Video: Republican pushback on czars begins

posted at 11:36 am on September 15, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

After the resignation of Van Jones over his 9/11 Truther connections, Republicans feel energized to tackle what they see as the greatest abuse of power in the Obama administration: the proliferation of czars. Fittingly, it starts in the Senate, the legislative body Barack Obama has bypassed with his proliferation of unaccountable commissars in government. Yesterday, Lamar Alexander (R-TN) delivered a blistering attack on the apparatchiks of Obama’s government and the way it undermines the checks and balances in the system:

According to news accounts, there are 32 or 34 so-called czars in the Obama White House. Respected voices in the Senate—Senator Byrd and Senator Hutchison, a senior Democrat and a senior Republican—have pointed out that these czars are an affront to the Constitution. They’re anti-democratic. They are a poor example of a new era of transparency which was promised to this country. They are a poor way to manage the government and they seem to me to be the principal symptom of this administrations eight-month record of too many Washington takeovers.

Sunday, Kay Bailey Hutchinson expanded on that argument in the Washington Post:

Nearly 250 years later, these critical lines of separation are being obscured by a new class of federal officials. A few of them have formal titles, but most are simply known as “czars.” They hold unknown levels of power over broad swaths of policy. Under the Obama administration, we have an unprecedented 32 czar posts (a few of which it has yet to fill), including a “car czar,” a “pay czar” and an “information czar.” There are also czars assigned to some of the broadest and most consequential topics in policy, including health care, terrorism, economics and key geographic regions.

So what do these czars do? Do they advise the president? Or do they impose the administration’s agenda on the heads of federal agencies and offices who have been vetted and confirmed by the Senate? Unfortunately — and in direct contravention of the Framers’ intentions — virtually no one can say with certainty what these individuals do or what limits are placed on their authority. We don’t know if they are influencing or implementing policy. We don’t know if they possess philosophical views or political affiliations that are inappropriate or overreaching in the context of their work.

This is precisely the kind of ambiguity the Framers sought to prevent. Article One tasks the legislative branch with establishing federal agencies, defining what they do, determining who leads them and overseeing their operations. Article Two requires the president to seek the advice and consent of the Senate when appointing certain officials to posts of consequence. Thus, authority is shared between government branches, guaranteeing the American people transparency and accountability.

It’s well past time for the Republicans to demand answers on the massive expansion of “czars” in the government. A proper Congress would have balked at it regardless of the political parties involved. They represent a deliberate attempt to undermine the role of Congress as a check on executive power, and set a very dangerous precedent for subsequent administrations of both parties. Until now, Congress has jealously protected its Constitutional prerogatives, a task in which the current leadership in the Senate has utterly failed.


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Did I miss something?? ny59giants on September 15, 2009 at 12:31 PM
Yes. Must be able to produce a valid birth certificate.

Akzed on September 15, 2009 at 12:35 PM

From Kenya count?

dthorny on September 15, 2009 at 12:41 PM

The only position left in CrockObama’s crew:

dthorny on September 15, 2009 at 12:38 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfJe8hQ8ha0

with the link.
dthorny on September 15, 2009 at 12:39 PM

dthorny on September 15, 2009 at 12:42 PM

I think Glen Beck should address both houses of Congress

bluegrass on September 15, 2009 at 11:39 AM

I think I should address both houses of Congress. Won’t be pretty, I promise.

jimmy2shoes on September 15, 2009 at 12:51 PM

yes! jimmy2shoes to address Congress!

kelley in virginia on September 15, 2009 at 12:52 PM

We saw all this coming when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton got a czar competitor (Susan Rice) even before the swearing in ceremony. Rice would have reported to Clinton, but Obama made Rice’s post (Ambassador to the United Nations) a Cabinet post, thus diluting considerably the power traditionally afforded the Secretary of State in crafting a unified foreign affairs voice for the nation. Instead, we had two Cabinet members individually tasked with foreign policy concerns.

Such are the problems overall with the czar system; there are two leaders for each task — the one in the Cabinet who has been vetted by the Senate, and another who may or may not have been (and, in the case in general, has not been). This creates the illusion of a shadow Cabinet within the Executive — a group who can make decisions without accountability.

Liberals will point in defense to czars in the Bush Administration, but their criticism will boil down to the same argument — the czar system destroys the separation of powers to have unconfirmed individuals doing Cabinet-level work.

unclesmrgol on September 15, 2009 at 12:55 PM

Did my Senator really do this?

ladyingray on September 15, 2009 at 1:00 PM

‘Bout damn time. Have these people been asleep at the wheel or don’t they give a crap that congress has been neutered?

Kissmygrits on September 15, 2009 at 1:01 PM

Term limits would not be needed if we did the following:
1. Eliminate congressional perks. (retirement plans, ect.)
2. Make congress live by the same laws under which U.S. citizens live . ( Healthcare, ect. )
3. Congressional pay raises must be voted on by citizens.
4. Congress must read any bill on which it votes .
5. Eliminate add-ons. ( earmarks )

Johan Klaus on September

I disagree with your premise but I like your list of restrictions/limitations. Even with these however, congress will find other ways to vote themselves more power and money. Term limits are essential to controlling the baser instincts of corruptible people. They have proven they cannot control themselves. This is not cynicism, this is history.

