Archive for the ‘czars’ Category

All The President’s Men: Where’s The Congressional Oversight?

March 11, 2009

On day one of the Obama Administration, we saw the Chief of Staff of the White House, the Chief of Staff to the President of the United States, make a gesture in public that we considered to be distainful, undignified and inappropriate.  But there’s no law against that.  Then we saw the same Chief of Staff to the President of the United States attack an individual American citizen: using a friendly and eager to please media as his assassin.  Rahm Emanual attacked Rush Limbaugh.

If any one of these actions had been carried out by a military officer serving any of the Pentagon’s Generals or Admirals, he’d be out of a job and on the way toward retirement.

The president may not have what it takes

This is more than inappropriate.  This is something Congress should examine.  Not after the fact: Congress should confirm presidential appointees that feel they have only one loyalty to one man — even as they serve all Americans (and take our tax dollars as their pay and influence the spending of trillions of our tax dollars).

When Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) pulled his pocket sized copy of the U.S. Constitution out to criticize the President of the United States for naming White House policy czars, he wasn’t just acting like a crazy old coot.  He was making a very important point; as reiterated below by  Bruce Ackerman in today’s Washington Post….

For the first 150 years of our nation’s history, the Senate confirmed all leading members of the executive branch. But modern presidents have increasingly gained the power to make key appointments unilaterally — with President Obama taking this process to new heights. His White House czars such as Lawrence Summers and Carol Browner are likely to overshadow the Cabinet secretaries in their respective domains. Yet, as presidential assistants, they escape the need for Senate scrutiny. After the abuses of the Bush White House and the failed nominations in Obama’s own transition, this practice should be reconsidered.

By Bruce Ackerman
The Washington Post

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Obama’s clumsy, smirky staff and unelected appointees are sinking him


From Politico
February 25, 2009

Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), the longest-serving Democratic senator, is criticizing President Obama’s appointment of White House “czars” to oversee federal policy, saying these executive positions amount to a power grab by the executive branch.

In a letter to Obama on Wednesday, Byrd complained about Obama’s decision to create White House offices on health reform, urban affairs policy, and energy and climate change. Byrd said such positions “can threaten the Constitutional system of checks and balances. At the worst, White House staff have taken direction and control of programmatic areas that are the statutory responsibility of Senate-confirmed officials.”

While it’s rare for Byrd to criticize a president in his own party, Byrd is a stern constitutional scholar who has always stood up for the legislative branch in its role in checking the power of the White House.

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Incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel gestures prior ... 
Incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel gestures prior to the inauguration ceremony of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States, in Washington, January 20, 2009.(Jim Young – UNITED STATES/Reuters)

Obama’s White House Land of the Big Ego; “Addicted to Czars”

January 28, 2009

President Barack Obama is building a White House staff so loaded with big names and overlapping duties that it could collapse into chaos unless managed with a juggler’s skill.

It’s an administration that seems “addicted to czars,” says one longtime observer of government organization.

By CHARLES BABINGTON, Associated Press Writer

Obama has installed a White House health czar who doubles as secretary of Health and Human Services. The State Department now has “special envoys” for the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and for climate change — areas already overseen by other officials.

Just for the environment, along with the new climate envoy Obama has an energy secretary, an Environmental Protection Agency director and a chief of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Hovering over them all is Carol Browner, a high-profile former EPA administrator in a newly created role some call “climate czarina.”

The economic team is perhaps the most multilayered and ego-driven of all. Former college professor Christina Romer heads Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers. Timothy Geithner, a former top Federal Reserve official, is treasury secretary. Former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker is heading the newly formed Economic Recovery Advisory Board. And Peter Orszag, former head of the Congressional Budget Office, is the budget director.

Coordinating and perhaps overshadowing all of them is Lawrence Summers, the brainy and sometimes….

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