Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Truth About Czars

Taking my queue from Sibby (though unlike him I will use blockquotes), I will cut and paste the White House's response to Glenn Beck's latest attempt to fire up the sheeple over Obama's "Czars" without comment. From the White House blog:
Take a look at the facts below – the truth about "czars":

Rhetoric:  Critics have claimed the Obama Administration is filled with new and unchecked czars.

Glenn Beck Claimed There Were 32 "Czars" In The Obama Administration. "The Brainroom counts 32 czars in the Obama administration, based on media reports from reputable sources that have identified the official in question as a czar." [Glenn Beck Website, 8/21/09]

In Sunday’s Washington Post, Sen. Hutchison Claimed There Were An "Unprecedented 32 Czar Posts." "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.’" [Washington Post, 9/13/09]

Reality: Many of the arbitrarily labeled "czars" on Beck’s list are Senate-confirmed appointees or advisory roles carried over from previous administrations. Others are advisors to the President’s Cabinet Secretaries.  Beck himself says on his own website, "Since czar isn't an official job title, the number is somewhat in the eye of the beholder."

Republicans have supported these positions in the past. When asked on Fox News if he had opposed any of President Bush’s "czars," Rep. Darrell Issa admitted "No we didn’t." In fact, the Bush administration had many of the same officials and advisors now described as "czars,"  including Afghanistan czar, AIDS czarDrug czarFaith-based czar, Intelligence czar, Mideast Peace Czar, Regulatory Czar, Science Czar, Sudan Czar, TARP/Bailout Czar, Terrorism Czar, and Weapons Czar.

Of the 32 "czars" on Beck’s list, nine were confirmed by the Senate:

Deputy Interior Secretary David J. Hayes ("California Water Czar")
Director of National Drug Control Policy Gil Kerlikowske ("Drug Czar")
OMB Deputy Director Jeff Zients ("Government Performance Czar")
Director of National Intelligence Adm. Dennis Blair ("Intelligence Czar")
OMB Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Cass Sunstein ("Regulatory Czar")
Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and OSTP Director John Holdren ("Science Czar")
Treasury Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability Herb Allison ("TARP Czar")
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Ashton Carter ("Weapons Czar")
OSTP Associate Director Aneesh Chopra ("Technology Czar")

Many of the same critics who are decrying these roles have applauded or even pushed for them in the past. Sen. Robert Bennett has criticized czars as "undermining the Constitution,"  but reportedly prodded President Clinton to appoint a Y2K Czar.  In a 1999 CNN appearance, Sen. Bennett said "I think John Koskinen has been superb. I wrote the president six months before John was appointed, recommending that he appoint a Y2K czar." At  a 1999 National Press Club luncheon, Bennett told reporters the Koskinen was "there to help, prod, give information, and make analyses and reports"  and said he spoke with the czar to ensure "we maintain the kind of bipartisan and across-the-government sort of communication that this never becomes a political issue."

Senator Lamar Alexander has also criticized President Obama’s "czars," calling them "an affront to the Constitution."  But during remarks delivered on the Senate floor in 2003, Sen. Alexander said "I would welcome" President Bush’s "manufacturing job czar."  That same day in the Senate, he also expressed support for President Bush’s AIDS czar Randall Tobias.

When asked on Fox News if he had opposed any of President Bush’s "czars," Rep. Darrell Issa responded "No we didn’t," despite previously claiming that czars "undermine" transparency and accountability.

In fact, last year, 176 House Republicans, including Issa, voted for a bill that would create an "Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator" that would advise the President and serve in the White House. By the time the bill passed the Senate, it was co-sponsored by 20 additional senators, including Sen. Alexander.

Ok I lied, I will make just a few comments.

The idea of a czar is not something dreamed up by Obama which seems to be the perception of the delusional Beck followers. The first permanent "Czars" were appointed by Nixon in the early 1970's when he created the Energy and Drug Czar positions and the "Czar" has been around in US politics since the Roosevelt Administration in the 1940's. And just for some perspective, George Bush supposedly had even more "Czars" than Obama does.

Do I need to Google that for these folks as well?

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