More Problems With The Appointment Process

Posted by | September 12, 2010 10:39 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

A few days ago, I blogged about the problem with judicial confirmations in the Senate.  Well there is also another confirmation crisis.  Appointments throughout the Obama Administration languish.

Delays in the appointment process — lengthened by Congressional brinksmanship and cumbersome vetting — are not new, and some choices have come quickly. On Friday, the president named Austan D. Goolsbee chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, filling a position that had just opened. But the confluence of vacancies in the economic realm comes at a time of regulatory transformation, a slowing economy and a Republican resurgence. (Mr. Goolsbee, who was previously confirmed as a member of the council, did not need a second Senate confirmation to become chairman.)

The prospect of Republicans making strong gains in Congress in November has complicated the appointment calculation, as nearly all of the unfilled jobs require Senate confirmation.

Unlike the judges (which I blame largely on the Republicans in the Senate), here there is plenty of blame to go around.  Certainly, the Republican obstructionists are blocking more than their share of nominees.  But the Obama Administration has also been very slow in sending nominees.

Finally there is a systemic problem. There is the fundamental question of why people take the jobs.  After seeing what Van Jones and Shirley Sherrod went through, why would anyone want the jobs?   Add the lengthy confirmation process to the possibility of humiliating publicity via the Internet and 24 hour news cycle, and you have the makings of a crisis in governance.

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Copyright 2010 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.

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