* President Obama’s Czars

organization

Overview


During the first year of his presidency, Barack Obama appointed at least 33 so-called “czars” to manage various governmental responsibilities. These czars were essentially “super aides” who worked across agency lines to push the president’s agenda. CBS News said they “report directly to Mr. Obama and have the power to shape national policy on their subject area.” The lines defining the boundaries of the czars’ power were unclear, however, even to many in Congress. For example, Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine said: “Who’s in charge of health care? Is it the Secretary of Health and Human Services? Or is the White House czar? Who is in charge of environmental and energy issues?”

Czars usually do not require congressional approval. In most cases there are no confirmation hearings, thus the czars are insulated from accountability to Congress. Critics say that such an arrangement threatens to increase the power of the president (who appoints these czars) beyond what is Constitutionally mandated. Democrat Senator Robert Byrd, for instance, said that the czar system:

“can threaten the Constitutional system of checks and balances … As presidential assistants and advisers, these White House staffers are not accountable for their actions to the Congress, to cabinet officials, or to virtually anyone but the president. They rarely testify before congressional committees, and often shield the information and decision-making process behind the assertion of executive privilege.”

List of President Obama’s Czars

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