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Obama 'to reverse Bush decisions'

Barack Obama - 7/11/2008
Mr Obama's team is scrutinising Mr Bush's executive orders

US President-elect Barack Obama will seek to reverse Bush administration policies when he enters office on 20 January, his transition chief has said.

John Podesta said executive orders by President George W Bush on issues such as stem cell research and oil drilling were at odds with Mr Obama's views.

Plans to pass a raft of last-minute regulations are also being watched.

On Monday Mr Obama and Mr Bush will hold their first meeting since the Democrat's election victory.

Mr Obama and his wife, Michelle, will be given a tour of their new home at the White House.

Afterwards the president-elect and Mr Bush are expected to hold what Mr Obama has described as "substantive talks".

'Deliberate haste'

The meeting has been arranged with unusual haste - analysts say this is in part because the US is at war, and also the transition is taking place in the midst of an economic crisis.

Mr Obama has said that dealing with the economy is his top priority, and that he will move with "deliberate haste" to choose his cabinet.

John Podesta
You see the Bush administration even today moving aggressively to do things I think are not in the interest of the country
John Podesta

Speaking on Fox News, Mr Podesta said Mr Obama's team was working hard to "build up that core economic team".

Speaking on Friday in his first news conference as president-elect, Mr Obama said he would seek a constructive approach to the meeting with Mr Bush.

"I'm not going to anticipate problems. I'm going to go in there with a spirit of bipartisanship," he said.

However, reports from Washington suggest Mr Obama's transition team has been working hard to identify issues where executive decisions made by Mr Bush could be quickly repealed by Mr Obama.

The Washington Post reported that transition officials had compiled a list of some 200 executive orders to be considered for repeal.

Mr Podesta said executive orders on stem cell research or drilling in Utah could be easily repealed as no congressional action was needed.

In 2001, Mr Bush issued an executive order limiting federal funding for medical research using human embryo stem cells. The move was popular with moral conservatives but critics say it has hampered US medical research efforts.

BUSH DECISIONS UNDER FIRE
Limited federal funding for medical research using human embryo stem cells
Aid groups receiving US aid barred from counselling women about abortion availability
California barred from imposing minimum standards of vehicle fuel efficiency
Utah land being opened up for oil and gas drilling

Mr Podesta highlighted the Bush administration's attempts to authorise oil and gas drilling in Utah as one order which could be easily repealed.

The Washington Post said other orders affecting environmental legislation and abortion issues were also under consideration.

"[Obama is] a transformational figure, and I think he's going to transform the way government acts as we move forward," Mr Podesta said.

Last-minute concerns

Potential plans for a last-minute rush of executive decisions by the White House were also being watched carefully, Mr Podesta said.

"You see the Bush administration even today moving aggressively to do things I think are not in the interest of the country," he added.

The current administration has proposed a number of regulation changes they hope can be approved before Mr Obama's team moves into the White House.

Critics say many of the proposals would weaken environmental and consumer protection as well as reduce controls on drilling and mining companies.

Bush White House officials deny the plans are being rushed through, while critics suggest the proposals could be difficult for Mr Obama's administration to undo, calling them an "assault on the public".

The co-chair of Mr Obama's transition team, Valerie Jarrett, said the new president was aiming to assemble a diverse, bipartisan cabinet.

"I'm confident his administration will include people from all perspectives," she said.

Mr Bush's chief of staff, Josh Bolten, has pledged a smooth transition.

"If a crisis hits on January 21, they're the ones who are going to have to deal with it. We need to make sure that they're as well prepared as possible," Mr Bolten said.

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