The Corner

Remember, Congress, You’re the First Branch

We are assured by the MSM that Alan Krueger, the Princeton professor whom President Obama has nominated to chair the White House Council of Economic Advisers, is not controversial. Well, Congress should be the judge of that.  

But in the meantime, the Los Angeles Times reports that the administration expects Krueger to be “confirmed quickly” by a sometimes filibuster-minded U.S. Senate. Indeed, The Daily Beast launched a preemptive strike on the idea that Krueger ever even could be controversial. Describing the role that Krueger would play as the Obama White House gears up for the 2012 reelection campaign, the Beast’s Zachary Karabell tells us, “It looks as though Krueger will be left to mind the store, with integrity and intelligence but little in the way of influence.” Got that? Nothing to see here folks, is the message, just move along. 

Yet as Lieutenant Columbo would say on the ’70s crime show, “Just one more thing.” Or maybe several more things. The Republican National Committee’s Joe Pounder recalled a statement from Krueger’s 2009–10 stint as assistant secretary of the Treasury in which he declared, “The proposed cap-and-trade program holds the promise of creating new industries and jobs.”  

Mercifully, cap-and-trade never emerged from Congress, but if it had, unemployment would be a lot higher than it is now. Any comment on those words now, Professor Krueger? 

Come to think of it, Krueger was involved in all the economic policies of the Obama administration in those days, including the notorious “cash for clunkers” program. Meanwhile, Americans for Tax Reform remembers that Krueger has also supported a consumption tax, or VAT. So what will Krueger tell the Senate about his time with Larry Summers, Steve Rattner, Ron Bloom, and all the rest? 

Indeed, prior to his years with the Obama administration, Krueger was best known for his work on the minimum wage; as Carrie Lukas has noted on NRO, back in the ’90s he tortured the statistics sufficiently to make them “confess” to showing that a higher minimum wage would actually increase employment. Does Krueger still stand by that work? And if so, what does that suggest to us about future labor policy in the Obama administration? 

Yup, plenty of good questions for Professor Krueger to be asked before the Senate even thinks of elevating him to be Chairman Krueger. The political media might be focused on the presidential race, but there’s still some governance — or misgovernment — to be covered. And the same holds true for congressional oversight, on top of the advise-and-consent process. Plenty of rocks to be overturned — Darrel Issa needs reinforcement.

For example, why does James Hansen still have a job? Hansen, of course, is the highly paid  NASA scientist who seems to have few formal duties other than telling the world that the sky will fall if we don’t cut way back on carbon emissions. Just on Monday, he chose to get himself arrested in front of the White House to protest a possible U.S.-Canada pipeline project. Uh, Dr. Hansen, aren’t we getting a little far afield from space exploration here? But Bloomberg News tells us that Hansen took a vacation day — which should tell us that Congress needs to review not only the line-item for Hansen’s salary, but also federal personal-leave policy. 

And all this time, we thought that NASA was supposed to be focused on Muslim outreach.    

The Republican-controlled House might not get a vote on Alan Krueger, but the House can still vote on Hansen, as part of a larger effort of shutting the spigot that has, according to the Science & Public Policy Institute, gushed out $79 billion for “climate change” research over the last two decades. 

Remember, Congress, you’re the first branch of the federal government listed in the Constitution. Yes, the three branches are equal — but you’re, literally, first among equals. And with that power comes responsibility to do everything possible, now, to rein in the Obama administration. The voters will get their chance in 15 months, but more congressional assertiveness is needed, now.

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