The Edmond Sun

Opinion

November 8, 2013

Where does the buck stop?

EDMOND — Harry Truman made the phrase “The buck stops here” iconic during his presidency. He had a  desk plate with the saying displayed prominently. Unusual for a politician as president, he believed he was ultimately responsible for actions by his administration.

He made tough decisions regardless of political consequence. At the end of WWII he ordered the dropping of the atomic bombs to end the war and during the Korean War he fired an American hero and popular General, Douglas MacArthur.

He said the decisions were his alone. Where is that accountability today? Where are the Truman’s? Sadly, among our leaders in Washington, finger-pointing is the norm blaming each other without owning any decision. According to that logic nobody is responsible for anything. Their desk plates would read, “The buck doesn’t stop here.” Politics controls actions. This inhibits sorely needed leadership.

President Obama has repeatedly said the buck stops with him on the Affordable Healthcare Act and other issues. But no one seems able to tell him, or he hasn’t asked which buck. Now on most issues in controversy the White House says they didn’t know. There is no buck stopping here. Over the course of the year, with Benghazi, NSA, Syria, shutdown and this latest crisis, the president’s approval rating is down from a high of 54 percent to 42 percent. Congress fairs far worse at 17 percent approval.

 The rollout of Obamacare is an unmitigated disaster for the program and politically for the White House. This is the president’s signature legislation. People are in need of affordable healthcare.

But, who is in charge? After three and a half years the launch has been an embarrassment to the White House. The White House, The Secretary of Health and Human Services and three agencies worked on this.

But no coordination seemed to exist. No one in the administration has owned-up to responsibility for this catastrophe until Secretary Sebelius testified before a House committee. But falling on her sword, it appears late in the game. Didn’t the president or his closet advisors or agency heads know of the shortfalls? They should have.

If they did, they should have acted on the information. This indicates a major breakdown in oversight that is inexcusable. The White House has given Republicans more than enough reason to go after the program.

However, as for Congressional action, the House passed 42 bills to repeal the legislation yet none to try to amend or fix it. There have been hearings before Congress for three years on the Act. No hard questions were asked in these hearings and basically the agendas were focused on other matters basically driven by partisanship.

Heads need to roll and the president needs to be more engaged in making this right. Otherwise the program may suffer irreparable damage and fail altogether primarily because American people are losing confidence in it.

But they are also losing confidence in their government. This is the greater risk. In crisis management 101, the president would take the bull by the horns, hold people accountable, modify the program and look at reforms.

Politics cloud the issues.

Compare the response of the government to the situation with rollout to the private sector. Contractors say over $400 million of taxpayer dollars were spent on this failed launched website.

Secretary Sebelius says $176 million spent but still way too much with costs mounting to fix the system. No one will speak to the real cost.

Taxpayers are then like shareholders. Their investment is being wasted due to mismanagement. The board of any company and its shareholders would demand immediate action, accountability, and hold the highest officers responsible.

“The buck stops here” means you are responsible if you knew or should have known. No less. But in Washington, millions can be wasted and no one will pay a price except the American taxpayers.

Shame on Congress and the administration. Alone this year in the Obamacare launch and shutdown they wasted more money than they would ever admit then blame each other in political jockeying.

The travesty in government is that no one steps up. The shutdown and debt ceiling crisis cost the economy tens of billions, threatened the AAA credit rating of the U.S. and hurt Americans.

But no one owns that. It was a political stunt and that is the new name of the game. As citizens we should be outraged. The price is paid by the people for irresponsibility. We should demand much better in the strongest democracy in the world.

There is a real problem with leadership across the board. The president’s young team is astute at campaigning, not governing. Congress rates no better. Speak out with your vote and voice. The buck now stops with us.

PHIL BUSEY is chairman and CEO of The Busey Group of Companies in Oklahoma City.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Sheltons travel for better life for family

    Some time around 1865 a mixed-race African American couple, William and Mary Shelton, made their way from Mississippi to east Texas. Nothing is known for certain of their origins in he Magnolia state, or the circumstances under which they began their new lives in Texas.

