President-elect Barack Obama is poised to use executive authority to move swiftly to reverse some actions taken by President Bush, with Obama's transition team reviewing limits on stem cell research and the expansion of oil and gas drilling, among other issues, members of the team said Sunday.
While Obama prepared to make his first post-election visit to the White House today, his advisers were compiling a list of policies that could be reversed by the executive powers of the new president.
The assessment is under way, aides said, but a full list of policies to be overturned will not be announced by Obama until he confers with new members of his cabinet.
“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,” John Podesta, a top transition leader, said Sunday. “He feels like he has a real mandate for change. We need to get off the course that the Bush administration has set.”
Throughout his presidency, Bush has made liberal use of his executive authority, using it to put his stamp on a range of hot-button policy issues.
In January 2001, on his first full day in office, Bush reinstated the so-called global gag rule, initiated during the Reagan administration and overturned by President Clinton, which prohibited taxpayer dollars from being given to international family planning groups that perform abortions and provide abortion counseling. After Obama's victory, the Center for Reproductive Rights delivered a memo calling for a repeal of the gag rule.
On Sunday, the faces of Obama's new team appeared on talk shows.
Obama's new chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, said that the federal government should provide aid to the automobile industry to help the major automakers and their supplies survive the financial crisis.
Podesta said on “Fox News Sunday” that Obama was considering Democrats, Republicans and independents for Cabinet positions.
Obama does not intend to name any Cabinet officials this week, aides said Sunday, but is prepared to announce additional White House senior staff decisions as early as Tuesday.
The executive orders of the Bush administration are among the many items being reviewed by the new Obama team. The team will scrutinize the policies that could be reversed through the power of an executive order of the new president.
The federal Bureau of Land Management is poised to open about 360,000 acres of public land in Utah to oil- and gas-drilling, a plan that the Bush administration has argued would not harm the land. Environmentalists have opposed the idea, a sentiment echoed by Podesta on Sunday.
“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 “Fox News Sunday.”
Emanuel said that Congress needed to extend unemployment insurance benefits and offer states a lift in paying for health-care bills. When the new Democratic Congress convenes in January, he said, they should tackle a wider economic stimulus package that includes the middle-class tax cut that was a centerpiece of Obama's campaign.
“You cannot have a strong and resilient economy that does not have a strong and resilient middle class,” he said on ABC News' “This Week.” “They have been squeezed over the last number of years, and it is essential to have an economic strategy that strengthens them going forward.”