Government By Executive Order

A new Labor Department plan shows the president still has wide power to implement an anti-business agenda.

John Fund
The Wall Street Journal
12/3/2010

Because President Obama will now have a tough time getting his liberal agenda through a more Republican Congress, many Democrats are urging him to ram it through using the executive branch’s unilateral power.

John Podesta, head of the Center for American Progress, even issued a list of executive orders and rule-makings last month that Mr. Obama can use to “push the country to a better place.” If the Department of Labor is representative, his advice is in sync with moves already under way.

On Sept. 22, Labor’s Office of the Solicitor—which employs 400 attorneys to enforce the nation’s labor laws—issued a draft “operating plan” to dramatically increase pressure on employers. A source inside the department says the plan has been adopted.

Patricia Smith, who heads the solicitor’s office, told me in an interview yesterday that the plan is a “living document” that will “never be finalized.” [Emphasis CAJ] Whatever its status, it includes the following:

• “Identify a public affairs liaison in each Regional Office” to “send stronger, clearer messages to the regulated community about DOL’s emphasis on litigation.”

One tactic to be employed by the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) division will be to “deter [employers] through shaming.” Ms. Smith told me she didn’t know what that means. But whatever it might involve, it doesn’t sound appropriate for an agency charged with carrying out the law in an even-handed fashion.

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