Opinion
U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the White House Summit on Working Families in Washington June 23, 2014.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst    U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the White House Summit on Working Families in Washington June 23, 2014. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst   

Barack Obama, The Great Mismanager

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Thomas Schatz
President, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
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      Thomas Schatz

      Thomas A. Schatz is president of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and its lobbying affiliate, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW).

There have been several “great” U.S. presidents. For example, Abraham Lincoln was the Great Emancipator; Ronald Reagan was the Great Communicator.

Barack Obama is the Great Mismanager.

As the chief executive of the United States, the president is in charge of the federal government’s day-to-day activities. This task is generally unexciting and not discussed in the media or by ordinary citizens unless something goes wrong.

Some scandals have been festering for years across multiple presidencies, while others are self-inflicted. Some scandals, such as the healthcare.gov website, cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars; others, such as Benghazi, cost lives; and then there is the VA scandal, which cost both money and lives.

These problems have occurred because President Obama has no understanding of how to run a large organization and completely failed to make management a priority. He did not appoint competent individuals to run major government agencies. He has not coordinated management issues inside the White House or communicated on a regular basis with his cabinet, since he seems to only hear about problems in the news.

The president invariably talks about how much he cares, which in and of itself is emblematic of his incompetence. If he was truly empathetic, he would spend more time preventing and solving problems and less time talking about how he feels.

Unlike President Obama, President Reagan was quite clear about how he wanted the government to be run more effectively. He increased the number of inspectors general, set up three White House initiatives on management and efficiency, and established the President’s Private Sector Survey on Cost Control, better known as the Grace Commission. His executive orders implemented dozens of the commission’s recommendations and saved more than $100 billion. He included the commission’s recommendations in every annual budget and tracked their progress. He was the first (and only) president to submit an annual report on “Management of the United States Government” with his budget.

President Reagan believed that taking care of the taxpayers meant providing the government programs they truly needed at a reasonable cost. He recognized that government inefficiency produces “excessive costs, inadequate services, or both.” He described his management style as follows: “Surround yourself with great people; delegate authority; get out of the way.”

President Obama believes that taking care of the taxpayers means talking about how much he cares about their problems and that government programs should be funded regardless of cost, effectiveness, and results. If he submitted a publication similar to President Reagan’s, it would be titled, “Mismanagement of the United States Government.”