Barbara O’Brien tells us what’s behind Pres. Obama’s recess appointments, and why Republican claims that Obama is “usurping his authority” are misleading, to say the least:
The White House goes on offense — the recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has the righties shrieking about unprecedented usurpation of presidential authority. If you have a dim memory of Junior Bush making recess appointments — yes, he made 171, according to Wikipedia. And presidents have been making recess appointments since there have been, well, presidents.
The catch is that this Congress — or the Republicans in Congress, anyway — attempted to block recess appointments by refusing to recess. That is, they’ve used “pro forma” sessions to keep Congress officially in session despite the fact that nearly all of the senators and representatives actually had gone home.
This move by congressional Republicans is, in fact, a radical usurpation of power, as Ezra Klein explains. Specifically, Congress is attempting to “nullify” the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as well as the National Labor Relations Board by blocking the appointments of personnel critical for those agencies to function. Without the appointments, no CFPB and no NLRB. Republicans don’t have the votes to actually dismantle those bureaus, so instead they are attempting to cancel them through other maneuvers.
So it’s actually congressional Republicans who are trampling all over constitutional separation of powers and overreaching their legal authority. But since the victim complexes of wingnuts know no bounds, in their tiny little minds it is the president who is overreaching and trampling on their gawd-given write to use the constitution as toilet paper.