Cheney and\or Rove, appoint to governing agencies. This Administration loves to say one thing and then do another.

Lame duck is another excuse for doing whatever they want to do, damn the torpidos—full speed ahead.

Posted by: C.T.Rich at February 1, 2007 11:55 AM
Comment #206147

Aren’t the Democrats in power? This is an obvious attempt by the Bush administration to circumvent Congress. The Constitution gives Congress the power of making laws, and the Executive Branch the power of enforcing laws. If Bush has his way (and apparently with this EO, he is), he wouldn’t enforce any law he doesn’t like. Democratic leadership shouldn’t stand for this. The House has scheduled a hearing in the Science committee, but the Senate needs to act now!

Posted by: Matt at February 1, 2007 2:29 PM
Comment #206246

Matt, this is all within the executive branch. To change these rules, Congress would have to pass a law and President Bush would have to sign it.

Posted by: American Pundit at February 1, 2007 11:23 PM
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