February 3, 2009

"MORE OF THE SAME":

Liberals Gripe About Cabinet Picks (Shawn Zeller, 1/31/09, CQ)

“Under the last two administrations,” [Ryan Zinn, the Organic Consumers Association's national campaign director] says, “we’ve seen a nonpartisan push for biotech and industrial agriculture while organic and sustainable food has been ignored. We fear Vilsack means more of the same.”

Privacy advocates, meanwhile, are fretting about Eric H. Holder Jr. becoming attorney general — which is on course to happen this week — after he promised in January to seek reauthorization of an anti-terrorism law permitting law enforcement agencies to examine the reading habits of library and bookstore patrons caught up in terrorism investigations.

And government procurement watchdogs have protested Obama’s choice of Dennis Blair as director of national intelligence, because they say he violated government ethics protocols while serving as head of a federally funded defense research institute.

Most recently, environmentalists criticized the appointment of Harvard Law School professor Cass R. Sunstein as head of the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), citing Sunstein’s academic writings that question clean-air rules.

“Progressives would’ve screamed” had George W. Bush appointed a regulatory czar as pro-industry as Sunstein, says Frank O’Donnell, president of the environmental advocacy group Clean Air Watch. Sunstein wrote a paper calling for cost-benefit analyses of environmental regulations — the same view, O’Donnell says, as the Bush administration’s OIRA director, John Graham.

The advocates say they’re under no illusions about their ability to slow down the Obama nominations, but they say they must go on the record with their objections to warn the appointees that they will not get a free ride.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 3, 2009 8:24 AM
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