    July 29, 2014

  • Film critic Turan produces book

    Kenneth Turan, who is the film critic for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” has written a book “Not to be Missed, Fifty-Four Favorites from a Life Time of Film.” His list of movies span the gamut from the beginnings of filmmaking through the present day.
    There are some surprising omissions on his list. While he includes two films, “A Touch of Evil” and Chimes at Midnight” made by Orson Welles, and one, “The Third Man,” that Welles starred in but did not direct. He did not however, include “Citizen Kane,” that was the first movie Welles made, that is  often cited by both film critics and historians as a favorite film.

    July 28, 2014

  • Logan County’s disputed zone

    Watchers of “Star Trek” may recall the episode from the original series entitled, “Day of the Dove.” In this episode, Captain Kirk and his crew are forced by a series of circumstances into a confrontation with the Klingons. The conflict eventually resolves after Kirk realizes that the circumstances have been intentionally designed by an alien force which feeds off negative emotions, especially fear and anger. Kirk and his crew communicate this fact to the Klingons and the conflict subsides. No longer feeding upon confrontation, the alien force is weakened and successfully driven away.

    July 28, 2014

  • Russell leads in Sun poll

    Polling results of an unscientific poll at www.edmondsun.com show that Steve Russell, GOP candidate for the 5th District congressional seat, is in the lead with 57 percent of the vote ahead of the Aug. 26 runoff election. Thirty readers participated in the online poll.

    July 28, 2014

  • Healthier and Wealthier? Not in Oklahoma

    Increased copays, decreased coverage, diminished health care access, reduced provider budgets and increased frustration are all the outcomes of the Legislature’s 2014 health care funding decisions. Unlike some years in the past when a languishing state economy forced legislators into making cuts, the undesirable outcomes this year could easily have been avoided.

    July 26, 2014

  • Medicaid reform a necessity

    Historically, education spending by the state of Oklahoma has been the largest budget item. This is no longer the case. In recent years, the state of Oklahoma spends more on Medicaid (operated by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority) than common education and higher education combined, according to the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

    July 25, 2014

  • Remembering lessons from 1974

    This week marks the 40th anniversary of an important milestone in America’s constitutional history. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court voted 8-0 to order the Nixon White House to turn over audiotapes that would prove the president and his close aides were guilty of criminal violations. This ruling established with crystal clarity that the executive branch could not hide behind the shield of executive privilege to protect itself from the consequences of illegal behavior. It was a triumph for the continued vitality of our constitutional form of government.

    July 25, 2014

  • RedBlueAmerica: Is parenting being criminalized in America?

    Debra Harrell was arrested recently after the McDonald’s employee let her daughter spend the day playing in a nearby park while she worked her shift. The South Carolina woman says her daughter had a cell phone in case of danger, and critics say that children once were given the independence to spend a few unsupervised hours in a park.
    Is it a crime to parent “free-range” kids? Does Harrell deserve her problems? Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk, the RedBlueAmerica columnists, debate the issue.

    July 24, 2014

  • Technology that will stimulate journalism’s future is now here

    To say technology has changed the newspaper media industry is understating the obvious. While much discussion focuses on how we read the news, technology is changing the way we report the news. The image of a reporter showing up to a scene with a pen and a pad is iconic but lost to the vestiges of time.
    I am asked frequently about the future of newspapers and, in particular, what does a successful future look like. For journalists, to be successful is to command multiple technologies and share news with readers in new and exciting ways.

    July 23, 2014

  • New Orleans features its own “Running of the Bulls”

    On July12, the streets of the Warehouse District of New Orleans were filled with thousands of young men who were seeking to avoid being hit with plastic bats wielded by women on roller skates as part of the annual “Running of the Bulls” that takes place in New Orleans.
    The event is based on the “Running of the Bulls” that occurs in Pamplona, Spain, that is  part of an annual occurrence in which a group of bulls rampage through the streets of Pamplona while men run from them to avoid being gored by their sharp horns. That event was introduced to the English-speaking world by Ernest Hemingway, who included scenes from it in his critically acclaimed 1926 novel “The Sun also Rises.”

    July 22, 2014

Poll

The runoff race for the 5th District congressional seat is set for Aug. 26. If the voting were today, which candidate would you support?

Al McAffrey
Tom Guild
Undecided
     View Results