President Barack Obama is engaged in an astonishing power grab. On Wednesday, he installed by "recess appointment" a person to head the extremely powerful new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau -- even though the Senate was not actually in recess.
Bloomberg News noted that the appointment "went beyond the power asserted by most previous administrations to install officials without Senate action."
Recess appointments let a president install -- temporarily -- people to certain positions without the normally required Senate confirmation. But Obama simply ignored the Senate, because Richard Cordray's nomination had previously gotten too few votes there to advance.
The bureau director will have nearly unchecked power to regulate a broad range of financial and consumer transactions. Congress will be essentially frozen out of any meaningful oversight.
No one individual is wise enough to wield the sort of power over the U.S. economy that the bureau's director will wield, and Republican U.S. Sen. Bob Corker of Chattanooga sharply criticized the president's decision to install Cordray.
"Instead of working in a productive way with Congress, the administration has chosen to undermine any attempt at bringing accountability and balance to the bureau," Corker, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, said in a news release. A "board-like structure and checks on rulemaking abilities" are needed to make sure the director "does not have unfettered power," he added.
Republican U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann of Chattanooga was equally alarmed.
"President Obama has shown complete disregard for checks and balances found within the Constitution ...," he said. "I cannot express enough how vehemently opposed I am to his actions of bypassing Congress, and his actions to continue creating a more obtrusive federal government."
Obama has shown again why he should be replaced in November.