Politico’s Edward-Isaac Dovere cleverly describes the effect of George W. Bush on the Obama administration as being a “hangover.” That’s a fair description because the Bush legacy handicapped Obama with extreme constraints that would be difficult for anyone to escape that included both financial and military obligations. His account in the story link below is excellent, however, this analysis suggests stepping back to consider the greater context.
Consider the lifecycle of a president, term by term.
One might think that the chief executive of the US federal government enterprise would have much control over the ship of state. However, the American political system is a complex myriad of Constitutional laws and regulations. Because it is a government with three branches, executive, legislative, and judicial, controlling government performance is asymmetrical.
One dominant control is the planning and budgeting cycle. When a newly elected president sets foot in office in January, the new incumbent has already inherited the plans, budget, and financial condition left by the predecessor. In the Obama instance, Bush left him with a historically bad precedent. Not only was the economy in meltdown, the disastrous condition was driven by wars, one of which was illegal and an option, and the other was driven by a response to terrorism (Iraq and Afghanistan).
Obama’s Congress was favorable to him in the first half of the first term. That is when he was able to pass the Affordable Care Law, for instance. He was able to take actions that stabilized the economy. After that, American voters got fickle and gave him a conservative Congress for the second half of his first term, and ever since. That circumstance has been described as dysfunctional government.
A president is supposed to be able to guide and direct government change by proposing new laws, proposing to retire some, and to modify them. If Congress fails to act favorably, the president may use memos and executive orders to tweak government to a limited extent. For instance, he can solve immigration reform, but he can restrict deportations.
In the greater context, America is hungover, but it isn’t just by George W. Bush. Now, it is hungover by multiple presidents engaging in foreign policy that we cannot afford, and for which we have not obtained a high return on cost.
Tomorrow, this analyst will attend a conference billed as “Outcome-driven Government” that is hosted by the Association for Enterprise Information (AFEI) at the National Defense Industrial Association HQ in Arlington, Virginia. Information from the discussion will be reported here.
“The Association for Enterprise Information (AFEI) is an association for the United States government and the defense industry.
AFEI was formed in 1998 as an affiliate organization to the National Defense Industrial Association. Before becoming an association, AFEI started as the US CALS (DOD) Industry Steering Group in 1985. This organization was formed at the request of OSD and designed to advise DoD on the selection of commercial standards for data exchange among dissimilar systems. The Steering Group also conducted programs and activity in e-commerce and e-business.
The AFEI mission is to lead government agencies, industry and academia to strengthen global enterprise integration technology, processes and solutions.”
“Obama’s Bush hangover
By EDWARD-ISAAC DOVERE | 6/16/14 5:00 AM EDT
Six years in, Barack Obama is still battling a Bush hangover.
The rising chaos in Iraq — and the blame game over who’s responsible — are the latest reminders that halfway through his own second term, he’s still often more consumed by dealing with the legacy of President George W. Bush than building his own.
Obama supporters see a president who found himself so deep in so many holes from his very first day in office that cleaning up the aftermath of the previous eight years was going to take at least eight of his own: getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan, stabilizing the housing market and repairing the larger economic collapse, all while chopping a $1.2 trillion deficit in half.