Hat Tip: Storagemanager
By: Tait Trussell
Thursday, July 16, 2009
How do you know when a Democratic president has gone too far in appointing czars? When Robert Byrd criticizes him for it.
In an historic and possibly unconstitutional expansion of Executive authority, President Obama has named more than 30 “czars” with unprecedented and seemingly unlimited authority in a breadth of fields—ranging from U.S. border czar to Iran czar. All are responsible only to Obama. Now, the Messiah's appointment of czars has been labeled a blatant and unconstitutional power grab by an unusual source—the President pro tempore of the U.S. Senate, Robert Byrd, D-WV.
In a February letter to Obama, Byrd wrote that the czars “as presidential assistants and advisors “are not accountable for their actions to Congress, to cabinet officers, or to virtually anyone but the president.” He wrote the czarist system violates the Constitutional system of checks-and-balances and the separation of powers, and is a clear attempt to evade Congressional oversight.
The Constitution states that government officers with significant authority—they’re called Principal Officers—once nominated by the president are then subject to judgment by the Senate as to their confirmation. Principal Officers include not only members of the president’s cabinet but also assistant secretaries and deputy undersecretaries of federal departments. Byrd is hardly an insignificant voice in his party.
Byrd endorsed Obama over Hillary Clinton in the West Virginia primary last year. Before that, Senator Byrd was the Left’s favorite Constitutional expert during the Iraq War, when he broached the possibility of impeaching George Bush over NSA wiretapping. But he is now largely ignored, as he was during most of the Clinton years.
The appointment of Kenneth Feinberg June 10 as the pay-czar illustrates the breadth of power vested in Obama’s czars. Feinberg will have the authority to review, reject and likely determine specific compensation of any company executive who has taken bail-out money from Obama’s giant piggy bank. Not only will the top executives of these companies have to come to Feinberg with hat in hand for their salaries, so, too, will 100 high-ranking employees of Citigroup, Bank of America, American International Group (AIG), and other companies given large sums, such as General Motors.
Obama has protested “I don’t want to run a car company,” but he is setting its pay policy through Feinberg. Feinberg studied history in college and considered becoming an actor before he turned to the law, according to a story by Frances Romero's story in Time. He was chief of staff in Sen. Ted Kennedy’s office in the late 1970s. He dealt with money matters, but only as Special Master of the September 11 Victims Compensation Fund. Feinberg is author of a book entitled What Is Life Worth.
Top executives hope he can realize what they are worth. It takes not only knowledge but also a dose of conceit for a bureaucrat in Washington to set the pay of hundreds of executives in a variety of industries. Companies under pay-czar control must compete against companies here and abroad, which could offer higher pay and thereby drain the bail-out companies of just the key people they need to revive flagging profits. It won’t be easy for Feinberg, who has never worked in a business.
The number of czars is growing like weeds in a vacant field. A recent appointee was Lynn Rosenthal, a czar for domestic violence. (Have the country’s police all retired?). Rosenthal most recently focused on domestic violence in New Mexico in cases ranging from sexual assault to housing. The czars keep piling up: a U.S. border czar, an urban czar, a regulatory czar, a stimulus accountability czar (Wasn’t that supposed to be Joe Biden’s job?), a Middle East czar, a cyber-security czar.
But the most disturbing czar appointment is Carol Browner, “Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change.” Browner was a “commissioner of the Socialist International, the umbrella group for 170 “social democratic and labor parties” in 55 countries. She is also equipped to deal with our politicians’ audacious attempt to control the earth’s climate, having worked for “global warming” fright monger Al Gore.
Insolence in leadership has been of deep concern going back to our earliest patriots. For instance, in “Common Sense,” Thomas Paine in 1776 wrote: “Men who look upon themselves born to reign...soon grow insolent,..their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing of its true interests, and when they succeed to the government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions.”
Russell Riley, a presidential historian at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs said after Obama’s election, “He’ll need the right management style...With so many crises erupting on so many fronts; it’s not possible for him to tend to everything that needs to be dealt with.” Franklin Roosevelt, Obama’s hero, was a President with many assistants. They ran such programs as the WPA, NRA, AAA, FDIC, TVA, SEC, and NLRB.
Newsweek Magazine’s February 16 headline blared: “We Are All Socialists Now.” “In many ways,” its article said, “our economy already resembles a European one...we will become even more French.” European socialist governments, with sections of the economy run by "ministers," seem a most pleasing form of governance to our President.
Is this the final destination of the policies Obama has introduced?