A question for those in the know

Obviously over the last few days we’ve heard the discussion about whether Obamacare can or should be repealed or at least defunded. You know which camp I sit with, but this is a question for my readers who may have a little more awareness about the budgetary process and how Washington works. However, the question doesn’t involve Obamacare but instead involves something I presume is on the budget someplace.

Over the last two years, our less-than-illustrious President has hired a number of “czars” who didn’t need to be confirmed by Congress. Since they seem to be useless appendages on the federal payroll is it possible to defund them? And what happens to those people if they are?

I would think that their salaries and benefits (along with whatever administrative help they receive) comes out of the allocation for the Executive Branch; probably the same pot of money that is paying for Obama’s Asian trip to the tune of $200 million a day (or whatever the true figure is since there’s some dispute regarding these expenses.) Obviously there’s serious sums of money where the public hasn’t the foggiest idea where it goes, and to an outsider like me it just seems to disappear into the ether. I guess transparency and accountability were the buzzwords in vogue two short years ago but they seem to have faded into obscurity of late.

Perhaps this is a shortcoming of me as a citizen that I don’t have a great understanding of the process, but it occurs to me that we’re playing with sums unthinkable just a couple decades ago. (That “trillion” wasn’t needed until the late Reagan years.)

I also realize that getting rid of the “czars” would rank with eliminating earmarks in terms of budgetary impact. The reforms we truly need won’t come until 2013 at the earliest since it’s going to take a President and Congress with both foresight and cajones to tackle the REAL problem in the budget: entitlements.

But it would feel good to eliminate the “czars” and whether that takes a smaller allocation to the Executive Branch or actual line-item budgeting is beyond my pay grade and scope of knowledge. But that’s why I have readers to help me figure out such matters.

Author: Michael

It's me from my laptop computer.

5 thoughts on “A question for those in the know”

  1. I think these “czars” are advisers to the President and aren’t officially employees of the various executive branch agencies. If that’s the case, they are paid for out of the Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill. In FY10, there was $59.1 million appropriated for salaries in the White House. Congress does not mandate who gets what — that’s up to the President. Technically, Congress can do what it wants with appropriations, but it would be at least a violation of the separation of powers in spirit if Congress were to tell the President whom he can employ at what salary. So I guess Congress could find out what these czars are paid and then make a symbolic salary cut, but Congress can’t tell the President whom he can employ as a White House adviser.

  2. Helpful explanation, Marc. Thanks.

    My understanding about these “czars” is that they are employed as such for the express purpose of dodging rules and laws governing power, influence, and salary that the rest of the government must abide by. It’s just Obama’s way of pushing his agenda without receiving proper authority to do so.

  3. I’m not sure about that, John. These czars are subject to the same rules and whatnot that any other presidential adviser is subject to. And they don’t have any authority over any executive branch agencies. They can advise the President on certain policies and help shape his actions vis-a-vis the executive branch agencies, but they can’t set policy like cabinet heads do.

    While I understand the concern over the czars, I don’t really see them as a big deal. They don’t lead to greater authority for the President. Whether or not the President has a green jobs czar or not, he still has the same power. Naming someone to that position doesn’t increase his power.

  4. Yet unlike a Cabinet head, Marc, they are unaccountable to Congress. That’s the biggest problem people have with these “czars.” Perhaps they can’t technically defund the positions but a nice little cut to the Executive Branch might send a message.

  5. They are as accountable as any other adviser to the President is, Mike. There is something to be said for the separation of powers. The President’s staff is accountable to the President, not Congress. That’s the way it should be.

    These czars have no real power. The only power they have flows through the President. They don’t have an independent base of power like a cabinet head and they aren’t in charge of an agency that was created and is funded by Congress.

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