Eric Cantor: Too many Presidential czars keep Congress in the dark

The Washington Post
Obama’s 32 Czars
By Eric Cantor
Thursday, July 30, 2009

“The biggest problems that we’re facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all. And that’s what I intend to reverse when I’m president of the United States.” — Sen. Barack Obama, March 31, 2008

To say President Obama failed to follow through on this promise is an understatement. By appointing a virtual army of “czars” — each wholly unaccountable to Congress yet tasked with spearheading major policy efforts for the White House — in his first six months, the president has embarked on an end-run around the legislative branch of historic proportions.

To be sure, the appointment of a few special officers to play a constructive role in a given administration is nothing new. What is new is the elevation of so many czars, with so much authority on endless policy fronts. Vesting such broad authority in the hands of people not subjected to Senate confirmation and congressional oversight poses a grave threat to our system of checks and balances.

At last count, there were at least 32 active czars that we knew of, meaning the current administration has more czars than Imperial Russia…

…The point here is not that President Obama’s reliance on czars is illegal (although it does raise significant, unresolved constitutional issues). Nor is it that these czars are bad people. It’s that we have not been able to vet them, and that we have no idea what they’re doing. It’s that candidate Obama made a pledge to keep Congress in the light. Yet less than six months after his inauguration, the president appears intent to keep Congress more and more in the dark. Dozens of czars at a time.

The writer, a Republican from Virginia, is the House minority whip.

The entire op-ed article may be read at The Washington Post

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