Timothy Mathis" />
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Monday, October 2, 2023

Opinion

Czars crumbling US checks system


Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution states the president ‘may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices,’ thus giving our president a constitutional right to his cabinet.

Throughout our country’s history, notable people who were approved by the legislative branch before they started the job have held these positions.

This confirmation is part of our checks and balances system and is essential to maintain a government in which power cannot be centralized by any single entity or individual.
The executive branch has found a way to circumvent this check on the president’s power by creating ‘czar’ positions.

The first czar in the U.S. government, Carlton Turner, appeared in 1982 during the Reagan administration. Vice President Joe Biden coined the term ‘drug czar’ during a 1982 interview with a United Press International reporter. Since then, every president has either maintained or increased the number of czars in the U.S. government.

The man who invented the term czar, in regard to American politics, is now an accomplice to an unprecedented centralization of political power in the U.S. via the same system he named.

What is most troublesome is the rate at which President Obama has increased the number of these unconstitutional czars in his current administration.

A senior member of the Senate wrote, ‘the rapid and easy accumulation of power by White House staff can threaten the constitutional system of checks and balances.’ Before this is dismissed as right-wing fear mongering, it must be pointed out that a Democrat, Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., wrote this.

Byrd’s statement is not an exaggeration. The latest count dictates anywhere between 18 to 21 czars in the Obama administration, all of whom answer solely to the President and none of whom were confirmed by the legislative branch.

Byrd’s concerns appear to be grounded because no other administration in our history has appointed czars at Obama’s rate.

Without oversight, the quality of these appointments can be questioned. Herbert M. Allison is the Troubled Asset Relief Program czar. Allison’s last job was Cheif Executive Officer of Fannie Mae. Michael Brown of former President George W. Bush’s Federal Emergency Management Agency must not have been available.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, conservatives were roundly criticized when they characterized Obama as a power-hungry demagogue. If nothing else, our 44th president’s zeal for avoiding congressional oversight has validated those claims.

Timothy Mathis is a history junior and may be reached at [email protected]


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