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The Bush Legacy of Shame

Feb 25, 2009

I’ll be long gone before some smart person ever figures out what happened inside this Oval Office.
President George W. Bush1

A government and its laws and regulations are the arrangements a people make in order to live in peace and prosperity with one another. Those arrangements may benefit the few, as in third world countries and the United States over the past thirty years, or they may be so arranged as to assure the greatest good for the greatest number, as in most modern Western European democracies and the rest of the English-speaking world.

The Bush Legacy: An assault on public protections from OMB Watch documents the shocking extent to which the Bush administration dismantled government and endangered the American people, for the purpose of advancing a failed political ideology while empowering the corporatocracy that today still retains its stranglehold on U.S. policy and procedures.

According to the report, the administration:
  • Watered down or repealed many Clinton-era regulations.
  • Filled regulatory positions with anti-regulatory ideologues taken from the industries they were charged with regulating.
  • Suppressed science and their own scientists when either interfered with right-wing ideology or threatened to increase safety regulations.
  • Issued a raft of “midnight regulations” in the closing weeks of their administration, most of them de-regulatory in nature. Though other administrations have issued such last-minute regs, few or none have issued such extensive numbers of them or have done so in such a cynical manner.
  • Fundamentally changed the method by which rules and regulations are generated by rule-making agencies, to the detriment of transparency and in the service of ideology over the regulatory responsibilities of the agencies.
  • Enabled a level of intimate association between the executive branch and special interests that a former Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security described as “almost incestuous.”
  • Under the pretense of national security, increased the level of secrecy in government to an extent never approached in the past, by weakening the Freedom of Information Act and deleting thousands of pages of information from the Internet.
  • Delayed regulatory action to the detriment of consumer and worker safety and endangered species, and, ultimately, caused the collapse of the global financial system.
  • Set up program assessment procedures which overrode congressional intent, advanced ideological ends, and penalized programs for following legal requirements.
  • Incapacitated government by slashing taxes, raising the deficit to historic levels, and exempting traditional avenues for the public to seek justice in cases of corporate malfeasance.
  • Disabled proper bidding and oversight of contractor services while vastly expanding the privatization of those services.
  • Left senior positions in many agencies vacant, or appointed unconfirmed interim personnel, effectively suspending agency operations.
  • Made so many appointments while the Senate was in recess, in an end run around the confirmation process, that the Senate was forced to remain in pro forma session to counter the procedure.
You will find it hard to believe much of this report (e.g., that the FDA continued to use a study it knew to be fraudulent in defending the release of a dangerous drug). It is all well documented and referenced, however.

The road back from a dangerously fascistic past eight years will be a long one. Tomorrow, we will propose one vehicle—call it a bandwagon—you may wish to climb aboard in order to begin that perilous and uncertain journey.
1 See the report referenced in the text above. All the quotations and contentions are scrupulously reference in footnotes.
tags: Governance

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