Thursday, February 26, 2009

Byrd Denounces Obama Power Grab

You asked for my source, here it is:

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0209/19303.html

Byrd: Obama in power grab

By JOHN BRESNAHAN

Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), the longest-serving Democratic senator, is criticizing President Obama’s appointment of White House “czars” to oversee federal policy, saying these executive positions amount to a power grab by the executive branch.

In a letter to Obama on Wednesday, Byrd complained about Obama’s decision to create White House offices on health reform, urban affairs policy, and energy and climate change. Byrd said such positions “can threaten the Constitutional system of checks and balances. At the worst, White House staff have taken direction and control of programmatic areas that are the statutory responsibility of Senate-confirmed officials.”

While it's rare for Byrd to criticize a president in his own party, Byrd is a stern constitutional scholar who has always stood up for the legislative branch in its role in checking the power of the White House. Byrd no longer holds the powerful Appropriations chairmanship, so his criticism does not carry as much weight these days. Byrd repeatedly clashed with the Bush administration over executive power, and it appears that he's not limiting his criticism to Republican administrations.

Byrd also wants Obama to limit claims of executive privilege while also ensuring that the White House czars don’t have authority over Cabinet officers confirmed by the Senate.

“As presidential assistants and advisers, these White House staffers are not accountable for their actions to the Congress, to cabinet officials, and to virtually anyone but the president,” Byrd wrote. “They rarely testify before congressional committees, and often shield the information and decision-making process behind the assertion of executive privilege. In too many instances, White House staff have been allowed to inhibit openness and transparency, and reduce accountability.”

The West Virginia Democrat on Wednesday asked Obama to “consider the following: that assertions of executive privilege will be made only by the president, or with the president’s specific approval; that senior White House personnel will be limited from exercising authority over any person, any program, and any funding within the statutory responsibility of a Senate-confirmed department or agency head; that the president will be responsible for resolving any disagreement between a Senate-confirmed agency or department head and White House staff; and that the lines of authority and responsibility in the administration will be transparent and open to the American public.”

7 comments:

Uncle Lar said...

Smacks to me of a hyena and a buzzard fighting over first rights to a still living carcass. And to extend the metaphor further, as we the country would appear to be the object of their interest, if we don't fight the carrion feeders off it doesn't matter which of them wins, we still get et. As amusing as their bickering is the only benefit is if we use the time wisely to rally our forces and develop a defense that will stop them cold.

High Plains Lawyer said...

Thanks Mike. Very interesting! Might be a useful arrow in our quiver to wake up some folks who are independents and even dems (who were so worried about executive power grabs during the Bush Admin, but are now cozy sleeping frogs), pointing out how Obama is on the same course toward absolute executive supremacy.

HPL

Anonymous said...

Well yes, and when old Robert Byrd calls someone from the Office of Urban Affairs before a committee, Obama will claim executive privledge and refuse to have'em testify.

High Plains Lawyer said...

"Smacks to me of a hyena and a buzzard fighting over first rights to a still living carcass. And to extend the metaphor further, as we the country would appear to be the object of their interest, if we don't fight the carrion feeders off it doesn't matter which of them wins, we still get et."

Well said. And that applies to any "fighting" between the GOP (including the Lairds of Fairfax) and the Dems as much as between Obama and Congressional Dems.

Or is that what you meant, Uncle Lar?

Both parties worship the Leader principle. And neither have anything but contempt for the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or your natural right to bear arms.

Greyhawk said...

Nice find! Very nice, indeed.

Uncle Lar said...

Staying with the metaphor, I regard the GOP and the NRA as second tier scavengers waiting for the big dogs to finish lunch so they can dart in and feast on the scraps.
And the way I deal with that is to invoke turnabout and use those organizations for my purposes.
I pay NRA dues every five years, that being the cheapest deal. I figure that goes toward the good work they do in the areas of training and education. All my other contributions go to more worthy efforts: SAF, GOA, some pro KABA websites, the Olofson relief fund, and so on.
As to the Grand Old Party, I am on several of their mailing lists for the information value that provides. I do tend to vote Republican as they are usually more in line with my views, but not above throwing my vote at a conservative Democrat rare as those seem to be getting these days.
Bottom line, once you realize you're dealing with theives and liars you're free to implement your own rules of engagement to mazimize your own position. It's when you still think they are your friends that you get taken to the cleaners.

High Plains Lawyer said...

Uncle Lar:

"Bottom line, once you realize you're dealing with theives and liars you're free to implement your own rules of engagement to mazimize your own position. It's when you still think they are your friends that you get taken to the cleaners."

What Uncle Lar said.

The only thing I would add is that the rank and file of the GOP, ESPECIALLY in rural America, are still far, far closer to being true constitutionalists than the GOP leadership at the state or national level.

I took part in my county and state GOP convention and it was a real eye opener to see the sharp difference between the city and rural folks, and between the rank and file and the leadership.

I expected that difference, as you likely would too, but it was far greater than even I thought it would be.

I met some very serious, salt of the earth constitutionalists (even aside from Ron Paul supporters!) from the rural parts of my state.

Once they heard and understood why something was against the Constitution, they were not willing to compromise on core principles, and stood like a rock, even to the point of pissing off the state leadership and the McCain campaign.

It really lifted my spirits to meet such men and women.

There is hope yet for many, many GOP members.