The czars' salaries are paid by the U.S. taxpayers, but they are not confirmed by the Senate, yet they appear to have the authority to override those who are confirmed. Lack of Senate confirmation means we must rely on Glenn Beck to discover that the green jobs czar, Van Jones, is or was a communist and a self-described "rowdy black nationalist."
So far, Obama has appointed 34 czars. Just listing them is enough to scare anyone who believes in constitutional and representative government: Afghanistan czar, aids czar, border czar, car czar, climate czar, copyright czar, cyberspace czar, drug czar, economic czar, education czar, energy czar, executive pay czar, faith-based czar, Great Lakes czar, green jobs czar, Guantanamo closure czar, health reform czar, infotech czar, intelligence czar, Iran czar, Middle East peace czar, non-proliferation czar, Persian Gulf/Southeast Asia czar, regulatory czar, science czar, stimulus accountability czar, Sudan czar, TARP czar, terrorism czar, urban czar, war czar, and WMD and terrorism czar.
At least one Obama pal is functioning in a similar capacity without the awesome Russian title of czar. Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, who publicly withdrew from the position of secretary of health and human services because of non-payment of income taxes, is providing "outside advice" to the president inside the Oval Office and to top White House officials, while continuing as a highly paid policy adviser to hospital and pharmaceutical clients of a law and lobbying firm.
Daschle is not registered as a lobbyist -- he identifies himself as a "resource" to government and industry. It looks like Daschle has the best of all worlds, both for influence and remuneration.
The senior Senate Democrat, Robert Byrd of West Virginia (who is third in line for the U.S. presidency after Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi), wrote Obama in February saying that these czar appointments are a power grab by the executive branch and violate both the constitutional system of checks and balances and the constitutional separation of powers. He said they are a clear attempt to evade congressional oversight.
The president is entitled to have his own advisers, but these czars are directly dictating policy, and nobody really knows the extent of their powers. Whatever happened to Obama's campaign promise of transparency?
Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., has introduced the Czar Accountability and Reform Act to cut off the salaries of these czars (estimated at $172,000 plus their staffs of 10-plus people). It's unlikely that the Democratic Congress will let this bill see the light of day.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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