Sigh, yet another article about how George W. Bush is the devil.
Long story short, in the latest Bush budget, there is a single paragraph which allows the president to appoint an 8-member “Sunset Commission”. The commission would review all government programs every ten years, and the ones that they didn’t like (that are “not producing results”) would be eliminated unless Congress stepped up and did something to save them.
Near as I can figure, the panel has no oversight, and the president can appoint anyone to it he wants. In other words, this is a de facto way that the president can delete any government programs he wants. He can just appoint a panel that will hate the same programs he does, and they’re gone. Unless the opposition party in Congress has the will and the clout to stop it.
The article’s author points out that the villain behind this plan is Clay Johnson, who worked with Bush when he was governor of Texas. Johnson is a slut for corporate interests, attempting to slash regulations and constraints on big business whenever possible. For example, “One of his first acts in Texas was to remove all three members of the state environmental-protection commission and replace them with a former Monsanto executive, an official with the Texas Beef Council and a lawyer for the oil industry”. The article goes on to explain how Johnson instituted something like the Sunset Commission in Texas, and used it to cut funding for effective social programs and increase funding to ineffective partisan programs (e.g. a program that tried to “reduce the number of poor people claiming a low-income tax credit.”).
Apparently this Commission idea is potentially unconstitutional, violating the Separation of Powers clause. But they already have a back-up plan: give Congress the power to create the commission. While that’s slightly more Constitutional and democratic, with the Republicans in firm control of the legislature, the results would likely be the same.
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