February 28, 2009

FURTHER OUT OVER HIS OWN SKIIS THAN EDDIE THE EAGLE:

Vacancies abound in crucial US posts: Obama vetting policy slows appointments (Farah Stockman and Bryan Bender, February 27, 2009, Boston Globe)

Only about 70 people have been formally nominated to fill the roughly 500 senior posts in the Defense, State, Treasury, and Education departments and dozens of other government agencies, according to White House records. Dozens of nominations are still pending as FBI and White House officials scrub potential nominees' tax returns, financial ties, and former activities in government.

It is not unusual for a new administration to take several months to fill political slots, but the absence of senior officials has been felt more keenly under Obama, who is vowing to quickly disburse a $787 billion stimulus package, revamp education and healthcare, and tackle two ongoing wars.

"It is extraordinarily unusual to have something like this stimulus package" this early in an administration, said Joel D. Aberbach, director of the Center for American Politics and Public Policy at the University of California at Los Angeles. "There has been this big expansion of mission in some areas, so that may exacerbate the consequences of appointments taking awhile."

The situation, which some say is tying up the administration's agenda, was spotlighted yesterday when White House economic adviser Paul Volcker called the absence of senior Treasury officials "shameful."

"The Secretary of the Treasury is sitting there without a deputy, without any undersecretaries, without any, as far as I know, assistant secretaries responsible in substantive areas at a time of very severe crisis," Volcker told a Joint Economic Committee hearing on Capitol Hill. "He shouldn't be sitting there alone."

"You can't be the leading economic power in the world with all the problems we have and have a weak Treasury," he added.


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Posted by Orrin Judd at February 28, 2009 5:56 PM
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