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halloween 2003 roundup (coming soon)
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  xWednesday, September 04, 2002

homeland security showdown


I don't pretend to have the answers on homeland security, but (y'all heard it here first) I don't think the proposed massive new bureaucracy is the answer.

Among the big sticking points is the President's insistence on broad powers to spend money without Congressional oversight and his insistence--under threat of his very first veto--that workers in the department lost civil service and union protections they currently enjoy. The President's backers say he needs "flexibility." Let's look at this Tuesday WaPo column by Sen. Joseph Lieberman, one of the Senate bill's authors:
Under our legislation, the president and the secretary of homeland security would, in fact, have more flexibility to run an efficient, effective and performance-driven department than the law now provides. Our legislation includes bipartisan reforms to the civil service law that give the secretary new management tools to attract, retain and reward excellence. With the powers in existing law and new ones added in our bill, the administration would be able to promptly hire new talent, swiftly move employees around, discipline and fire poor performers and even remove employees from collective bargaining units when national security is at stake. In that last case, we have simply required the administration to state clear reasons for taking such extraordinary action, and made sure there is due process to have the loss of those rights reviewed by the Federal Labor Relations Authority. (emphasis mine)

Gee, due process and checks and balances...no wonder Bush is against it.
If granted, the president's pleas for additional "flexibility" would give his administration unprecedented power to undercut the civil service system, rewrite laws by fiat and spend taxpayers' money without congressional checks and balances.


One key indicator of the kind of "flexibility" Bush wants is his opposition to making the Director of Homeland Security subject to the advice and consent of the Senate; he's indicated that that provision of the Senate bill might constitute a veto risk all by itself.

It seems clear to me that the powers Bush seeks are a naked power grab in accordance with an aversion to the democratic process that's becoming increasingly evident as his administration continues.

After all, his "expertise" is in business, and business isn't a democracy.