The Czars Still Live!

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 18 2011 12:30 PM

The Czars Still Live!

Robin Bravender reports on Barack Obama's signing statement on the budget compromise, in which he basically tells the Republicans where they can stick their defunding of four "czars."

Legislative efforts that significantly impede the president's ability to exercise his supervisory and coordinating authorities or to obtain the views of the appropriate senior advisers violate the separation of powers by undermining the president's ability to exercise his constitutional responsibilities and take care that the laws be faithfully executed. Therefore, the executive branch will construe section 2262 not to abrogate these presidential prerogatives.

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First, a moment of silence to remember that Obama promised not to use signing statements like this.

Second, a moment to think deeply on how the four "czar" offices defunded by the bill were currently vacant.

Third, let's consider when non-hack analysts have been saying for a very long time -- the "czar" farce is a product of two bad trends. It's 20 percent executive creep and overreach and 79 percent executive reaction to the Senate grinding down whatever it can in order to protest administration policies. The Obama administration has been fairly lousy about filling out positions, and there's a lot of blame to go around, but much of the reason that, say, Elizabeth Warren is sort of a "czar" right now, is that Republicans planned to freeze her nomination for a non-lifetime role even though voters have given Democrats control of the Senate in 2006, 2008, and 2010.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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