Obomination: The Barack Czar Life

Published Fri, Jul 8 2011 5:49 AM


Numbering more than the famed Romanev Dynasty, Obama’s czars are some of the most radical people in the executive branch.  Czars are high-level White House staff selected by the President without Senate confirmation and wielding extensive power without Congressional oversight.  With official titles like “Special Advisor,” “Assistant to the President” or “Special Envoy,” these individuals live the Barack Czar life – all that power, without any of the accountability.

Without undergoing informative Senate confirmation hearings, Obama has been able to select some of the most radical czars in his administration.  Green jobs czar Van Jones had signed a petition questioning whether the Bush administration deliberately allowed 9/11 to occur as a pretext for war and was involved with the Bay Area radical Marxist group, Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement (STORM).  Jones resigned, but there are still radical czars in office like John Holdren, the science czar, who supports compulsory abortion and sterilization as methods of population-control, and thinks that they could be upheld under the Constitution.

Republican Congressmen have derided Obama for making "an end-run around the constitutional process" and "creating a shadow government." But it’s not just Republicans who object.  The late Senator Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) wrote to Obama that "[t]he rapid and easy accumulation of power by White House staff can threaten the Constitutional system of checks and balances…[by taking] direction and control of programmatic areas that are the statutory responsibility of Senate-confirmed officials."  He noted that czars often "shield the information and decision-making process behind the assertion of executive privilege" and frequently "have been allowed to inhibit openness and transparency, and reduce accountability."

Former Senator Russ Feingold (D–Wisc.) convened the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution for a hearing titled "Examining the History and Legality of Executive Branch Czars."  Feingold expressed concern about czars "[t]o the extent that this undercuts that role and people are put in the place of Cabinet people and really are the key authorities and you can’t question them."  Weeks later, Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) held a hearing on "The Past, Present, and Future of Policy Czars" at the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.

Congress has made repeated efforts to do what it can to stop the czars.  In September 2009, Senator Susan Collins (R-Me.) introduced an amendment to the Interior Department appropriations bill that would have withheld federal funds for 18 czars.  In the House, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) proposed the Czar Accountability and Reform Act as well.  This year, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) successfully inserted language to defund czars into the spending bill.  However, Obama’s signing statement in April indicated his refusal to abide by Scalise’s amendment, based on the assertion that the amendment would unconstitutionally abrogate executive branch powers.  Last month, the Senate voted on Senator David Vitter’s (R-La.) amendment to the Nominations Process Reform Bill that sought to defund czars and require Senate confirmation.  It garnered the support of Democrats Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Ben Nelson (D-Ne.).  Unfortunately, in a close 47-51 vote, this amendment failed to pass. 

Despite Congressional disapproval, the Barack czar life continues.


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