Business Oinking at the Trough

It appears that business lobbyists are giving new depth to the image of “pigs at the trough:”

Business lobbyists, nervously anticipating Democratic gains in next year’s elections, are racing to secure final approval for a wide range of health, safety, labor and economic rules, in the belief that they can get better deals from the Bush administration than from its successor.

Here’s a sampler of business-friendly items on their Christmas list:

  • Poultry farmers are seeking an exemption for the smelly fumes produced by tons of chicken manure.
  • Businesses are lobbying the Bush administration to roll back rules that let employees take time off for family needs and medical problems.
  • Electric power companies are pushing the government to relax pollution-control requirements.
  • Trucking companies are trying to get final approval for a rule increasing the maximum number of hours commercial truck drivers can work.
  • Automakers are trying to persuade officials to set new standards for the strength of car roofs — standards far less stringent than what consumer advocates say is needed to protect riders in a rollover.
  • Coal companies are lobbying for a regulation that would allow them to dump rock and dirt from mountaintop mining operations into nearby streams and valleys.
  • The U.S. Poultry and Egg Association have petitioned for an exemption from laws and rules that require them to report emissions of ammonia exceeding 100 pounds a day.

Well, of course they’ll try these things, you might say. And of course the Bushies will go along. We can live with a little less than a year of this garbage. Won’t the next president just sweep them away, as W. did with Clinton’s regs? Not so fast —

Whoever becomes the next president, Democrat or Republican, will find that it is not so easy to make immediate and sweeping changes. The Supreme Court has held that a new president cannot arbitrarily revoke final regulations that already have the force of law. To undo such rules, a new administration must provide a compelling justification and go through a formal rule-making process, which can take months or years.

How ’bout them justices? This is so typical of a dirty-the-nest tactic that has shielded W. and hamstrung everyone else. Back in the day, Ken Starr dirtied the Special Prosecutor role so badly that the SP is done away with. Henry Hyde et. al. so dirtied the impeachment tool that for W., “impeachment is off the table.” And now this. But don’t count on the Dems to don their armor, grab their lances, and mount their horses anytime soon.

Even as they try to shape pending regulations, business lobbies are also looking beyond President Bush. Corporations and trade associations are recruiting Democratic lobbyists. And lobbyists, expecting battles over taxes and health care in 2009, are pouring money into the campaigns of Democratic candidates for Congress and the White House…

Loren B. Thompson, a military analyst at the Lexington Institute, a policy research organization, said: “Defense contractors have not only begun to prepare for the next administration. They have begun to shape it. They’ve met with Hillary Clinton and other candidates.”

It’s going to be citizens who fight this. Or nobody. Politicians will follow citizens’ lead if anything’s going to happen. But it’s going to take a LOT OF NOISE!

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