May 20, 2014

Mismanager-in-Chief

The President has long had trouble working with Congress to create bipartisan solutions to the nation’s problems. In a failed attempt to fix the health care in this country, he passed Obamacare without a single Republican vote. He promised in his state of the union to use executive actions in place of legislation to advance his agenda.

The Associated Press reports that President Obama is building an administrative team heavier on management skills than political or legislative skills. The president is signaling that he’s just about given up on working with Congress to lead this country and is moving further toward unilateral administrative action. The Administration even asked Democrats on the hill not what legislation he could work on with them, but what executive orders they would want to see to help them generate excitement in the upcoming midterm election.

But the new focus on management isn’t unnecessary.

Anything large is inherently difficult to manage, but while this Administration has grown the government at the most rapid rate in nearly half a century, the executive branch has sorely failed to manage what it was charged with and what it built.

Though egregious delays in the Veterans Administration have reportedly existed for years, and while administration officials said that the Obama-Biden transition team learned about the VA delays in 2008, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the President learned about the scandal from a recent CNN report. Either someone isn’t telling the truth, or the President’s transition team failed to tell the President about a horrible injustice being done to our veterans over the course of at least six years. Both cases would be examples of terrible mismanagement.

Then there’s the rollout of Obamacare. The President’s signature law was being built, rhetorically and practically, upon the assumption that the health exchanges would work. Regardless of all other critiques of the law, a malfunctioning exchange site would undoubtedly be a horrible blow. Yet after the disaster that was and is HealthCare.gov, where the back end of the site was still not working as of the end of April, the President didn’t know the site wasn’t up to snuff until after October 1, according to then Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.

It’s as if the President stumbled on the presidency and all the sudden realized there are all sorts of problems.

In past years the financial crisis brought us the idea of an organization being too big to fail. With government, we’re seeing something that is too big to work. The government now is attempting to do the impossible: trying to convince the American people that it should be trusted with more and more responsibility and power even while it fails to manage what it already has power over.

Good as the intentions of the myriad government programs may be, the years and decades of waste, fraud, abuse, scandal, ineptitude, and obscurity mean big government can’t be trusted with its good intentions. The executive branch will always need to manage something, but from the VA to Obamacare to the IRS and the DOJ, now is the time to demand that it mismanage less.