Obama’s recess appointment of Richard Cordray to the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau correctly is portrayed as a naked power grab.
First, the Senate is not in recess. Harry Reid and other Democrats in the past treated the current Senate pro forma business status as not being in recess.
Second, the Dodd-Frank legislation which created the position Cordray will fill specifically requires Senate confirmation. A recess appointment is not confirmation under any scenario.
According to Greg Sargent, Obama has more recess appointments lined up for the NLRB.
So are the appointments really the issue? In part, yes, but they are just the excuse. Obama’s campaign theme is to run against Congress. What better way to run against Congress than to create a confrontation with Congress?
Republicans in Congress have no choice but to retaliate against this power grab, and that is just what Obama wants. He wants a crisis he can take advantage of, perhaps over the FICA holiday which runs out in February (how smart were the Tea Party congressman for opposing a short term extension?).
Obama was elected by crisis, he seeks to create crisis at every turn, and he never lets a good crisis go to waste.
I say give him the crisis, but do it carefully so that this time we are the ones who get to take advantage. We have a President who is arrogant, dismissive, and out of control, the nation knows it. It has to stop, and it sets the issue up nicely for November 2012.
Update: Heritage Foundation has a good explanation of why the Senate is using the pro forma session — it’s a constitutional requirement because the House has not consented to the Senate going into recess for more than three days.