Here's a great example of the criticism, which only makes sense if you completely ignore the Constitutional scheme or the importance of accountability to the voters:
Representative Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California and chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said: "The executive order allows the political staff at the White House to dictate decisions on health and safety issues, even if the government's own impartial experts disagree. This is a terrible way to govern, but great news for special interests."Waxman, of course, would much prefer that CONGRESS dictate decisions on health and safety issues. Or perhaps that unelected and un-fireable government bureaucrats dictate decisions on health and safety issues. (Anything that would prevent those nefarious businesses or incompetent ordinary people from makidecisionsons about their health and safety!) And I love the assumption that those who might disagree with the administration are necessarily "impartial." It's interesting how concerns about government intrusion never seem to apply
And then there is the sinisterism associated with "the political staff at the White House". The nice thing about "political staffs" is that they're accountable to voters through the executive. Elections should have consequences, but administrative agencies are almost impervious to them.
Administrative agencies are of questionable Constitutional legitimacy, I think, but even if Justice Thomas was cloned and appointed to the bench 8 times, they aren't going away. Therefore, because they clearly serve an executive function, they should be more closely administered by the executive. The elected, accountable executive. Any other option either gives too many executive powers to Congress, or leaves the bureaucracy to plow forward on its own - unaccountable, unrelenting, ever more intrusive, and ever harder to stop.
I'd like to see him go a step further - every federal agency and program should be carefully reviewed every ten years, just as military bases, units, and programs are, with an eye towards trimming them down, cutting them entirely, and looking at actual results rather than merely the feel-good-goals. Alas - cutting an EPA sub-agency that is sucking money without producing results makes total sense, and so it will die a quick death in Congress by people who will claim cutting such a program is "anti-environment."
I don't think Bush has the courage or political capital (or the desire, frankly) to go that far, but this executive order is a good step. It's about time a President attempted to wrestle this extra-Constitutional beast back under control.