Bush's Newest Tack: Bypass Congress

Since the start of his administration, Bush has preferred to confront big problems with big solutions.

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Since the start of his administration, President Bush has disdained what he calls "small ball," preferring to confront big problems with big solutions. Not anymore. As he tries to end-run a balky Congress, Bush is taking a page from Bill Clinton's playbook by adopting a series of mini-initiatives to change policy through executive orders and administration actions that don't require legislation. An example: He recently ordered some military aviation routes cleared for "express lanes" to facilitate commercial flights along the congested East Coast to reduce delays during the holidays. It seemed a popular move and gained him lots of media attention, even though bad weather and a severely strained air-traffic-control system could easily foil the plan. Bush also ordered increases in compensation for airline passengers who are bumped from overbooked flights (although it won't take effect for several months). Other unilateral moves are in the pipeline to improve healthcare for injured war veterans, allow more farm workers to enter the country legally, and promote alternative fuels and reduce the use of foreign oil. Although these solo actions may not go very far, Bush has little choice. His influence with the Democratic majority in Congress is dwindling fast as he enters his final year in office.