Today’s Public Policy article will focus on one of the ways, if I was the President, reform the Executive Branch. The key aspect of these reforms would be to do them through the legislative process as much as possible. It is the job of Congress to send the different parts of the reform to be approved by legislative means instead of by Executive fiat. Though if Congress should fail to act on such vital reforms to our bureaucracy I would use whatever constitutional authority granted to me to enact as many of these measures as possible.
Today’s part of the discussion focuses in the area of the executive branch known as the Executive Office of the President. Here is some background knowledge on this part of the government very few people know about.
The Executive Office of the President (EOP) was created in 1939 under the administration of President Roosevelt. The Reorganization Act of 1939 created it and is responsible for the modern White House staff that we see today in the modern presidency of advisers, councils, and czars (or special advisers). Prior to this law the President had very little staff to assist him with his work. Jefferson had a secretary and clerk that he paid for out of his own pocket. It was not until 1857 that the Congress appropriated money for any White House staff. Most of the parts of the EOP were created by public law or executive orders and have expanded since 1939 to the size we see today.
The EOP was a idea of the Brownlow Committee which gave three suggestions. First was the creation of aides to the President to help him with administrative tasks of the job. Secondly, it suggested that the President have direct control over any administrative departments (i.e. Department of State or Defense). Lastly, they suggested that the managerial offices of the Civil Service Administration, Bureau of the Budget, and the National Resources Board be part of the Executive Office. Two of these three suggestions were incorporated into the final law. The law gave Roosevelt the authority to make changes to the various agencies and corporations within cabinet level departments. It also created six executive level assistance to the President.
The EOP Today
If you want to see the different agencies and advisory groups the President has at his disposal check out the White House website on the EOP. Most of these positions are appointed directly by the President but very few require confirmation by the Senate, which could be seen as a violation of the Constitution based on the powers laid out in Article II, Section 2, Clause 2:
he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
According to this part of the Constitution all appointed position must be approved of by public law, so these special advisers or czars must be passed into law by Congress and approved of by the President. Also they must all be confirmed by the Senate before taking office. We have removed a very important check and balance to our system by creating an office in which the President may appoint anyone he wishes without any Senatorial oversight. But I am getting off on a tangent.
The fact is that every President has added to this bureaucracy that is intended to help the President do his job of enforce the law. I am not sure exactly why he needs all these advisers to do that job, since its not a job that requires advice, just action. Their should be no debate on how a law should be enforced since the law should expressly say how it should be enforced and the punishments required. The fact is though that it needs to be parried back and restrained by the Constitution again.
Reforms to the EOP
The Executive Office of the President (EOP) has many councils that are to advise the President about how to form policy. But it is not the job of the President to form policy but to implement and enforce the policies passed by the Congress. To create policy as the President is to overreach his Constitutional powers as the chief law enforcement officer of the United States. Congress makes policy, the President enforces it and the courts interpret it in accordance to the Constitution; it is call the separation of powers.
Also, the President has access to a vast supply of resources and advice from people all over the globe and here in the United States when he requires advice. The following councils will be eliminated and may be replaced by a single advisor (if he so chooses to have such an advisor) appointed by the Present which would also requires Senate approval. All “czars” or special advisers must also be eliminated as well, unless they be approved by Senate confirmation. The only councils I would leave in the EOP would be the following and most would be consolidated into different executive departments.
National Security Council – This office would be left in place but joined together with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Its job is to inform and advice the President on national security and foreign policy matters. Since national security and defense is the job of the Department of Defense, it makes sense to consolidate this office within that department.
Office of Management and Budget – The job of this office is to help create the President’s federal budget and assist in managing the other parts of the executive departments. This part can stay but it must be staffed mostly by nonpolitical appointees. This office serves a vital purpose in the government in the creation of the budget.
Intelligence Advisory Board – This office “provides advice to the President concerning the quality and adequacy of intelligence collection, of analysis and estimates, of counterintelligence, and of other intelligence activities.” Under this guise it would be consolidated with the department of defense along with the National Security Council.
White House Office – This office would be severely limited because it is their to serve the interests and needs of the President. Their are a number of offices and agencies within it that I would also eliminate since they serve no constitutional purposes. I know many will hate me for this but the Office of the First Lady would be one since she has not constitutional role to play in the government and its not the job of the people of the United States to pay for her staff.
In part two of this, series of articles, I will address the reforms that I would make to the overall structure of the Executive Departments, like the Department of Defense and State.
Questions? Comments? Concerns? Class dismissed.