An Imperial Presidency



Steve shares a statement from Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) on the GM takeover that I think is compelling.


A couple of points to consider is that for starters it seems you are only able to get help or be heard if you have political connections.  Then what is with all of the “czars.”  Yes I know many Presidents have had them, but no President has had as many with such power as President Barack Obama.  Tabitha Hale shared a list of our current count – 16 and counting:

  • Drug Czar: Gil Kerlikowske, former Seattle police chief
  • Energy and Environment Czar: Carol Browner
  • Homeland Security Czar: John Brennan
  • Health Czar: Nancy-Ann DeParle
  • Urban Affairs Czar: Adolfo Carrion, Jr.
  • Economic Czar: Paul A. Volcker
  • Regulatory Czar: Cass R. Sunstein
  • Technology Czar: Vivek Kundra
  • Government Performance Czar: Jeffrey Zients
  • Border Czar: Alan Bersin
  • WMD Policy Czar: Gary Samore
  • Intelligence Czar (Director of National Intelligence): Dennis Blair
  • Car Czar: Steven Rattner
  • Pay Czar: Kenneth R. Feinberg
  • Great Lakes Czar: Cameron Davis
  • Cyber Czar: TBA

Isn’t this why we have cabinet secretaries, the appointment process, senate and house committees, you know processes that have elected representatives involved or providing accountability and oversight?  Who oversees the czars?  Only one, The One, President Obama who seems to want to circumvent Congressional oversight which would include those pesky Republicans.  I know, I know, all they’ll do is get in the way of hope and change.

Is this even constitutional?   A top-ranking Democrat in the Senate doesn’t believe so.

This has become too much for the longest-serving senator in U.S. history to stomach. Democratic Senator Robert Byrd is the president pro tempore of the U.S. Senate. Even though Senate rules vest most powers in the Senate majority leader, the president pro tempore is a constitutional officer, and third in line to the U.S. presidency (after the vice president and the Speaker of the House). This office is held by a Democrat, who has been serving in the Senate since before Barack Obama was even born.

Senator Byrd wrote a letter to President Obama in February, criticizing the president’s strategy of creating czars to manage important areas of national policy. Senator Byrd said that these appointments violate both the constitutional system of checks and balances and the constitutional separation of powers, and is a clear attempt to evade congressional oversight.

This, along with the demand that Congress does his bidding on his timetable we do seem to have an Imperial Presidency in the making.

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  • http://diabolicomix.wordpress.com/ Strabo

    Actually it sounds like Byrd is the only one advocating anything unconstitutional. According to Article 2, Section 2, Clause 2 of the Constitution “[The President] shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint … all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

    According to the Supreme Court in the 1976 Buckley case, this means that “any appointee exercising significant authority pursuant to the laws of the United States is an “Officer of the United States, and must, therefore, be appointed in the manner prescribed by § 2, cl. 2, of that Article.”

    All Officers (read: cabinet members) go through the advice and consent process, the rest of them are inferior officers, even when they are called by the cool-sounding informal nickname of “czar.” Furthermore, as for all inferior officers, the Congress has long standing legislation vesting sole appointment authority in the president, pursuant to Art 2 Sect 2 Clause 2. So if Byrd thinks that the Senate needs to advise and consent on these appointments it isn't a constitutional issue at all but rather that he needs to pass some new laws that give him a legal basis for making such an outlandish accusation.

    Anyway, if you read carefully what Byrd said it is that the appointments violate the “spirit of the separate of powers” which is vague enough to not mean anything at all! Simply put there is no Constitutional violation, and if Congress thought it was going to far they could just change the legislation to require advice and consent, or even to vest appointment with the courts. But that would require votes that just aren't there… Because the fact is Obama is just carrying out the mandate from the election, that is to say the will of the people. Clearly democracy works, God bless America!

  • stevemct

    'The One' was elected President, not Emperor. In our government there is this concept of checks and balances. And one of the checks is the advise and consent of Congress. No matter how you interpret the 'Czar' label, these un-elected and un-accountable people who report only to 'The One' are implementing policy such as salary caps and nationalizing private businesses. If an elected officials tried some of these things, they would be excoriated by their constituents and voted out of office.

    Furthermore, I hardly call getting 52.9% of the vote tally for 'The One' a sweeping mandate and the will of the people.

    One other snag with your 'will of the people' argument is my elected representative, from my district, vehemently opposes anything 'The One' proposes. So how is it that my voice, through my elected Representative, doesn't need to be heard just because your guy won 52.9% of the vote and you call it a sweeping mandate?

  • stevemct

    Shane,

    Thanks for the link!

    Steve

  • http://caffeinatedthoughts.com Shane Vander Hart

    Strabo,

    You are assuming mid-level bureaucrat, but these people are given major authority with zero accountability. They are detached from any department of the Federal Government, but yet they are given spending power and regulatory power and there is no congressional oversight unlike cabinet members who lead departments who have to deal with congressional control of the purse strings.

    Also, cabinet level officers are not the only ones to go through the advise and consent. Undersecretaries do, FBI Director, Director of Central Intelligence, and Deputy Directors do as well.

    “Czars” have never been given this much power in any prior administration, Republican or Democrat. It is simply unprecedented and unwise.

    This “mandate” doesn't mean he can do whatever the heck he wants to do. The American people didn't give him a blank check.

  • http://caffeinatedthoughts.com Shane Vander Hart

    You are welcome!