- The Washington Times - Monday, June 15, 2009


President Obama has beaten the old Russian empire in naming to his administration “czars,” who operate with no congressional oversight.

When Kenneth Feinberg, the White House’s new “pay czar,” was appointed to control compensation for bailed-out companies, he followed a long list of others chosen to exercise authority over their respective issue areas and report directly to the president without any approval or vetting from Capitol Hill.

Former Republican presidential candidate John McCain recently wrote on Twitter, “Obama has more czars than the Romanovs.”

He wasn’t joking.

The Russian royal family had 18 czars during its reign until the dynasty was deposed by the communists in 1917. Mr. Obama has named more than 20.

Mr. Obama’s czars include: AIDS czar Jeffrey Crowley, auto recovery czar Ed Montgomery, border czar Alan Bersin, drug czar R. Gil Kerlikowske, economy czar Paul Volcker, energy czar Carol Browner, faith-based initiative czar Joshua DuBois, green jobs czar Van Jones, Great Lakes czar Cameron Davis, Guantanamo Bay czar Danny Fried and health czar Nancy-Ann DeParle.

Also holding “czar” status are Vivek Kundra (information), Dennis C. Blair (intelligence), Cass Sunstein (regulation), John Holdren (science), Earl Devaney (stimulus), Herb Alison (Troubled Asset Relief Program), Aneesh Chopra (technology), John Brennan (terrorism), Adolfo Carrion Jr. (urban affairs), Ashton Carter (weapons) and Gary Samore (weapons of mass destruction).

Mr. Obama’s critics worry that empowering the czars is an under-the-radar way of expanding executive power and enacting liberal policies to target wealthy Americans and businesses.

“Hopefully, Obama’s obsession with class warfare and czars will end sometime before we all become peasants and he becomes the first American czar,” Dan Gainor, vice president of business and culture at the conservative-leaning Media Research Center, joked in a blog post. “The first Russian one, by the way, went down in history as Ivan the Terrible.”

Postponing reform

The White House has again delayed a strategy meeting with liberal allies on how to broach comprehensive immigration reform, and Helen Krieble wants an invitation.

The meeting, originally scheduled for June 8, was postponed to Tuesday. On Friday, the White House announced that it was being held off indefinitely. Immigration groups fear President Obama has too much on his plate with the economy, war, health care reform and other issues to make time for their issue.

Ms. Krieble, founder and president of the Vernon K. Krieble Foundation, said the problems associated with putting undocumented workers into an organized system could be ended easily if Mr. Obama was willing to listen to outside-the-box ideas.

“There are solutions to this whole thing if people will stop thinking ‘it’s Republican,’ ‘it’s Democratic,’ ‘it’s liberal’ or ‘it’s conservative,’ ” she said.

Spurred to action with the difficulties she faced in navigating immigration bureaucracies to hire people to work at the Colorado horse park that she owns, Ms. Krieble formulated what she calls the “Red Card Solution.” Her goal is to make it easier to hire guest workers in a legal manner using a smart card loaded with worker information such as photo identification and visa data.

Republicans and Democrats have criticized her in the past, mainly because her plan requires illegal immigrants to return to their home countries and pass background checks and health screenings to obtain the smart card and begin a path toward citizenship. Hard-line immigration hawks say this would reward illegal behavior, and open-borders advocates say it imposes too many barriers to undocumented workers.

Her plan gained some support among Republicans such as Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, but had difficulty gaining popular appeal. She’s renewing her efforts next week with a screening of a 24-minute documentary, “Red Card Solution,” on Capitol Hill and an event at the National Press Club. Mr. Pence is expected to introduce the plan again later this month in the House.

“Either we need foreign workers or we don’t,” Ms. Krieble said. “If we need them, let’s get them and let’s get qualified people.”

• Amanda Carpenter can be reached at [email protected] times.com.

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