Sunset Bitch


Via Plastic comes this Rolling Stone scare-a-thon about "Bush's Most Radical Plan Yet," a dastardly gambit by which the prez would create a

"Sunset Commission," which would systematically review federal programs every ten years and decide whether they should be eliminated. Any programs that are not "producing results," in the eyes of the commission, would "automatically terminate unless the Congress took action to continue them."

Given that the article's author–Osha Gray Davidson–is apparently named after a federal agency (and a particularly useless one, I might add), I can understand the writer's disgruntlement. But for Christ's sake, how is this a bad idea? Government at all levels is littered with nosferatu agenicies, laws, and policies created to address some specific problem that long ago receded from electoral consciousness. And what's the threat anyway, since as Davidson points out, Congress can "take action to continue" the targeted agency?

Nobody loses here, with the exception of agencies that can't justify their existence anymore in the court of public and political opinion. Which sounds pretty fucking democratic in the best way possible. One objection, lobbed by living proof of the axiom that politics is show biz for ugly people, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), is even more risible:

"Under the administration's proposal, Congress would relinquish its constitutional power to legislate," says Rep. Henry Waxman…who has been the commission's most vocal opponent. "Power would be consolidated in the executive branch, and the legislative role would be emasculated."

Davidson notes that a bill that will supposedly be "introduced soon" would transfer the commish to Congress, thereby obviating that concern. But even if not, Congress would be in a position to revivify any dead agencies anyway, so the effect would be to create a pretty little turf battle between the two brances. Equally unconvincing is the implication that weakened federal regulation was somehow solely responsible for the Enron debacle (puh-leaze, Enron was heavily regulated and still managed to defraud its investors).

I'm no fan of the Bush administration–didn't vote for the guy and would vote against all of the Republican leadership given the chance. But Rolling Stone's vendetta against Bush and the GOP is as unseemly as its puffing out of Al Gore's crotch. The mag's party-line political coverage only makes the book that much lamer.

Whole article here.