Washington Post, Democrat, Challenge Obama’s Power Grab

September 21, 2010 05:00

“Last week President Obama appointed yet another czar’ with massive government power, answering only to him.”

From The Americano

The following paragraph could have easily been the lead to a story on President Barack Obama’s decision to appoint Elizabeth Warren as a Consumer Protection Agency czar, and thus not subject to the constitutional process that executive agency directors must be confirmed by the Senate. It wasn’t.

“Last week President Obama appointed yet another czar’ with massive government power, answering only to him.”

If the words sound familiar it is because they are precisely what happened again Friday. (Always on a Friday, the day politically savvy people know that there is less time to react to a story. When the government is trying to sneak one by the people. When they are doing something if not legally wrong, at least in clear violation of its promise of transparency in the administration.)

The lead mentioned in the second graph of this story, however, is more than a year old. It ran in a website call Infowars last June 15 (The website is not longer up). Yet what was said back then is still applicable today. The story was about Kenneth Feinberg being given the authority to set the pay scale for executives at any company receiving government money.

Back then President Obama had circumvented the congressional oversight  process by naming czars instead of government agency heads 16 times. Fifteen months later he has done it more than 30 times – Warren being the last of them. Feinberg has since moved on, he is now in charge of distributing the money BP must pay companies, states and individuals for the damage done by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Still the questions raised by Feinberg’s appointment are still valid today. And now as then, some of those asking the questions again are Democrats and people afraid that at some point someone will challenge President Obama’s rights to bypass the Constitution every time he wants to do something he knows that Congress won’t approve.

That is reminiscent of another President, many decades ago – Franklin D. Roosevelt – who when the Supreme Court declared his laws unconstitutional, he attempted – and failed – to pack the Court. In other words he tried to add members to the Court so a new majority would support his plans.

The opposition to appoint Feinberg came from Sen. Robert Byrd (D- W.V.). This was one of the last things the veteran Democratic senator did before he passed away earlier this year.

Back in February of 2009, when Obama began to circumvent the constitutional process, Byrd wrote a letter 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.

That was Byrd, a true blue Democrat, not a Republican, raising the possibility that what President Obama was, and is, doing is unconstitutional.

Now, with his latest appointment, as the president tries to concentrate all of the government’s powers around him and the Executive Branch, some of the most severe criticism is also coming from the left, from Democrats, and from the media that usually laps up everything the president does.

This time the harshest and irrefutable criticism comes from liberals like  Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut and in a strong editorial from The Washington Post.

Dodd, the chairman of the Banking Committee, who is not seeking re-election, said he understood the challenges of the confirmation process; the Democrats do not have the 60-seat majority they would need to overcome a potential Republican filibuster. But he said he still hoped the White House would make a formal nomination “fairly soon.”

President Obama ignored the warning from his own party stalwarts.

“By not allowing Ms. Warren’s nomination to be considered through the regular order of the full Senate confirmation process, the administration has circumvented one of the very few checks on a big new agency that already has been given an unprecedented concentration of regulatory powers,” said David Hirschmann, who runs the chamber’s Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness. “This maneuver is an affront to the pledge of transparency and consumer protection that’s purported to be the focus of this new agency.”

But the strongest words against the White House efforts to rule by issuing  executive fiats came from The Washington Post.

“We have qualms about Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard law professor President Obama has put in charge of setting up the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection,” the newspaper’s editorial said.

It explained that Warren, like many activists can be “simplistic and hyperbolic.”

The editorial takes pains in explaining the constitutional process and why even if Republicans were to exercise their right to filibuster a qualified candidate for an executive position, it is their prerogative to do so.

“In an ideal world, as opposed to the polarized Washington in which we actually live, she would have received at least a prompt hearing and a floor vote,” the Post wrote.

“Still, Republicans would have been within their rights. Can the same be said for Mr. Obama’s end run of the Senate confirmation process? Senate confirmation of the bureau’s director was one of the few checks Congress built into an office that otherwise will be very powerful and independent,” the editorial added.

“Mr. Obama would have been better off picking a more confirmable candidate, as some senators from his own party had urged. Even a recess appointment for Ms. Warren — which would have lasted through 2011 — would have been preferable in terms of sticking to constitutionally prescribed processes for filling federal offices. But either move would have infuriated progressives, who still dream of a full five-year term for Ms. Warren — and whose support Mr. Obama needs in November. For all intents and purposes, the president has created, and filled, a de facto directorship. This might have been in keeping with the letter of the laws, but not with their spirit,” the editorial concluded.

Now it is up to someone to challenge the Obama power grab in the courts!

The Americano /Agencies

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