Politics

Obama talks bureaucratic revamp amid domestic, international crises

Neil Munro White House Correspondent

President Barack Obama tried Thursday to tout his management of the federal government, even as his deputies are rolling back two critical portions of the Obamacare law, and are fending off a growing outcry over Internal Revenue Service targeting of conservative political groups.

“We’ve made huge swaths of your government more efficient, and more transparent, and more accountable than ever before,” he said in a lackluster appearance at the White House.

Obama’s July 8 promise of management reforms came three days after the Treasury Department announced it would drop anti-fraud steps when awarding Obamacare subsidies, and six days after the department told companies they would have a year extra to report which of their employees are eligible for the subsidies.

Obama did not mention these two large-scale management problems.

The midday press event drew jeers from GOP commentators.

The “remarks [were] not televised because we’ve heard it all before,” said Rory Cooper,a spokesman for Rep. Eric Cantor, the GOP’s majority leader in the House.

The event was so low-profile that Obama’s media managers didn’t have a stage behind the president to humanize the claimed achievements.

It was so undramatic that Obama’s managers excluded most reporters from the event. His short statement was covered by the media pool, leaving other White House reporters to monitor his statement via the Internet, and unable to ask any questions.

Obama’s speech excluded mention of the Egypt crisis, the IRS targeting and the management errors that left the Benghazi diplomatic site exposed to a jihad attack in September 2012.

Also, there was no mention of immigration, even though Obama is pushing a proposed expansion of immigration that might require a massive anti-fraud effort to prevent a new wave of illegal immigrants claim they qualify for legalization.

Instead, he talked about efforts to rationalize federal computer-spending programs, the federal government’s use of overhead photographs to speed the distribution of disaster aid, the award of more federal contracts to small-scale business and the release of many government databases to for-profit companies.

“For the first time in history, we’ve opened up huge amount of government data to the American people, and put it on the Internet for free,” he said. “At Data.gov, you can search through more than 75,000 data sets” about such subjects as hospital complaints and weather reports, he said.

The information is the “people’s data,” he said.

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