SKYFOX on September 15, 2009 at 1:05 PM

Obie needs people to throw under the train as it comes off the tracks. Without the czars he has no one to blame but himself – and W.

You know he won’t blame himeself.

Mangy Scot on September 15, 2009 at 1:05 PM

himself.

Dyslexic fingers.

Mangy Scot on September 15, 2009 at 1:07 PM

Term limits would not be needed if we did the following:
1. Eliminate congressional perks. (retirement plans, ect.)
2. Make congress live by the same laws under which U.S. citizens live . ( Healthcare, ect. )
3. Congressional pay raises must be voted on by citizens.
4. Congress must read any bill on which it votes .
5. Eliminate add-ons. ( earmarks )

Johan Klaus on September 15, 2009 at 12:32 PM

Since 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 will not all happen we need TERM LIMITS.

Geochelone on September 15, 2009 at 1:10 PM

I think KBH’s czar oped was excellent! didnt know she had it in her!

ginaswo on September 15, 2009 at 1:11 PM

Until now, Congress has jealously protected its Constitutional prerogatives, a task in which the current leadership in the Senate has utterly failed.

Ed, better watch it. Howard Kurtz can label you a racist. You mentioned the constitution, in re: to Obama.

Schadenfreude on September 15, 2009 at 1:30 PM

2.4 billion people, half of whom marched on Washington last weekend.

Bleeds Blue on September 15, 2009 at 12:11 PM

DARN COMMUNITY ORGANIZERS!!!!

NJ Red on September 15, 2009 at 1:32 PM

2. Make congress live by the same laws under which U.S. citizens live . ( Healthcare, ect. )

Social Security

Schadenfreude on September 15, 2009 at 1:34 PM

‘Bout damn time. Have these people been asleep at the wheel or don’t they give a crap that congress has been neutered?

Kissmygrits on September 15, 2009 at 1:01 PM

I’d like to rephrase this as:
‘Bout damn time. Congress has been asleep at the wheel. They just woke up from being neutered.
Or maybe some of them just woke up.

Blacksmith8 on September 15, 2009 at 1:35 PM

Czars are unconstitutional and will be a slam dunk if someone has the guts to push it all the way.

TrickyDick on September 15, 2009 at 1:37 PM

I wish the Republican Party had the same drive to save this nation as the Democrats have to destroy it. These professional politicians are so afraid of not getting reelected that they wait until 1.8 million voters get on their feet to do something. The Republican Party needs a new brand of patriots that want the job done and are willing to lose their royal status over saving the ideals of this nation.

Hening on September 15, 2009 at 1:55 PM

OK–I guess this is good but it’s probably more because our Legislators are ticked off about the WH power grab than anything else? NO, I’m going to spend a few minutes convincing myself it’s because they care.

jeanie on September 15, 2009 at 2:04 PM

leadership in the Senate has utterly failed

Which is why Harry Reid can’t poll about 43% against any Republican in Nevada.

SouthernGent on September 15, 2009 at 2:04 PM

My emails yesterday to my senators said this:
1. Please stop funding ACORN.
2. Please investigate the czars.

It only took me a minute or two. I beg you to do the same. It helps me feel less helpless against this juggernaut. Try it!

doctormom on September 15, 2009 at 11:53 AM

One of my senators was elected with help from Acorn–Al Franken. I am in shock he voted to stop the hud funding.

conservativegrandma on September 15, 2009 at 2:20 PM

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t appointing czars an odd activity for a Bolshevik?

Kafir on September 15, 2009 at 2:29 PM

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t appointing czars an odd activity for a Bolshevik?

Kafir on September 15, 2009 at 2:29 PM

Commisioner= Commisar = Czar …. evolution of Progresive Language…

Kinda like… Founding Fathers= Classic liberal = Reagen Conservative = Libertarian = Both parties calling them Whackos…

Or… Conservative= Vast Right Wing Conspiracy= Bush/Haliburton/Hitler Nazis= Racist Mob

Its ALL about the evolution of Language!

/sarc… sort of… dam… or not…

Romeo13 on September 15, 2009 at 2:41 PM

Concur with the folks posting above wrt Sunstein that these guys are all bark, no bite; a day late and a dollar short.

On Saturday, folks dressed up as the transparency (wearing plastic sheeting) and boob czars (will leave that to your imagination).

Another person at the rally joked that we should storm the (Capitol) building, first 535 to grab the seats, keep ‘em (emphasis: this was a joke). Half the folks I talked to at the rally had pocket Constitutions, had at least read the dang document and understood separation of powers.

Firefly_76 on September 15, 2009 at 2:54 PM

Term limits is the key, then idiots like Kennedy would’nt have been there for 47 YEARS!

royzer on September 15, 2009 at 2:58 PM

We need a Czar Wars Defense initiative.

Geochelone on September 15, 2009 at 4:04 PM

On Saturday, folks dressed up as the transparency (wearing plastic sheeting) and boob czars (will leave that to your imagination).

Firefly_76 on September 15, 2009 at 2:54 PM

I won’t!

Jim Treacher on September 15, 2009 at 8:26 PM

Ed, I found the problem:

A proper Congress would have balked at it regardless of the political parties involved.

See, right there you were thinking responsibility. Kay Bailout only thinks ‘where’s my cut’?

Blacksmith8 on September 15, 2009 at 9:42 PM

Comment pages: 1 2