Sunday, February 18, 2007

Another Brick in the Hackocracy

dog&pony4From the administration that brought you the Sago Mine disaster, new and improved tuberculosis, and Vioxx, we can look forward to yet another fox in the henhouse:
Insiders say that Michael Baroody, chief lobbyist for the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), a powerful trade group that opposes aggressive product safety regulation, is President Bush's choice to head the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

The CPSC is currently powerless to enact new rules or levy fines because it has had only two commissioners since Chairman Hal Stratton, another Bush appointee, abruptly resigned six months ago to become a lobbyist.
Nice work. And so perfectly in keeping with the Bush policy of undermining the very functions of government agencies by assigning them leaders who are either antagonistic to them, utterly incompetent, or both. And, too, how like Bush to weasel his appointment in through the back door so elected representatives of the people won't have a chance to deny him:
Bush is expected to make his appointment during the long President's Day weekend, while Congress is out of town...

But David Baker, a lawyer who represents companies before the CPSC, said he has heard from a number of "private Republican lobbyists" that the appointment "is likely to be a recess appointment."

Under a recess appointment the nominee can take his or her place at the commission for one year without Congressional approval.
The agency has been unable to act because it hasn't had enough members to vote, and this isn't the first time:
This is the third time Bush has left the CPSC without a quorum. In the CPSC's 35-year history, the only other time the commission has gone so long without a quorum was during the adminstration of Bush's father, George H.W. Bush.
Hmmm. Big surprise. Unfortunately, it appears to have come as a genuine surprise to the very people who should have been aware of it all along: those in the Senate and House with oversight responsibilities:
"The lack of quorum? I'm sorry, I don't know," Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), who sits on the subcommittee with CPSC jurisdiction, said. "There hasn't been an appointment? That's unfortunate. How long has that appointment been delayed?"

Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) said he is planning to discuss the topic with some of his staff members but said, "I have not followed that issue very clearly."

Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.) did not return three phone calls from ConsumerAffairs.Com while Rep. Sue Myrick (R-N.C.) would not step off the House floor to be interviewed. Both also serve on committees with oversight responsibility.
Welcome to the hackocracy. Hope you survive it.

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