Last year in a speech at Heritage, President Bush proudly proclaimed: “I’m looking forward to working with you for the next 14 months, but you better put on your running shoes because my spirits are high, my energy level is good and I’m sprinting to the finish line.”
Judging from his administration’s recent actions, Bush is crawling, and certainly not sprinting. My calendar shows there are 39 days before Barack Obama is inaugurated president. You’d think Obama was taking office tomorrow judging from the Bush’s recent actions.
Bush’s capitulation to Democrats on the automaker bailout was disappointing but not unexpected for a president who long ago abandoned many conservative principles. What’s more troubling is that even within the executive branch, officials are giving up early.
This week the Environmental Protection Agency abruptly announced it would abandon a three-year effort to revise two air-pollution regulations. One of the measures would have made it easier to build a coal-fired power plant near a national park while the other dealt with the installation of antipollution devices. Needless to say, they were strongly opposed by the environmental left.
Why give up on a process three years in the making? The EPA fears the regulations would conflict with the Bush administration’s prohibition against “midnight regulations” and would be repealed by Obama. While I don’t support last-minute actions, there’s no excuse for the failure of EPA to get these done on time.
Rather than make excuses, Bush officials should make the case that they want good policy, explain how Americans will benefit from these changes, and say why they should NOT be changed in the Obama administration. If there are any conservatives left in this administration, they need to be laying out the terms of debate for the battle instead of walking away from the fight.