Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Nobody here but us chickens . . .

And I'd like to introduce everyone to our new security guard, Ms. Fox.

Okay, how many of you have heard of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs? Raise your right wing, please. That's what I thought. Cluck, cluck.

OIRA is an agency of the Office of Management and Budget, part of the Executive Office of the President, which among its other duties reviews proposed federal regulations to assure that they are compliant with federal policies. The operative executive order was issued by Bill Clinton, but the principles it contains are subject to err, interpretation. For example, point 6, "Each agency shall assess both the costs and the benefits of the intended regulation and, recognizing that some costs and benefits are difficult to quantify, propose or adopt a regulation only upon a reasoned determination that the benefits of the intended regulation justify its costs," and point 11, "Each agency shall tailor its regulations to impose the least burden on society, including individuals, businesses of differing sizes, and other entities (including small communities and governmental entities), consistent with obtaining the regulatory objectives, taking into account, among other things, and to the extent practicable, the costs of cumulative regulations."

So who do you think the Emperor of Mespotamia wants to appoint to head this office? Public Citizen (blogger ethics alert: I worked for them briefly in my misspent youth) wants you to know:

The nomination of Susan Dudley as administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) represents another attack by the Bush administration on the government’s ability to hold industry accountable and keep Americans safe, according to a report released today by Public Citizen and OMB Watch. .. .

As director of regulatory studies at the industry-funded Mercatus Center, Dudley has sought to strike down countless environmental, health and safety rules. She has opposed such safeguards as the EPA’s attempts to keep arsenic out of drinking water and lower levels of disease-causing smog. She has questioned NHTSA’s life-saving air bag regulations and the Department of Transportation’s hours-of-service rules to keep sleep-deprived truck drivers off the roads. She has championed energy deregulation, which has led to skyrocketing prices and little consumer relief during record-setting heat waves. .. .

“With Susan Dudley’s nomination, President Bush is proposing to install one of the nation’s leading anti-regulatory zealots as the gatekeeper for all regulatory safeguards,” said Peg Seminario, director of health and safety for the AFL-CIO. “Not only has Dudley opposed virtually all new worker safety and health protections, she has also strongly advocated rolling back legal rights and protections that workers have already gained.”

“Throughout this administration, OIRA has weakened already troubled agencies,” said Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook.* “If Dudley is confirmed by the Senate, she will further strip them of their ability to stand up to government secrecy, politicization and corporate interests. On behalf of the public, we are urging the Senate to reject her nomination.”

So what do you think? Will the Senate reject her nomination? Why don't we ask Joe Lieberman what he plans to do about this.

*BTW, I have it on good authority that the rumors about Joan and Ralph are false. So there.

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