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Accountability for Thee but Not for Me

May 28, 2014 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

When it comes to business and the private sector, President Obama and top Democrats are all about accountability.

Banks: “When we learn that a major bank has serious problems, we will hold accountable those responsible,” President Obama says.

Oil companies: “The person who makes the mistake ought to be responsible,” according to Florida senator Ben Nelson.

Auto makers: “Manufacturers [are] on notice that they will be held accountable if they fail to quickly report and address safety-related defects,” said transportation secretary Anthony Foxx.

President Obama loves to hold the private sector accountable. Government? Not So much.”

Food processors: “Anyone who knowingly and willingly put American families at risk should be held responsible to the fullest extent of the law,” declared Representative Rosa DeLauro, after a series of beef recalls.

Don’t get me wrong, accountability is a good thing. Especially when criminality or willful negligence is involved, there may well be a role for the government in holding business accountable. More important, when businesses screw up, the market itself extracts a price: Share prices drop. Market share shrinks. People lose their jobs. Just ask former Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel.

But when it comes to the government itself, there is precious little accountability.

Take the ongoing scandal in the VA health system. In Phoenix, where news of secret waiting lists first broke, up to 40 veterans reportedly died while awaiting care. There is now evidence of wrongdoing at 26 facilities in seven states. One can only imagine how outraged President Obama would be if some private company acted half so irresponsibly. Democrats would be lined up at the microphone to demand action; Harry Reid would probably blame the Koch brothers.

Yet, the VA scandal has generated no such response. No one has been fired. General Eric Shinseki, who has run the department for the last six years, but who — like the president himself — apparently learned about the scandal from the newspapers, is still in charge. When the House voted last week 330–33 for legislation that would make it easier for the VA secretary to fire people, Shinseki opposed it. Exactly one person, an undersecretary, has resigned so far, and he had already announced that he was leaving. Not only do the administrators in the Phoenix hospital where the whole thing began still have their jobs, they actually got bonuses this year — a move that was only reversed after the media …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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