What’s with This Whole Thing about ‘Political Appointees?’

U.S. Rushes to Change Workplace Toxin Rules

By Carol D. Leonnig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 23, 2008; A01
Political appointees at the Department of Labor are moving with unusual speed to push through in the final months of the Bush administration a rule making it tougher to regulate workers’ on-the-job exposure to chemicals and toxins.
The agency did not disclose the proposal, as required, in public notices of regulatory plans that it filed in December and May. Instead, Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao’s intention to push for the rule first surfaced on July 7, when the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) posted on its Web site that it was reviewing the proposal, identified only by its nine-word title.
. . . The department’s speed in trying to make the regulatory change contrasts with its reluctance to alter workplace safety rules over the past 7 1/2 years.
In that time, the department adopted only one major health rule for a chemical in the workplace, and it did so under a court order.
. . . David Michaels, an epidemiologist and workplace safety professor at George Washington University’s School of Public Health, said the rule would add another barrier to creating safety standards, in the name of improving them.
“This is a guarantee to keep any more worker safety regulation from ever coming out of OSHA,” Michaels said. “This is being done in secrecy, to be sprung before President Bush leaves office, to cripple the next administration.”
Government is being changed by subterfuge instead of run by the bureaus that are established by Congress. “Federal jobs available to political appointees rose 15 percent to 4,496 last year from 2000, according to the 2004 edition of the “Plum Book,” which is published by Congress after each presidential election to list positions up for grabs.”
Four and a half thousand troops sent into the bureaucracy by the Commander in Chief, in a surge against governance by congressional oversight.

(Bloomberg) From the Food and Drug Administration to the Energy Department, positions for career officials at top levels have been eliminated. The FDA’s top lawyer until the Bush administration had been a career official. In 2001, that job went to an appointee, who wasn’t subject to Senate confirmation. Daniel Troy, who got the job, once represented drug and tobacco companies. He left the FDA in 2004 and is now a partner at a Washington law firm.

Unwilling to even ask for legal recourse, this administration has enacted a wholesale under-the-table reorganization of your and my government–by manipulation and deception.
Not to put too fine a point on it, Bloomberg goes on to say “Under Clinton, the senior policy adviser for science and technology at the Energy Department was a career official who reported directly to the secretary. Under Bush, the 2004 Plum Book shows the secretary’s office entirely made up of political appointees.
Unfamiliar with something so aptly named as “The Plum Book?” It lists over 7,000 Federal civil service leadership and support positions in the legislative and executive branches of the Federal Government that may be subject to noncompetitive appointment, nationwide. Appointing Civil Service leadership positions?

(Wikipedia) The Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act (ch. 27, 22 Stat. 403) is an 1883 United States federal law that established the United States Civil Service Commission, which placed most federal employees on the merit system and marked the end of the so-called “spoils system.” The act provided for some government jobs to be filled on the basis of competitive exams.

Josh Bolten (the president’s Chief of Staff) sensibly decreed that no changes would be made in appointments after June 1st–to avoid the appearance of stacking decks against the incoming president. So much for that excellent idea, which no doubt failed to muster under the direction of Cheney’s attack-dog, David Addington. Addington will not quit until he is dragged, kicking and screaming, from Cheney’s office.
The next incoming president would do the nation a service (as well as restore a semblance of integrity and pride in government service) by going after the low-hanging “spoiled” fruit and eliminating plums.

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