Friday, June 5, 2009

Car Czar, Cyber Czar, Pay Czar...Pay Czar??
Cacophony of Presidential Czars

Particularly since the new administration swept in, there has been a proliferation of "czars". (Here I thought czars were Russian Emperors. Senator John McCain clearly thought so too.)

We apparently have:

Cyberspace Czar (Melissa Hathaway, frontrunner)
Technology Czar (Vivek Kundra)
Drug Czar (Gil Kerlikowske )
Copyright Czar (I have no idea if anyone got appointed. Here's petitioning for one.)
Climate Czar (Carol Browner)
Car Czar (Steven Rattner)
Healthcare Czar (Nancy-Ann DeParle)
WMD Czar (Gary Samore)
Education Czar (Arne Duncan)
Economic Czar (Lawrence Summers)
Urban & Housing Czar (Adolfo Carrion Jr.)
Bailout Czar (Herb Allison)
Stimulus Accountability Czar (Earl Devaney)
U.S. Border Czar (Alan Bersin)
Regulatory Czar (Cas Sunstein)
Great Lakes Czar (Cameron Davis)
Middle East Czar (Dennis Ross)
Af-Pak Czar (Richard Holbrooke)
Bank Czar (American Bankers Association is currently fighting against it.)
Performance Czar (She had to withdraw because of some tax problem...)
Guantanamo closure Czar (Daniel Fried)

The latest? Pay Czar.

White House Set to Appoint a Pay Czar (6/5/09 Wall Street Journal):

"The Obama administration plans to appoint a "Special Master for Compensation" to ensure that companies receiving federal bailout funds are abiding by executive-pay guidelines, according to people familiar with the matter.

"The administration is expected to name Kenneth Feinberg, who oversaw the federal government's compensation fund for victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, to act as a pay czar for the Treasury Department, these people said."

The Pay Czar is going to make sure those pesky TARP recipients comply with the pay guidelines set out by the Treasury.

These "czars" are all appointed by the President and placed above Cabinet level agencies. They are not confirmed by Congress, nor answerable to Congress. Bloomberg News sees a potential not just for confusion but for a constitutional crisis (read the article here).

(Who's paying their salaries?)

So what's next? Credit Card Czar, Insurance Czar, Junk Food Czar, Organic Food Czar, Arts Czar (I've seen the petition for this)? If Great Lakes can have a czar, why not Yosemite? Monterrey Bay?

Is there any area of our private life left, without being watched by the Czars?


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