Same as the Old High

If Marx posited that religion is the opiate of the people, then we have reached a new, more clarifying moment in the history of the West: Opiates are now the religion of the people.

Andrew Sullivan

This is a plague ripping America apart from within, far greater public health crisis than AIDS ever was.

And the Presidential solution is to give it to his wife to manage.

Once again, the band plays on.

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Jonathan Tobin Talks Sense about the Budget Deal

“Ideologues Shouldn’t Torpedo Budget Truce”
Jonathan Tobin

Commentary
December 11, 2013

We are starting to see more common sense coming from my fellow conservatives, and Jonathan Tobin at Commentary offers yet another example of the growing ranks of Republicans who are tired of playing juvenile ideology games with the governance of the nation. In an emphatically worded article, Tobin puts the Tea Partistas on notice that blocking the budget deal would be unadulterated stupidity.

Many on the right are also denouncing Ryan’s deal not just because it doesn’t give them what they want on taxes and spending but because they don’t see the need to compromise at this moment. They see President Obama’s poll numbers falling and think the time is right to push hard again for the kind of reform that is needed, not an agreement that merely kicks the can down the road. But this is the same kind of faulty thinking from groups like Heritage Action and Freedom Works that led conservatives to shut down the government as part of a vain effort to defund ObamaCare. Apparently they’ve learned nothing from that debacle.

That Tobin would name names, calling out the hardliners and risking open schism on the right underscores that we are in the advanced stages of a battle for the soul – and the future – of the Republican Party. The time for juvenile procedural games and emotional non-cooperation are over. Instead, it is time we won with ideas, intelligence, and logic.

Equally important, as Tobin points out, there comes a time in every debate where we have to compromise in order to allow the country to move forward, if nothing else to buy time until we have the legislative wherewithal to offer our own solutions (assuming we have some by then.) The country comes before our ideologies. Anyone who debates that is less a leader than a demagogue.

Leadership vs. The Bureaucracy

Obama: ACA Rollout Doesn’t Reflect on Management Style”
Sophie Novack

NationalJournal.com
December 6, 2013

English: Kathleen Sebelius speaking after her ...
Kathleen Sebelius speaking after her official nomination as Secretary of Health and Human Services. President Barack Obama is standing behind Sebelius (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Pacific Bull Moose endeavors to refrain from gratuitous displays of partisanship. We prefer to eschew tossing spitballs across the aisle, choosing instead to develop principles upon which the nation should be governed, approaches to its challenges, and policies rooted in both.

Presidents Lead the Government

President Obama’s remarks to Chris Matthews on the matter of his management style deserve a response, but ours is aimed less at POTUS than at a principle.

As the National Review notes:

“President Obama said Thursday that the problems that have plagued the first couple months of the health care law rollout are not an indication that he needs to change his management style, Politico reports.

Obama instead pointed to larger issues with the federal bureaucracy.”

As a matter of principle, POTUS is being disingenuous. Anyone who has taken a high school civics class can tell you that the President sits at the head of the bureaucracy. His constitutional role is to lead the executive branch of government, which includes the bureaucracy. An inability to lead the apparatus of government, to implement programs, is, prima facie, a management problem.

Implementation issues come part-and-parcel with any effort to bring about major change, and they have dogged every modern president for the past century. Dealing with the inertia of large bureaucracies comes with the job of President of the United States along with the house, the plane, the salary, and the benefits.

Bureaucracies do Stink, Regardless of Size

At the same time, those of my fellow Republicans who would jump on this issue and suggest that the president’s lament is a proof point for small government had best hold their horses. The problem here is not size, it is effectiveness.

Management guru Tom Peters once noted that “any organization larger than five people is a hopeless bureaucracy.” Big organizations come with big jobs. The question is whether those organizations are properly constructed, staffed, budgeted, and led to make them effective and efficient at those jobs.

Where the Buck Stops

Giving President Obama the benefit of the doubt, it is entirely likely that the Department of Health and Human Services is not properly constructed, staffed, budgeted, and led to enable it to effectively and efficiently implement the Affordable Care Act. But if that is the case, the failure still lands on the White House for not seeing – and adjusting – to that.

A fish stinks from the head, as my father once told me. We hold CEOs and boards to credit for the successes of their companies, and we hold them accountable for their failures. We do the same for leaders of non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, sports teams, and vessels at sea. The same is true for the Executive Branch of government

No sitting President of the United States, Republican or Democrat, can dodge responsibility for the actions and behavior of the constituent parts of the government. Harry Truman, a Democrat like Mr. Obama, understood as much, and made it a mantra of his administration rather than resort to blaming a bureaucracy largely created by and for his predecessor.

A Quick Thought on Healthcare

Responsibility for pensions and healthcare need to be taken away from employers. There is no logical reason to place companies in charge of social welfare when we no longer stay with a job for our lifetimes. It is an unfair, cumbersome burden to employers, especially those of us trying to run a small business.

We should not forget that the only reason companies are saddled with this burden today was that in the wake of World War II, a small number of very large companies decided that it would be better for companies to control the social welfare of their employees than allow unions to do so. Whatever the logic behind that approach may have been, the result has been nightmare and expense for businesses of all sizes ever since.

The system must change, if for no other reason than to ease the burden on industry and help make us competitive again. Whether Obamacare is the answer, part of the answer, or a flat-out run in the wrong direction is unclear, and has been muddied by hyperbolic promises made by its supporters and Cassandra-like prognostications made by its detractors, none of whom are left with much credibility.

What is clear is that many of us are growing weary of the debate and would like to give the initiative a chance to succeed or fail on its own merits in execution. If it fails, kill it. If it succeeds without bankrupting the nation, keep it, and let companies get out of the social welfare business.

But even that is not enough. Fixing medical care is not a matter of a single silver bullet, regardless of the Obama administration’s lofty ambitions. It is going to be a long, incremental process rather than a Big Bang, and the sooner we can begin isolating or co-opting the special interests who are blocking the process, the sooner we can go about creating a healthcare system of which all Americans can be justly proud, and from which all of us can benefit.