Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Obama plans review of Bush executive orders


Obama plans review of Bush executive orders

Associated Press
Article Launched: 11/09/2008 06:27:48 PM PST

WASHINGTON — President-elect Barack Obama plans an "across-the board" review of President George W. Bush's executive orders, with an eye toward making his own quick imprint on important matters, and will swiftly put in place a "diverse," bipartisan team of Cabinet members and aides, key advisers said Sunday.

"There's a lot that the president can do using his executive authority, without waiting for congressional action," said John Podesta, who is coordinating Obama's transition planning. "And I think we'll see the president do that to try to restore ... a sense that the country is working on behalf of the common good."

Obama's review of his predecessor's executive orders will range from a ban that Bush placed on federal funding for research using new lines of embryonic stem cells to an expected easing of oil and gas drilling limits in sensitive Western lands that the Bush administration could seek in its final months.

"I think across the board, on stem cell research, on a number of areas, you see the Bush administration even today moving aggressively to do things that I think are probably not in the interest of the country," Podesta said on FoxNews Sunday.

"We're looking ... in virtually every agency to see where we can move forward," said Podesta, the director of a Washington-based think tank who served as a chief of staff for former President Bill Clinton.

Obama also will move quickly, according to both Podesta and the president-elect's chief of staff, Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., in the formation of a new leadership team. While Obama will make announcements quickly, Podesta noted, with the exception of former President George H.W. Bush, no incoming president has named a Cabinet member before December.

The Democratic junior senator from Illinois, who will be sworn in as president on Jan. 20, also plans to reach across party lines, Emanuel says.

"We have to govern in a bipartisan fashion," said Emanuel, who, as chairman of the House Democratic caucus, is known for a rough-and-tumble, partisan style. "The challenges are big enough that there's going to be an ability for people of both parties, as well as independents, to contribute ideas to help meet the challenges on health care, energy, tax reform, education.

"So that is the tone," Emanuel said on ABC News' "This Week with George Stephanopoulos." "That is the policy. And that is exactly how we're going to go forward."

Emanuel, however, was more elusive on two questions: Whether Obama might delay his plans for tax increases on the wealthiest Americans because of the economic crisis the nation faces, and whether he might support an added federal bailout for the nation's automakers, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid are proposing.

Obama will pursue a $1,000 tax cut for the middle class, his chief of staff said on both ABC's "This Week" and CBS News' "Face the Nation." But he refused to be pinned down on tax increases.

"There is no doubt that a larger economic recovery act ... must do two things," Emanuel said on ABC. "One, get people working rebuilding our roads, our bridges, our schools, our basic infrastructure that allows the economy to be very productive. Second, there should be a tax rebate to the middle class."

Yet Obama's advisers made it clear that the president-elect does not plan to intervene in attempts by a lame-duck Congress to approve an economic stimulus package before Bush leaves office.

"We have one president at a time," said Podesta, echoing Obama's words from a news conference on Friday. "The job is up to President Bush to move that legislation forward and try to keep economic recovery moving today."

The package includes an extension of unemployment benefits, at a time when joblessness has risen to 6.5 percent, its highest level since 1994.

Obama "hopes that will happen during this lame duck session ... that President Bush will cooperate," Podesta said. "If it doesn't, it would be (Obama's) first item of business."

Emanuel also indicated that Obama will not play a leading role in the lame-duck Congress' final debates, but rather will focus on building his team.

"He's going to be here in Chicago setting up his economic team," he said. "He is going to, as he did on Friday, encourage Washington to move ... And he will also, because he doesn't waste a single day, get his team in place."

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