Three Thoughts on Obama’s Interview

In an attempt to look like a legitimate newssource, BuzzFeed’s editor in chief finagled an interview with POTUS himself. Herewith, three thoughts in response to what the President said.

1.

[T]here is no reason for an employer who is not currently providing health care to their workers to discourage them from either getting health insurance on the job or being able to avail themselves of the Affordable Care Act.

Presidents should learn Hanley’s second rule of public policy: Don’t focus on the goal you want to achieve; focus on the incentives you’re actually creating.

2.

[A]n issue like nondiscrimination for the LGBT community is a little bit easier than the issues of inner-city poverty, right?

Right. Presidential candidates who think they’re seeking the White House to make big domestic policy changes should keep this in mind.

3.

We have tried to begin a process of reforming how we deal with nonviolent drug offenses, starting with Eric Holder, our attorney general, providing different criteria for evaluation for U.S. attorneys, suggesting to them they don’t always just have to charge the maximum in order for them to do a good job.

One can either see this as a total copout–after 6 years, still “trying to begin,” and making mere “suggestions” to U.S. Attorneys who are subordinates to the Attorney General, who answers to the President–or one can see it as an example of how the long-term staff of a bureaucracy can stymie policy change efforts by comparatively (and predictably) short-term political appointees. Or a combination of the two.

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About James Hanley

James Hanley is Associate Professor of Political Science at Adrian College and a Fellow of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. The views expressed here do not reflect the views of either organization.
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