Thursday, April 4, 2013

Executive Incompetence

Today, we nominate Time Magazine columnist Joe Klein for the Now They Tell Us Award.

Klein reports that the Obama administration has been failing at the task of governance. Taxing President Obama with incompetence Klein explains that, under his leadership, the government has failed at implementing programs.

Considering that Barack Obama came to the presidency without any executive experience, this should surprise no one. It would be a better world if media stars had pointed out Obama’s incompetence when we could have done something about it.

Anyway, Klein points out correctly that the Kathleen Sebelius-led Department of Health and Human Services is not up to the job of implementing Obamacare.

Klein reports on its manifest incompetence:

Let me try to understand this: the key incentive for small businesses to support Obamacare was that they would be able to shop for the best deals in health care superstores — called exchanges. The Administration has had three years to set up these exchanges. It has failed to do so.

This is a really bad sign. There will be those who argue that it’s not the Administration’s fault. It’s the fault of the 33 states that have refused to set up their own exchanges. Nonsense. Where was the contingency planning? There certainly are models, after all — the federal government’s own health-benefits plan (FEHBP) operates markets that exist in all 50 states. So does Medicare Advantage. But now, the Obama Administration has announced that it won’t have the exchanges ready in time, that small businesses will be offered one choice for the time being — for a year, at least.

Since Obamacare is the president’s signature accomplishment, making it work must be a top priority. It is altogether possible, as some have suggested, that it will become Obama’s Iraq War.

Since the Republican Party was hurt by its failure to conduct a successful military operation, it makes sense that the big government Democratic Party would be undermined by its failure to run the government.

In Klein’s words:

But, as a Democrat — as someone who believes in activist government — he has a vested interest in seeing that federal programs actually work efficiently. I don’t see much evidence that this is anywhere near the top of his priorities.

It is not just about Obamacare. Klein expands the list:

But we are now seeing weekly examples of this Administration’s inability to govern. Just a few weeks ago, I reported on the failure of the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs to come up with a unified electronic health care records system. There has also been the studied inattention to the myriad ineffective job-training programs scattered through the bureaucracy. There have been the oblique and belated efforts to reform Head Start, a $7 billion program that a study conducted by its own bureaucracy — the Department of Health and Human Services — has found nearly worthless. The list is endless.

Of course, it isn’t news that the Head Start program is worthless. And yet, it is impossible to criticize because it is so easy to demagogue. What politician wants to take a stand against helping young children to learn?

One doubts that Republicans are going to heed his counsel, but Klein's advice makes sense. Instead of trying to shrink the government they should emphasize making it work better. Of course, a government that works better would more easily shed worthless and inefficient programs. 


vanderleun said...

"that small businesses will be offered one choice for the time being — for a year, at least."

Looks incompetent unless giving them only one "choice" was and is always the plan.

With this group, never think incompetence when you can think "malice."

Dennis said...

I have to agree with vanderluen. Obamacare was NOT suppose to succeed. Its complexity was mean to convince people that they needed a single payer program with, of course, the government as the payer.
If one analyzes most of Obamacare one sees that very large segments of it could have been made easier. How about giving people vouchers and let them select their healthcare?
If one truly wants to control people what better program than to control their healthcare. When somebody else is paying for your healthcare they have a right, through their elected representatives, to have input into what you are allowed and not allowed to do. Healthcare is the new Interstate Commerce Clause. It will be stretched to apply to almost any desire that those in power want. Should Congress insinuate itself into the firing of a Rutger's coach? Are sports too dangerous for those who play them. Doesn't the Second Amendment have possible healthcare ramifications? The list is endless.
Is one going to challenge the government when they can take so much of what it takes for one to live? Many of us stated that abortion would inexorably lead to infanticide, but no one could even consider that other human beings would resort to such things. Cut to a representative of Planned Parenthood trying to justify the killing of survivors of botched abortions or commonly called infanticide.
Again, Obamacare was NEVER expected to succeed.

Sam L. said...

They do incompetence, because they have no idea what to do. I favor shrinking government because then we have fewer agencies to track for competence. And then they might be able to demonstrate competence without so much deadwood, parasites, and leeches.

So: OCare. 2700 pages of a bill presents just so many opportunities to insert payoffs, screw-ups, earmarks, opportunities for corruption and cross-purposes.

Duplication of effort occurs across the government agencies. Shrinkage is necessary.

n.n said...

His "signature accomplishment" does not address progressive inflation, or increasing supply to meet demand.

His great achievement was a popular deception. He promised people instant gratification which cannot be reasonably satisfied within the constraints of reality.

I am especially fond of his foreign policy through regime change. So far, the world is unimpressed, but anxious. Witness: North Korea.

Is he merely a typical politician or something special?

Obama is an opportunist, which is not a rare political trait, but he does exhibit a progressive form of this character flaw. He promises everyone a pot of gold and a beachfront property in Hawaii, which he cannot fulfill, and his actions suggest that his lies cause him no discomfort.

To be fair, people should comprehend the inviolable constraints which reality imposes. That Obama exploits their dreams of instant gratification, does not excuse them from dwelling in their delusions.

Anyway, Obamacare was about three things. First, about purchasing votes. Second, about removing capital from the economy. Third, about undermining competing interests.

That said, the problems are systemic, and a product of centralization. While central governance may potentially be more efficient, it is also less robust than distributed governance. Also, as people accrete capital and power, they experience dissociation of risk, which is a principal cause of corruption.

The Founders recognized this problem. They provided good guidance to control its progress. We ignore their wisdom at our perile.