In the run-up to the 2012 election, the Obama administration delayed rules until after the election:
Some agency officials were instructed to hold off submitting proposals to the White House for up to a year to ensure that they would not be issued before voters went to the polls, the current and former officials said.
The delays meant that rules were postponed or never issued. The stalled regulations included crucial elements of the Affordable Care Act, what bodies of water deserved federal protection, pollution controls for industrial boilers and limits on dangerous silica exposure in the workplace.
The Obama administration has repeatedly said that any delays until after the election were coincidental and that such decisions were made without regard to politics. But seven current and former administration officials told The Washington Post that the motives behind many of the delays were clearly political, as Obama’s top aides focused on avoiding controversy before his reelection.
On the one hand, it’s kind of a problematic game of “hide the ball” if you’re obscuring what you want to do if your people are re-elected. What I found particularly interesting, though, was that the submission of plans was also pushed back. So in this case, it wasn’t even “We’ll do it after the election” but rather a desire not to be confronted with it. Not to have to decide. Or perhaps, not to have the administration tarred with it if it isn’t actually going to pass.
Ronald Reagan is often associated with the ketchup-as-a-vegetable incident. Which was actually simply a proposal of the sort that the administration was uninterested in hearing about. Whether you like Obama or not, it seems hard to deny the Republicans have often latched ferociously to virtually any sort of criticism as demonstrative of socialistic or coastal-overlord inclintations. Ketchup-as-vegetable stuck to Reagan because it fit his critics’ narrative.
That doesn’t negate the problem here, of course. Especially given the frequency with which Obama has been utilizing the executive to its greatest capability. Which is not to say that either report-punting or executive-expansion is new. But Obama has been, or plans to be, my most accounts more aggressive than Bush. It seems likely that Obama’s predecessor will be more aggressive than him. And then, hiding intentions becomes considerably more impotant. To them, obviously, if not to us.
WaPo White House delayed enacting rules ahead of 2012 election to avoid…
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