AS I SEE IT: Today’s deceitful world makes granddad twitch
My granddad was a stern, judgmental man who paced the house thundering what I supposed were Scriptures directed at me. He was especially keen on the ninth of the Ten Commandments and such rumblings as “Children, obey your parents” as though he’d been lurking in corners to catch me at my worst — maybe reading my mind. I didn’t much like my granddad, but his words did stay with me and made me wonder what he’d have to say from his present vantage point about today’s goings-on. Probably something like this:
Lies, lies, lies. Ah yes, my children, there was a time when “Read my lips, no new taxes” meant no new taxes and “is” meant is, but that changed years after I was gone.
Where does the buck stop?
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.
Let’s get the foundation sound first
The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services appeared before the Senate this week to explain one of the most enormous blunders in history.
Hundreds of millions of dollars and the most expansive and technologically advanced propaganda campaign ever conceived were poured into the rollout of a product that flopped in colossal fashion. This unprecedented fiasco, years in the planning and shepherded through its development by some of the most capable politicians and bureaucrats in the world, unfolded before the eyes of the world like a disorganized mob of Keystone cops tumbling out of some comical paddy wagon. In the ridiculous aftermath, the embarrassed American taxpayer watched in disbelief as the cast of exorbitantly paid incompetents took turns pointing the finger of blame in every direction.
The healthcare law’s frightening information void
Halloween’s over, but small-business owners trying to navigate the new federal health care law feel like they’re trapped in a haunted house where something scary lurks behind every door.
Even before the Affordable Care Act’s online enrollment system dropped dead on arrival, Main Street entrepreneurs had grown fearful that they will be the main victims of an overly ambitious scheme certain to hamper job growth, damage employee morale and drive the cost of health care even further out of reach.
As expected, they’re now facing compliance with a rickety, untested and expensive government monstrosity that depends on luck, politics and heavy-handed enforcement to succeed. Getting accurate information from government sources is no easy task. Yet it is crucial that those who own and operate the nation’s small enterprises prepare themselves for more frightful ACA ogres to appear around the next corner.
Let’s start where we can agree
Political opinions aside, it is clear that our economy is broken and that our debt is growing at an alarming rate. In fact, the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office recently called our situation “unsustainable indefinitely.” The entire nation was reminded and awakened to this grave reality during the past several weeks — first with the lapse in appropriated funds that caused shutdown and second with the debt ceiling deadline that, without action, would have resulted in default.
EDITORIALS: Move forward on immigration reform; SNAP cuts impact all
The chance of serious immigration reform passing in these closing weeks of Congress depends on how optimistic you are. / The 6 percent, or $5 billion, cut to the nation’s food stamp program will harm more than those individual recipients.
Altus developing pocket parks
In the recently published “The Genius of Venice” American historian Dial Parrott writes of how old Latin chronicles detailed the existence of the “rivus altus” which translates into “deep stream” that in time became the Venetian waterway that is known as the Grand Canal.
And, it is doubtful that the authors of those ancient documents could have imagined how the rivus altus would become the site of one of the world’s most fabled and visited waterways.
The citizens of Altus were recently told of how a now moribund alley on the north side of that community’s town square could be transformed into a pocket park that will bring people to it. Several other Oklahoma communities, including Tahlequah, Wilburton and Cushing have constructed pocket parks on unused land in their downtown areas.
Welfare benefits and the forgotten source
Commenting on what he perceives as the liberal bias of the Associated Press, former University of Texas journalism professor Marvin Olasky suggested that we “think of it algebraically, with AP standing for coverage of person A, who has a problem, and person P, the politician who purports to have a solution. The Associated Press typically did not bother to cover person F, the one paying taxes so that person P can gain glory for sending aid to person A. In the 19th century, Yale professor William Graham Sumner had offered a similar equation and called person F ‘the forgotten man.’ In the 21st century, AP regularly broke its pledge to be evenhanded by highlighting person A and forgetting Mr. F.”
Where does all of the lottery money go?
On multiple occasions, a member of the House District 31 constituency inquires about the impact upon common education of Oklahoma lottery proceeds. Many believed that once voters approved the lottery it would quench common education’s insatiable appetite for money. No doubt, based on viewing lottery advocacy commercials, they thought the lottery would have more of an impact and want to know where the money is going.
A-F grades for schools will help improve public education
Oklahoma has great teachers and great schools. No one deserves more respect or thanks than our teachers, who are doing difficult and important jobs for modest salaries. Many teachers make a profound difference in the lives of their students, instilling them with academic passions that lead to successful careers and fulfilling lives.
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