Category Archives: recess appointments

Tactics to Deny Obama Appointments

The Republicans are supposedly aghast that Obama tried to make recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and that he appointed Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau when Congress, according to the Republicans, was not officially in a recess. Cries of “treason” and “unconstitutional” are ringing out once again from the GOP. Now they tell us how thrilled they are (like little girls) that a DC Circuit court consisting of three Conservative judges has declared that Obama’s appointments were unconstitutional. Obama will also be guilty of causing future Presidents to lose the right to make any recess appointments. How parental; this is like the parent who punishes one child by taking a privilege away from all of the children in the family, thus inciting backlash from the innocent children. Obama, you are a bad, bad boy.

Tangentially, Paul Krugman wrote an article in today’s (Monday, February 04, 2013) New York Timesthat shed a different light on this issue. In his article Friends of Fraud, he talks about Republican actions to block Obama’s appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This agency was recently created in the first term of Obama’s Presidency to protect consumers after mortgage irregularities led to hundreds of thousands of foreclosures, and after a number of predatory credit card practices.

The Republican’s supporters in the financial sector, says Krugman, want the GOP to put the kibosh on this agency. Between having a DC Circuit Court declare Obama’s recess appointment unconstitutional (discussed in a WSJ article) and mounting a filibuster in the Senate against approving Cordray’s appointment (discussed by Krugman), Conservatives seem to be working in tandem to obey the dictates of the financial sector.

Krugman tells us that Republicans are in denial about the role of the financial sector in our recent woes in the housing market and in other unsavory practices of the financial sector which rely on the lack of financial savvy in consumers. In his own words:

“How can the G.O.P. be so determined to make America safe for financial fraud, with the 2008 crisis still so fresh in our memory? In part it’s because Republicans are deep in denial about what actually happened to our financial system and economy. On the right, it’s now complete orthodoxy that do-gooder liberals, especially former Representative Barney Frank, somehow caused the financial disaster by forcing helpless bankers to lend to Those People.

In reality, this is a nonsense story that has been extensively refuted; I’ve always been struck in particular by the notion that a Congressional Democrat, holding office at a time when Republicans ruled the House with an iron first, somehow had the mystical power to distort our whole banking system. But it’s a story conservatives much prefer to the awkward reality that their faith in the perfection of free markets was proved false.”

First of all, as the op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal from Thursday, January 31, 2013 with the title Diminishing the Presidency tells us, Obama is not the first person to make appointments during a recess. This rule used to be applied when Congress was out of session for a long period of time, but Presidents have made use of the rule even in periods of very short recess. Since WSJ skews Conservative they tell us that recess appointments are only used in cases that involve important foreign issues. Obama used this “power” for relatively minor domestic appointments so he broke the rules and he must be punished.

From a more liberal point of view (mine), what choice did Obama have? Why should he stay in meek compliance while Republicans hold up almost every one of his appointments indefinitely? It is obvious that the GOP purposely kept a token presence in Congress so that Obama would not be able to make recess appointments (admittedly not a new tactic). However, you could reason that the GOP has no good reasons that would be acceptable to the American people to block Obama’s (a duly elected President’s) every move. From this perspective it follows that if the treason label fits anyone it is the Republicans who refuse to govern or to let anyone else govern even though, as I cannot stress enough, they lost in 2008 and 2012.

Obama saw a chance that his appointments might get through on a technicality so he took it. It was a gutsy move (and also not without precedent). This is the 21st century version of checks and balances; lots of checks, little balance. I, for one, hope the Supreme Court reverses the decision of that rather biased Circuit Court and allows the appointments to stand.

As for the obstructionist Republicans, well, the things they are doing to our first African-American president will be their legacy in the history books and the shame of it is something the party will have to live with forever, although forever may not end up lasting much longer. I find it embarrassing that people we trust to govern our country discuss and carry out such strategies to thwart this President for reasons that they will someday admit were wrong-headed and backward.