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A Continuing Failure of Leadership

Thursday October 17th, 2013   •   Posted by Craig Eyermann at 2:52pm PDT   •  

6708034_S The partial federal government shutdown came to an end early in the morning of Thursday, October 17, 2013, and the United States’ national debt ceiling was increased, as the nation’s leaders essentially agreed to kick the can down the road for another three months. If no budget agreement is reached by January 15, 2014 and if the nation’s legal debt ceiling not increased again by February 7, 2014, the American public is going to be treated to another round of partial government closures and default-related hysteria from the nation’s politicians.

This is only happening because of a failure of leadership in Washington D.C. If it helps underscore that point, let’s consider how differently a similar situation would be handled by the leadership of a business in the private sector, as Warren Meyer recently has following the deal to reopen the government:

Let’s suppose a Fortune 500 company went through a rancorous internal debate about strategic priorities, perhaps even resulting in proxy fights and such (think Blackberry, HP, and many other examples). The debate and uncertainty makes investors nervous. So when the debate has been settled, what does the CEO say? My guess is that he or she will do everything they can to calm investors, explain that the internal debate was a sign of a healthy response to adversity, and reiterate to the markets that the company is set to be stronger than ever. The CEO is going to do everything they can to rebuild confidence and downplay the effects of the internal debate.

At least, that’s what an effective leader would do, because they would recognize that it is in everyone’s best interests going forward. Meyer, whose small business of operating concessions in national parks and forests was directly and negatively affected by the partial government shut down, continues:

Here is President Obama today, talking about the budget battle

“Probably nothing has done more damage to America’s credibility in the world than the spectacle we’ve seen these past few weeks,” the president said in an impassioned White House appearance.

Good God, its like he’s urging a sell order on his own stock. I was early in observing the Republican strategy was stupid and doomed to failure, but you have to show a little statesmanship as President.

Unfortunately, that’s not the President we have. As for the Republican strategy, we can’t help but note that House Speaker John Boehner made it clear two weeks ago that he was going to take the action he did to avoid a federal government default and reopen the 17% of the federal government that was shut down, so maybe it would be more accurate to say that the Republican strategy was stupid and doomed to work as envisioned.

Still, that’s more than can be said of Obamacare, which at the rate that it’s going, will represent a significant income tax hike on all the low and middle-income earners who won’t be buying any subsidized health insurance through the troubled web site because it’s too broken to be fixed in a timely manner.

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October 2013