Let us now praise David Axelrod.
“Part of being president is there’s so much beneath you that you can’t know because the government is so vast,” the president’s former right-hand-man explained on MSNBC recently. He was attempting to defend Barack Obama, who says he didn’t know that the IRS was targeting conservative groups, or that the Justice Department had obtained the phone records of Associated Press reporters and editors. And don’t even get started on what the president didn’t know about Benghazi.
Axelrod’s defense, of course, doesn’t apply to the real world.
Since 2002, the federal government has required CEOs and CFOs to sign forms taking responsibility for the company’s financial reports. No matter how large of an empire they oversee, they could well be charged with a crime if an accountant fails to carry the two somewhere along the line.
By this standard, Obama would be responsible for the workings of his government because he’s the chief executive. One reason he told us he wanted the job was because he thought he could do it better than George W. Bush.
Axelrod’s stumbled across something important, even if he doesn’t realize it. The federal government is, indeed, too large and unwieldy. But instead of absolving the president of any blame, let’s take the logical step: cut the federal government down to its proper size.
The first step is to oppose comprehensive bills that attempt to solve all problems at once. They usually come too late, anyway: By the time Sarbanes-Oxley (aimed at preventing corporate misdeeds) had been enacted, Enron and Arthur Anderson were out of business. Or consider the farm bill, 80 percent of which gets spent on welfare programs that have nothing to do with farming. There will still be food even after Washington gets out of the farming business.
The two most recent examples, of course, are Obamacare and Dodd-Frank.