How will Obama reconcile the reports today that the economy is showing some strength?
For weeks now, he has been telling us that passing health care reform is imperative if we are to fix this economy and return the nation to a strong financial footing and that it must occur now! Why a bill that doesn't take effect for 4 years needs to pass now! is beyond me, but, hey, the Oracle has spoken.
Anyway, today, I predict that Obama and his media sycophants will be trumpeting these reports and claiming that the stimulus has turned things around. Despite the rise in unemployment that is going to occur, they'll say that consumer spending is going up, factory orders are up, and that increases in unemployment is only due to bad weather. Encouraging signs in the economy are good news for all of us. Housing remains a serious problem, as home sales continue to lag.
If that's so, then what's the case for the health care reform bill?
Senator Bunning Says "No"
Senator Jim Bunning said "no" this week to increasing the deficit by $10B to extend unemployment benefits yet again. Despite many economists who say that extending these benefits tends to increase long-term unemployment, Democrats and Republicans continually extend these since it's politically popular. In today's USA Today, Senator Bunning says
"If the Senate cannot find $10 billion to pay for a measure we all support, we will never pay for anything."He's right, and he's also a fine example of why we need term limits. If we had more senators who didn't always have to suffer a political price (Senator Bunning is retiring) for requiring common sense in passing legislation, we might have legislation that is passed less on its ability not to be demogogued and more on its actual usefulness. And, we might also have a Congress who obeys its own rules. So, despite the fact that Senator Bunning is a hypocrite on this particular issue (he has previously of course voted for these kinds of things), he is still right, and he's at least amongst Republicans, figuring out the lessons of the tea-party movement.
Obama at the Health Care Summit
It's stale now, but, the only thing to comment on about Obama at the health care summit is Obama himself. It is now obvious that, as expected, the summit was a charade intended to give the impression that there was an attempt made at bipartisanship, and that was what the American people wanted, and that with this, the Democrats now have the political cover to ram the current bill through under reconciliation. The reality is that ramming the bill through misreads Scott Brown's victory and makes me wonder what the administration is thinking.
Anyway, the Republicans had to play, and they did a decent job presenting their side and putting the lie to the argument that there are no other ideas. Paul Ryan and Lamar! Alexander stood out and the GOP came out about as good as they could.
But, my opinion of Obama really sank (as if it could).
Having been associated with the Navy for 20+ years, spending most of the rest of my life in corporate America, and a Master's Degree in management, I have some thoughts on Obama's leadership/management of the summit.
First, I liked that Obama asserted that he was President, therefore, he got the microphone more. Good point.
But, should Obama have even been seated at the table at all? No. I realize that the White House staged this, and wanted Obama there to give the air of bipartisanship, but I also think this was a mistake. For me, the president should have kicked off the session, given his goals, stated unequivocally that he expected both sides to present their thoughts and opinions, and left it to someone else to chair the session. He could have said he was going to spend the rest of the time listening, or left (to do this, he would have, politically, have set that as the expectation). I think his staying was a mistake, because like all things Obama, this becomes all about him. Even if he had said he was going to listen, he would still have dominated the time. So, that would have been a dangerous strategy with the narcissist-in-chief.
Anyway, if Obama is shooting to be a highly-paid PWC consultant, I guess this was a decent performance. He kept things moving, he kept the side that was paying him in control and let them dominate the discussion, he solidified his own bona-fides with his constituencies (which is what all consultants want to do), and he let the opposition speak just enough to let them feel decent about themselves and, more importantly, to let the paying customers feel good, and to let the consultant (Obama) feel great about the job he has done. Now, just like a good consultant, the people paying for his services can ram through what they wanted to do anyway, and can say in their own good conscience that they listened to the other side, albeit at the 11th hour.
But, that's how these things work in the corporate world, too, in many situations. That's not how they work in companies that seriously want to examine what they do and make changes, but, that's how they work in a lot where the management really doesn't care what anyone else thinks.
So, Obama has a future as a management consultant.
As a leader, not so much.