On July 30, the Washington Post gave House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) space to write an op-ed railing on President Obama’s “virtual army of ‘czars.’” Today, the Washington Post allowed Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison to write a similar op-ed complaining that these czars set “a dangerous precedent that undermines the Constitution’s guarantee of separated powers.” Hutchison tries to make these officials seem shady and mysterious by noting that many of them don’t even have “formal titles”:
Nearly 250 years later, these critical lines of separation are being obscured by a new class of federal officials. A few of them have formal titles, but most are simply known as “czars.” They hold unknown levels of power over broad swaths of policy. Under the Obama administration, we have an unprecedented 32 czar posts (a few of which it has yet to fill), including a “car czar,” a “pay czar” and an “information czar.” There are also czars assigned to some of the broadest and most consequential topics in policy, including health care, terrorism, economics and key geographic regions.
In fact, ALL of these officials have formal titles. For example, Hutchison cites Van Jones, the “green jobs czar.” But Jones had the title of Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation at the Council on Environmental Quality. The only person Obama has referred to as a czar is “drug czar” Gil Kerlikowske, whose official title is Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. (Additionally, “drug czar” was a term that existed long before the Obama administration.)
Hutchison’s lie mirrors a claim by Fox News’ Sean Hannity, who recently said that the only reason he calls these appointees “czars” is “because the White House itself does.” Of course, it’s the media — not the White House — that is driving the term.
Hutchison does not list the 32 individuals whom she considers to be “czars.” But if she’s relying on the same list as Cantor — who also cited 32 people — then several of them are far from unaccountable; they’ve actually already been confirmed by the Senate.