NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Clinton's Executive Orders Throw Lives Into Tumult

December 7, 2000

Political observers report that President Clinton is on a tear to sign every executive order he can get his hands on before he leaves office on January 20, 2001. At that point, he and his associates will have added an estimated 29,000 pages to the Federal Register.

Critics condemn this whirlwind of activity for the disruptions it causes in the lives of America's working men and women.

Here are just a few examples:

  • On Monday, President Clinton issued an executive order declaring 84 million acres of islands and water northwest of Hawaii a Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve, paying scant attention to the interests of the fishermen who make a living in the "reserve."
  • A similar regulation would curb mackerel, cod and pollack fishing in Alaska, causing the state's Democratic Governor Tony Knowles to say "the lives and livelihoods of Alaska coastal communities today hang in the balance."
  • Under another order, truckers will face a 95 percent reduction in the amount of sulfur in the diesel fuel they burn -- potentially prompting diesel prices to soar.
  • Yet another order will ban road-building on national forest land, with damaging results to the logging industry and thousands of its employees.

A new president won't be able to simply rescind or recast any regulations that become final. They can be changed only if he orders the rule-making process to start over again, in a series of time-consuming steps. And rescission requires a veto-proof majority in Congress.

Source: Editorial, "The Gridlock Myth," Wall Street Journal, December 7, 2000.

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