Thursday, October 26, 2006

Business As Usual

It's getting to be a ritual: Congress leaves town on one of its many recesses and the President makes one of his many recess appointment. This time it was Richard Stickler for the Mine Safety & Health Agency. From today's NY Times:

Despite being twice rebuffed by the Senate, President Bush has named Richard Stickler, a stolid mining industry careerist, to run the mine safety agency whose serial ineptitude has been laid bare this year by the deaths of 42 mineworkers. Waiting until the Senate left town for the elections, Mr. Bush resorted to a recess appointment to place Mr. Stickler at the heart of enforcing new safety reforms that, in earlier hearings, the appointee himself had claimed were not at all that necessary.

To the contrary, these reforms became a crying need brought home to the nation from the depths of the Sago mine disaster in West Virginia, where 12 workers died in January. Sago presented a clinic in failed government oversight. The new law would double a miner’s emergency oxygen to two hours; mandate electronic devices to track trapped miners; and repair the damage originally done by the administration in cutting more than 200 mine safety inspectors in the name of budget economy.

Mr. Stickler points to his six years as Pennsylvania mine safety chief to rebut criticism that he is the latest example in the administration’s dangerous history of packing safety agencies with pro- industry regulators. But the bulk of his career was in corporate management of mines. Miners and lawmakers have cited the federal agency’s own data in warning that injury rates at his mines were higher than the national average. The administration’s pro-industry tack is a running scandal exemplified by Steven Griles, a mining lobbyist who was appointed deputy secretary of the interior. Mr. Griles devoted four years to rolling back mine regulations and then returned to lobbying for an industry long known for its patronage clout with politicians.
[Emphasis added]

While the President's act was not too surprising, the arrogance it displayed right before an election was. American's may have a notoriously short attention span, but the deaths of more than forty miners this year, many of which might have been prevented had particular safety regulations been in place and enforced, hasn't been erased from the public consciousness, especially in those states involved in the mining industry. Apparently his loyalty to large campaign contributors is stronger than his loyalty to those Republican members of Congress running for re-election. We've long known that loyalty was stronger than that for the health and well-being of average Americans. In any event, he's just added another weapon to the Democrats' campaign arsenal.

Heckuva job, George.


Blogger jelloca said...

in general, people don't care enough to pay attention. note how well john edwards did in farming states despite having signed onto legislation that hurt small farmers. people think they can guage enough about a person by the type of song & dance stage show they put on.

10:13 AM  

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