Mistaking a Nomination for an Appointment

Katrina vanden Heuvel set off the twitters with this:

WH (& others) indicate Elizabeth Warren 2 be nominated next week to head Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Kudos 2 all who worked 4 her.

While I agree with vanden Heuvel that those who have worked thus far to make sure Warren gets the position deserve kudos, they don’t, IMO, deserve a celebration, yet.

After all, given what happened with Dawn Johnsen, a rumored nomination is a long shot from getting the position. Especially in the wake of Obama’s recess appointment of Donald Berwick to run Medicare, ostensibly because the health care reform bill presented some urgency that necessitated a recess appointment.

How is fixing our financial system less of an emergency? How, given the number of people still underwater on their mortgages, is this not critically urgent?

And anyone celebrating anything less than Warren in the position is accepting less than the Administration can give, on its own.

According to the bill’s language, the Treasury Secretary has sole authority to build the new agency before it’s ultimately transferred to the Federal Reserve. That includes anointing a person to head the effort on his behalf, and under his authority. The interim head would serve until the President’s nominee is confirmed by the Senate.

That person could be Elizabeth Warren.

And the legislation doesn’t appear to contain a deadline for a Presidential nomination, experts say, which means Warren could start the agency from scratch, put her people in, begin cracking down on predatory and abusive lenders, and initiate a culture that would put consumers’ interests above those of the nation’s most powerful financial institutions.

In short, she could set a tone the agency will follow for the next several years without the administration needing to fight a potentially drawn-out confirmation battle that could stall Obama’s pro-consumer agenda.

Sure, Liz Warren’s appointment might excite a bunch of people in the middle class heading into mid-terms, even as it pisses off the much less numerous bankster class. Even assuming giving the middle class something to be happy about is a bad thing politically, why would incumbency be one?

The Administration can put Liz Warren on the job, today, to deal with the emergency of the ongoing abuse of real people by the banksters. Or, the Administration can decide doing that is not all that important, and it has the time to wait for the do-nothing Senate to take action.

But I would submit that rumors of a nomination are no cause for celebration when we know nothing is preventing the Administration from putting Warren in the position, today. Because anything short of an outright appointment–particularly given the rumors that suggest the WH agrees Warren is the best person for the job–is simply dismissing the urgency of the ongoing financial crisis for the middle class.

Another Obama Recess Appointment For Someone Not Named Johnsen

President Obama has announced yet another recess appointment; the courtesy and propriety that he would not give to Dawn Johnsen:

President Barack Obama, frustrated by Republican obstruction of key administration staffing appointments, will use his power to appoint his pick to run Medicare and Medicaid while the U.S. Congress is in recess, the White House said on Tuesday.

Obama will make the appointment on Wednesday of Dr. Donald Berwick, a healthcare expert he nominated in April to run the vast federal medical programs for poor and elderly Americans, according to White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer.

Obama has found the inner spine to recess appoint NLRB member Craig Becker along with 14 other people to a variety of positions from the DOJ to Treasury Department, has stated he will do so for militarized spook James Clapper (who neither side seems to like), and now Donald Berwick.

Obama seems to consider Berwick critical:

Berwick’s appointment as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) place him at the heart of Obama’s historic healthcare reform, and the role was too vital to leave unfilled, Pfeiffer said.

“CMS has been without a permanent administrator since 2006, and even many Republicans have called on the Administration to move to quickly to name a permanent head,” he said.

Dan Pfeiffer and the White House are full of dung. If “many Republicans” were clamoring for his nominee, even a couple in the Senate, he would not need to recess appoint. What is truly stunning though is that Obama considers this position critical, but not the head of the Office of Legal Counsel, the body that is supposed to be the legal conscience of an administration. Equally galling is the fact the White House trots out the excuse that “CMS has been without a permanent administrator since 2006”. Four years is too long for CMS, but six years is no problem for the critical Office of Legal Counsel? Really?

As I have repeatedly explained and demonstrated with facts and evidence, Barack Obama had 60 votes for confirmation of Dawn Johnsen to head OLC for the entire second half of last year and sat on her nomination, refusing to even call a vote. The fact that Obama flat out refused to even consider a recess nomination for Dawn Johnsen to an office dying for real leadership, and that he will use the recess appointment power anywhere and everywhere else, ought to be proof to any doubters that the sole reason Dawn Johnsen is not leading the OLC is because Barack Obama did not want her there.

For a President intent on granting retroactive FISA immunity to criminally complicit telecoms, asserting endless claims of “state secrecy” to cover up crimes of the Bush/Cheney Administration, suppressing torture photos, tapes and evidence, ordering the indefinite detentions without trial or due process and ordering the extra-judicial assassination of remote targets (including American citizens), well I guess a person of Dawn Johnsen’s morals and ethics indeed might not be convenient. Even given that, why did the White House engage in such crass duplicity with the country and hang Dawn Johnsen out to dry for so long? Why won’t anybody ask that question of them and demand a legitimate answer?