Obama Has Too Many Czars, Critics Complain

Sen. Byrd says Obama's 'super aide' craze is a power grab
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 5, 2009 10:05 AM CST
Robert Byrd waves as he arrives on Capitol Hill Thursday, Feb. 26, 2009. Byrd thinks Obama has too many czars.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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(Newser) – Barack Obama loves czars. He’s got an energy czar, an urban affairs czar, an economic czar, and, most recently, a health reform czar, making him the most czar-happy president ever, scholars say. But lawmakers worry they’re losing ground in the "super aide" craze, the LA Times reports. Sen. Robert Byrd sent a cautionary letter to Obama last week telling him that his czars are assuming duties that ought to belong to officials confirmed by Congress.

The Obama administration says it needs czars, high-powered advisers who work across departments, to improve efficiency. But Byrd complains that past czars have avoided congressional testimony, hiding behind executive privilege. “The rapid and easy accumulation of power by White House staff can threaten the constitutional system,” he wrote. Scholars say that fear is valid, and one noted a practical concern: “There are so many czars in this White House, they'll be constantly bumping in to each other.” (Read more Barack Obama stories.)