Saturday, April 19, 2008

Bush the fiscal hawk?!

Interesting little bit buried at the end of this Weekly Standard piece by Fred Barnes, which argues that President Bush is far from a lame duck:

At one time or another, every president figures out that executive orders are underrated as a tool of White House power. Certainly Bush has. (The media have yet to realize this.) Of course it's true that presidential orders can be revoked by subsequent presidents. But they usually aren't.

Earlier this year, Bush's budget office sent a letter to every federal department barring them from implementing any congressional earmarks not authorized in specific statutory language. These must get explicit White House approval.

The order covered the majority of the thousands of pork-barrel earmarks passed by Congress. Its aim is to stall the implementation of many earmarks, perhaps forever, and to kill many others. Will the next president lift this order, thus prompting more earmarks? Not likely.

Given that fiscal restraint is going to be a major part, if not the core, of John McCain's pitch on the economy this fall--and that McCain himself has long been conspicuously hostile to earmarks--it'll be interesting to see how much attention this gets...and from whom.

Any progress that President Bush makes on this front now is progress that a President McCain wouldn't be able to make in 2009--and hence, one less reason to vote for the GOP nominee. This has the potential to cut McCain off at the knees.


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