Reading through the numerous newspaper newspapers today, one cannot help but be embarrassed at the way our federal government is currently being run. Our newspapers are providing details of an inspector general’s report that states that the General Services Administration (GSA) of the federal government took a lavish and wasteful 800,000 trip to Las Vegas. We then read about a GSA employee reward program that violated a government policy. We are reading about how our government officials are wasting our money with no regard for how it’s being spent. Where’s this mentality coming from? Does it come from the top, or is it a mentality so entrenched in some of the federal government departments that no one leader, or government official, can be blamed for the mentality?
In some speeches, President Barack Obama tells us that our massive debt cannot be maintained as it is, yet we see no off teleprompter actions in this regard. When spending cuts are then proposed, we are told that they’re in line with “social Darwinist” thinking. We are then forced to endure the “parks will close, the needy will starve,” and the handicapped people will have their chairs taken away from them if we allow these Republican spending cut proposals to see the light of day.
The answer to this problem, say Obama and Democrats, is that we need to pay more taxes. We need to pass the Buffet rule and allow the Bush tax cuts to expire on 1/1/2013. We are told that the Buffet rule, in particular, is a good first step to solving the debt, yet no other steps are proposed. This would raise taxes in a manner that even some of his more level-headed supporters admit will have little to no effect on the deficit or the debt. They call it a gimmick. A gimmick, some have said to divide the classes and create more votes for Obama. Yet, we have no off teleprompter proposals to cut spending. It would appear that the manager of our federal government has no management skills, but even those most ardent supporters knew that when they voted for him.
As President of the United States, Barack Obama receives all of the credit for things that go right and all of the blame for things that go wrong during his tenure. It’s unfair at times, and it’s not right in others, but it’s a fact of the office that candidate Obama sought when he pledged that he would make “no excuses” for any failings that occurred while he was in office.* The question we must ask ourselves this coming November is, is it Obama’s fault, and if it is can Mitt Romney reverse it all with his management expertise?
The fact that Republican candidate Mitt Romney has better management skills than Barack Obama cannot be refuted. He has twenty-five years of experience in the private sector,** he was the Vice-President at Bain and Company,*** and he was the governor of Massachusetts between 2002 and 2006. Romney has experience with making budgets, he has had a hand in creating environments through which jobs have been created, reassigned, and ended. He has had to make decisions that were wildly popular at times, and he has had to make decisions that were unpopular at other times. In the end, he has made decisions that needed to be made to protect the bottom line for his investors and the companies he’s invested in and guided to prosperity. Whether you like Romney or not, you do have to admit he has more skills at managing people than anyone running for president right now. The question is can a man of such experience use these skills to reverse the general, out of control government activities currently going on.
Is it a question of poor management, or is it a question about the systemic problems we have in our federal government? How long has the government existed without penetrating oversight, such as that which is now being offered by the Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Darrell Issa (R, CA)? Could it be said that former House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairmen failed to oversee certain actions by government officials properly enough. We all know that intense oversight has existed in the defense department for decades. We know that this administration has seen to it that strict oversight is conducted on the private sector, but in many areas the federal government’s public sector employees appear to be out of control.
What leads these individuals from the GSA, from the managing departments on down, to think that they can get away with wasting the taxpayer’s money in the manner they did on this retreat? Surely, this mentality doesn’t happen overnight? If this was just a “one-off” incident, they probably would not have videotaped themselves doing it. They would not have attempted to document it, if they had any idea that they would be called before an oversight committe one day. The videotaping suggests to some that there is an elitist mentality that exists in the federal government that requires massive reform and upgraded oversight, the variety of oversight and reform that we were promised in the presidential campaign of 2008. Can someone like Mitt Romney completely overhaul a system that has criminally wasteful ways of doing business that may have existed for years, if not decades, or is he just another politician promising hope and change and transparency and oversight?
Rush Limbaugh recently told his audience that Mitt Romney confided to him that he (Romney) does plan to fix all of this, and he (Romney) believes that fixing it will be so unpopular that he will be a one-term president if he’s elected.****
“If I accomplish everything I want to do, I may only be a one-term president. Because I am gonna so fix this. It’s gonna be dramatic. We’ve gotta reverse this. We gotta stop this. Our children’s future is at stake here, and I’m gonna stop the direction that we’re headed in, and if they throw me out after four years, fine and dandy.”
At an investment firm called Bain and Company, or Bain Capital, Mitt Romney had a hand in making decisions to invest in small companies that turned these small companies into large companies thanks to the investment decisions Bain and Company made while Romney was VP.*****
In this American Enterprise Institute article, Steve Kaplan writes the following:
“While it is difficult, if not impossible, to get employment data on all of Bain Capital’s investments, and not all of the data are perfect, it is possible to look at some of the successes and failures to get a sense of magnitudes.”
In this excellent recap of Romney’s tenure as VP of Bain and Company, Kaplan lists the successes and failures of the investment company Bain Capital. Between the four largest successes of Bain and Company, his piece details, Romney can take some credit for the 125,000 jobs these companies created. Kaplan’s piece also covers the much talked about “looting” of companies that Bain Capital did throughout the years Romney was VP.
“When you add it all up today,” Kaplan writes, “even in these investments, it looks likely that Bain Capital created jobs overall.”
Kaplan then concludes his recap of the failings of Bain Capital by saying the following:
“While we will probably never be able to measure the true numbers, it seems pretty clear that “looting” is an inaccurate description of what happened with these companies.”
No company, no individual enjoys talking about their failings, but even in Romney’s failings at Bain Capital it appears as though “Bain Capital created jobs overall.” When a company begins to fail, a good manager needs to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ‘em, and know when to walk away. A good manager knows that he is probably going to have to fire people to transform his failing company into a prosperous one. A good manager knows that he is going to be quite popular at times and quite unpopular at other times. A good manager also knows he has to avoid letting either of these sentiments effect his judgment when it’s called upon. This can be done when hundreds, perhaps thousands, are affected by your actions, but what about hundreds of millions nation-wide, and the hundreds of millions around the world? Are they prepared for the dramatic changes Romney promises?
Romney states that he’s fully prepared for his proposed changes to be unpopular, and that sounds great in theory, and the idea of being a VP of an investment company that makes decisions that can be unpopular at times is another thing. When one makes the unpopular decisions that Romney is proposing, he should be prepared to be roundly ridiculed and castigated on a nation-wide, even world-wide scale. Is he prepared for this? We don’t know the answer to this question, of course, but with the current climate in Washington, we’re all hoping for some kind of change to occur that prevents the looming disaster this current climate in Washington foreshadows.