Friday, August 04, 2006

What Happens When You Don't Pay Attention to Mid-Level Political Appointees?

We all know about hurricane season and what happened when they put an ethically impaired jerk in charge of FEMA. But what other kinds of damage can invisible bureaucratic hacks do? Let's find out, shall we?

When senators spent two hours yesterday grilling President Bush's choice to be commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, perhaps the happiest person in the room was Paul DeCamp, whose nomination to a key Labor Department post was also up for confirmation.

Now a senior policy adviser in the department, DeCamp shared the witness table but escaped unscathed, but for a handful of barbed questions from Democrats who are opposed to his nomination to be wage and hour administrator -- the official who enforces rules governing minimum wages, overtime and other workplace issues affecting 130 million American workers.


DeCamp also drew criticism for having represented Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in a class-action lawsuit by 1.6 million low-wage female workers over alleged sex discrimination.

"Have you ever defended a worker in a lawsuit against an employer?" asked Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.).

"I have not," DeCamp replied.

These are the sorts of people, lost in middle federal management, that actually oversee implementation of laws, no matter what they are; and if they are accidentally or willfully incompetent, and politicians don't pay attention, it doesn't matter if we mandate a chicken in every pot because they will find ways to screw it up. It's no different than packing the courts, really, except you probably won't get a lot of chain e-mails about the dangers of nominating Paul DeCamp to be wage and hours administrator at DOL.


Blogger nolo said...

Great post, and great point.

10:47 AM  
Blogger charvakan said...

It would have been greater if you'd realized that DeCamp et al are not actually incompetent at what they've been hired to do, which is spread a little sugar to cronies and to subvert the agencies they're running. DeCamp in particular seems not so much like a guy who's in over his head as a guy appointed to do just what he's likely to do.

My friend at Interior tells me that the Bush appointees there aren't stupid or incompetent--they're malevolent. They don't want to preserve a damned thing--they want to give it away to special interests, and they're pretty darned good at it too. He said the Clinton appointees were less competent, but most actually were in favor of the laws rather than actively trying to get around them.

12:26 PM  
Blogger charvakan said...

If you posted these insights on TLI, more people would see them. And boy is it annoying to have to type in the verification every time.

12:27 PM  
Blogger Lapp said...

Charvakan --

Duly noted on both points. I've often wondered whether I could somehow cross-post to both places at ones. I doubt it.

I'll move this post over shortly. As far as the verification, it's the only way I know to stop blogspam, of which I used to get a surprising amount before I instituted some controls.

1:07 PM  

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