Opinion: With new exec orders, Obama plans U-turns on Bush policies


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As soon as Barack Obama takes the oath of office on Jan. 20, he’s going to begin issuing executive orders to show that the ‘change we need’ (to quote a campaign slogan) has arrived.

So says John Podesta, head of the Obama transition team, during an appearance on ‘Fox News Sunday.’


“There’s a lot that the president can do using his executive authority without waiting for congressional action, and I think we’ll see the president do that,” Podesta said. “I think that he feels like he has a real mandate for change. We need to get off the course that the Bush administration has set.”

Among Bush administration actions likely to be quickly rescinded:

  • The prohibition on federal funding for international family-planning agencies that provide abortions -- or counseling and information about abortion -- even in countries where the procedure is legal. This policy, known as the Mexico City initiative, was initially put in place by Ronald Reaganand reaffirmed by the current president’s father. Bill Clinton removed it in 1993; President Bush restored it two days after taking office in 2001.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency’s decision last December against granting California’s request to impose more stringent greenhouse-gas emission standards than federal law requires. At least 16 other states were prepared to adopt California’s rules if the EPA had approved the state’s request to waive federal standards in exchange for its own tougher ones. The EPA ruling was seen as a victory for the automobile industry.
  • The ban on federal funding for research on new lines of embryonic stem cells. In August 2001, Bush limited government funding to the embryonic stem cell lines then in existence and prohibited any funding for development of new embryonic stem cell lines. Proponents of such research -- including many Democrats and moderate Republicans -- have pointed to the potential for cures for such devastating illnesses as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, but many social and religious conservatives liken the use of such stem cells to abortion because it requires the destruction of an embryo.

There’s more detail on this (and more) from our Tribune colleague Mark Silva over at The Swamp.

-- Leslie Hoffecker

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