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Jeremy Shapiro of the Brookings Institution notes in a recent paper ("Managing Homeland Security") that since 9/11, federal homeland-security spending has roughly tripled. He writes, "Policy discussions of homeland-security issues are driven not by rigorous analysis but by fear, perceptions of past mistakes, pork-barrel politics, and insistence on an invulnerability that cannot possibly be achieved." Regulation has been no exception. "They're trying to do pretty much everything everywhere," says Veronique de Rugy, a senior fellow with Mercatus.
Upsetting old structures and balances but not managing to replace them with sustainable new ones -- in effect, governing as if in a perpetual state of emergency -- has become a defining pattern of Bush's presidency: in foreign policy (notably Iraq and the Middle East), in fiscal policy (unsustainable spending increases and tax cuts), in legal affairs (executive overreach in the handling of detainees). To the list of the next president's headaches, add untangling and rationalizing the reels of red tape that the Bush years have unspooled.
© Copyright 2007 National Journal
Jonathan Rauch is a senior writer and columnist for National Journal and a frequent contributor to Reason. The article was originally published by National Journal.