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Monday, November 17, 2008

midnight regulations

Most recent presidents passed a bunch of midnight regulations on their way out. It looks like GWB has once again found a way to make himself stand out, even at this late stage in the game.
Why do Presidents wait till the last moment to push through changes they’ve had the power to impose all along? Legal scholars have advanced a variety of explanations; these range from megalomania (each Administration tries to extend its influence into the next) to simple distraction (federal agencies, like ninth graders, have a hard time focussing until they’re up against a deadline). Under the best of circumstances, experts point out, rule-making is a laborious process; many of the regulations published toward the end of the Clinton Administration—such as a rule limiting the amount of arsenic allowed in public drinking water—had been the subject of years’ worth of hearings and scientific review.

But none of these explanations is adequate to the current situation. What distinguishes this Administration in its final days—as in its earlier ones—is the purity of its cynicism. White House officials haven’t even bothered to argue that these new rules are in the public interest. Such a claim would, in any event, be impossible to defend, as just about every midnight regulation being proposed is, evidently, a gift to a favored industry.

Midnight Hour: Comment -Elizabeth Kolbert (
Like a zillion other things that would have been big news in a more competent administration, these will be a few more that fly under the radar because of the more prominent crises we face.

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