Pres. Obama “Power Abuser-in-Chief”
Yesterday, President Obama delivered a speech in Shaker Heights, Ohio, announcing his “recess” appointment of Richard Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) (and now also members to the NLRB). First off, the Senate is not in recess, it is in Pro Forma session, which was designed to keep the President from making recess appointments, specifically recess appoints for nominees who have been rejected by the Senate. President Obama’s refusal to abide by decades of precedent is an egregious abuse of power. We suspect that if President George W. Bush had done such a thing, there would have been calls from the left for his impeachment – or worse (even liberal Washington Post writer Ezra Klein concedes this point).
Back in 2005, then-Senator Obama claimed that recess appointments were “the wrong thing to do.” He also said nominating a person as a recess appointment is “…somebody who couldn’t get through a nomination in the Senate. And I think that that means that we will have less credibility…” (The State Journal-Register, 8/2/05, link not available). Of course, then-Senator Obama was talking about Bush’s nomination of Jon Bolton as ambassador to the U.N.; but the sentiment is the same. Then-Senator Obama believed Bolton was a bad choice for the position, and felt that a recess appointment was bad for the American people. Today, Senate Republicans believe that the board Cordray is being appointed to is not only flawed, but will do more harm than good. So, they opposed his recess appointment.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who once called recess appointments an “abuse of power,” now says – predictably – that he supports President Obama’s decision to falsely claim that the Senate is in recess and appoint Cordray. Sen. Reid, of course, consistently held Pro Forma sessions in order to block President George W. Bush’s nominations. We assume he’s hoping no one will notice the hypocrisy.
The act itself is unprecedented, but there is a relatively new precedent reaffirming just how outrageous President Obama’s actions are. In 1993, the DOJ under President Bill Clinton ruled that a break has to last more than 3 days in order to be considered a recess. Senators have been gaveling in every three days in order to keep the Senate in Pro Forma session (and by the way, no President has made a recess appointment with the Senate out less than 10 days.)
In fact, just last year, President Obama’s own DOJ member, Deputy Solicitor General Neal Katyal, said during a Supreme Court hearing that “the recess has to be longer than 3 days.”
The CATO Institute responded to President Obama’s sham of a “recess” appointment by pointing out:
“More importantly the ‘recess’ appointment of Cordray doesn’t solve the President’s problem. The Dodd-Frank Act is very clear, even a law professor can probably under this section, that authorities under the Act remain with the Treasury Secretary until the Director is ‘confirmed by the Senate’. A recess appointment is not a Senate confirmation. Now don’t ask me why Dodd and Frank included such unusual language, they could have just given the Bureau the new authorities, but they didn’t.”
The President said in his speech yesterday that one of the things Cordray would be responsible for making sure students aren’t taken advantage of with student loans:
“So if you’re a student, I see only young — I see some young people out here. His job — his job will be to protect you from dishonest lending practices and to make sure that you’ve got the information that you need on student loans. He’s already started up an initiative called know before you owe. That’s a good slogan. Know before you owe. You don’t want to owe and then know.”
Poor rhyme aside, the government is – thanks to President Obama – the only issuer of student loans. Is our big-government President admitting that students are getting preyed upon by…big-government policies? Wouldn’t that be novel!
The biggest problem with this appointment is that because the law of Dodd-Frank explicitly says that Cordray must be confirmed by the Senate. Since he was not, that opens up not only is his appointment to legal review, but any rule he puts in place as well. Appointing Cordray in this way not only usurps the system of checks and balances the legislative branch has on the executive branch, but it also puts any decision Cordray makes on shaky ground, creating even more uncertainty in our country. If the President is determined to keep uncertainty high and prolong a poor economy, he’s made the right move.