No way to run a government

NO WAY TO RUN A GOVERNMENT…. At yesterday’s White House press conference, Bloomberg reporter Hans Nichols asked President Obama about the likelihood of appointing Elizabeth Warren to the new consumer financial protection bureau. The president certainly seemed to be leaning in that direction. Nichols followed up, asking if Obama’s concerned about the Senate confirmation process.

“I’m concerned about all Senate confirmations these days,” the president responded. When the reporter chuckled, Obama added, “Hans, I wasn’t trying to be funny. I am concerned about all Senate nominations these days.”

With that in mind, the New York Times reported today that “an array of top jobs” in the administration, all related to the economy, “remain unfilled.”

In some cases, the president has put forward names that have not been acted on. For example, the Federal Reserve’s board of governors, which is considering additional steps to prop up the flagging recovery, has just four of its full complement of seven members. The Senate has yet to confirm three candidates Mr. Obama nominated in April to fill the vacancies. […]

Other jobs already exist but have not been permanently filled.

They include director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and will be pivotal in shaping the future of homeownership policy, and comptroller of the currency, a position that dates to the Civil War and that supervises nationally chartered banks, including Bank of America and Citigroup.

Ordinarily, at this point in a presidency, some of the officials who filled key administrative positions would be getting ready to move on to other jobs, to be replaced by new officials. But thanks to Republican abuses and the dysfunctional system, many key posts, including those related to economic policy, were never filled in the first place.

Paul Volcker asked earlier this year, “How can we run a government in the middle of a financial crisis without doing the ordinary, garden-variety administrative work of filling the relevant agencies?”

That need not be a rhetorical question.