But the decade-old Center for Progressive Reform has proposed a way around some of this. Its scholar-advocates are recommending that President Obama issue a series of executive orders on matters of regulatory importance that would otherwise have to wait for action at least another two years. Those recommendations focus on matters at the core of CPR's mission.
They are found in Protecting People and the Environment by the Stroke of a Presidential Pen: Seven New Executive Orders for President Obama’s Second Term. At the top of the list are orders that would attempt to mitigate climate change, something a hefty chunk of the Republicans in the House would never take action on, except in a retrograde manner, because they still don't think climate change is happening.
The title lines:
• Executive Order to Take Action on Climate Change Mitigation, which would direct the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from major industrial operations under the Clean Air Act.
• Executive Order to Prioritize and Coordinate Planning for Climate Change
Adaptation requiring federal agencies "to design their actions in ways that ease, rather than exacerbate, the challenges faced by communities and ecosystems. So, for example, agencies involved in setting policy for coastal development, including federal flood insurance, should develop new rules that discourage building in areas likely to be overcome by sea-level rise."
• Executive Order to Avoid Dangerous Imports by creating a Cabinet-level working group to address the cross-cutting problems posed by imported foods, drugs and consumer products.
• Executive Order to Protect the Health and Safety of Children and Future
Generations by establishing an interagency task force to build a roster of coordinated regulatory actions "to address high priority threats to the health and safety of children and future generations."
• Executive Order to Protect Contingent Workers would rework the enforcement operations of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to deal better with on-the-job safety and health challenges faced by contingent, "a growing subset of the labor force, and include, for example, construction and farming day laborers, warehouse laborers hired through staffing agencies, and hotel housekeepers supplied by temp firms."
• Executive Order to Reform OIRA's in the Regulatory System. The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs would be refocused on "working proactively with agencies to help them achieve their statutory missions of protecting public health, safety, and the environment." One key element would be rescinding requirements for cost-benefit analysis.
• Executive Order to Restore the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy’s Focus on Small Businesses, that is, those with 20 or fewer employees.
Executive orders have been a fact of life since the Constitution came into force and been common for the past 150 years. But when and if the president moved on these matters as CPR has proposed, the howling from the Right would no doubt flow profusely. Let them.
As CPR President Rena Steinzor says, Obama "can deliver real, tangible benefits that will improve the quality of all Americans’ lives" with these executive orders, circumventing in a perfectly legal way the greed-and-ignorance-based obstructionism imposed by the House majority and its scientific illiterates and corporate go-fers.