The Bush Administration's First Year: A Report Card

The Bush Administration's First Year: A Report Card

January 17, 2002

Washington, DC, January 18, 2002 – In his first year in office, how well has President Bush and his administration protected free markets and worked for limited government?  The Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free market public policy group, compares the Administration’s performance across several key policy areas:

Overall Performance – The Administration has managed to put affordable energy above environmental scare campaigns, confront Europe over climate and trade issues, and appoint reform-minded people to agencies most in need of reexamining their regulatory powers.  Missteps and compromises on a number of issues, unfortunately, marred an otherwise solid agenda. B Communication Strategy – When taking principled stands on sensitive issues such as climate change, pollution, and energy exploration, the Administration has failed to explain effectively the benefits of its policies and the hidden costs of opposing programs. C-

Climate Change – The Administration earned points for the President’s decision to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol and not to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant.  Soft support for a “voluntary” carbon dioxide exchange among some inside the White House, however, provides reason for caution. A- Energy – Support for domestic energy exploration including in ANWR and coastal areas bolstered the President’s score, but continued support for subsidies to inefficient “alternative” energy producers is still a problem. B+ Environment – Allowing too many eleventh-hour Clinton-era regulations and federal land-use decisions – such as those pertaining to arsenic in drinking water – to go forward has been the Administration’s weakest point here.  Partial credit granted for removing  “right to know” information about sensitive chemical and industrial facilities from the government websites. C- Health & Safety – With the appointment of John Graham as regulatory watchdog at the Office of Management and Budget and Daniel Troy as Chief Counsel at the Food and Drug Administration, the President has made sure new federal regulations will receive a proper risk analysis – an analysis which begins with the assumption that even regulations designed to reduce risks in a particular area can often end up having negative net consequences for public health and safety. B Technology – A high grade because of benign neglect, a few small moves like loosening technology export restrictions, and ducking pressure to enact hasty privacy legislation.  Points are lost for not acting more aggressively to deregulate telecommunications, and for parts of the anti-terrorism law that push beyond what is needed and create long-term concerns about civil liberties. B+

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