The War on Government

Rolling Stone magazine (home of Southern Exposure's former editor and ace investigative reporter, Eric Bates) has a story up about the administration's latest move in its war against government.

Tucked in the spending proposal Bush submitted to Congress is a proposal to create a hand-picked "Sunset Commission," which would be granted power to "review federal programs every ten years and decide whether they should be eliminated."

Rolling Stone's Osha Gary Davidson's spells out the risks:

[T]he commission would enable the Bush administration to achieve what Ronald Reagan only dreamed of: the end of government regulation as we know it. With a simple vote of five commissioners -- many of them likely to be lobbyists and executives from major corporations currently subject to federal oversight -- the president could terminate any program or agency he dislikes. No more Environmental Protection Agency. No more Food and Drug Administration. No more Securities and Exchange Commission.

Whether or not any of these grim possibilities comes to pass, it's shocking that a proposal empowering five president-appointed bureaucrats to eliminate government programs is being seriously considered.

The architect behind the proposal is Clay "Big Man" Johnson, Bush's other right-hand man from Texas. Under then-Governor George Bush, Johnson was put in charge of government appointments in the Lone Star state, where he quickly revealed his preferences in choosing between corporate influence and the public interest:

One of [Johnson's] 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. Overnight, a commission widely respected for its impartiality became a "revolving door between the industry lobby and government," says Jim Marston, the senior attorney in Texas for the nonprofit organization Environmental Defense.