Barack Obama: Hand-washer-in-chief

Executives are supposed to deal with or avoid problems. Barack Obama, elected U.S. president with essentially no executive experience, prefers to wash his hands of them.

He washed his hands of Iraq, though now he has been forced to dirty them there again. He’s trying to wash his hands of Afghanistan. He just washed his hands of Yemen, presiding over an ignominious U.S. exit during which, reportedly, American Marines turned over their weapons, apparently, as a condition of their withdrawal [see UPDATE below].

Today, Obama washed his hands of a totally predictable consequence of Obamacare — reduced staffing and reduced working hours for workers.

Obamacare requires companies with more than 50 employees to pay for health insurance for people who work 30 hours a week or more. Accordingly, some employers are keeping staffing numbers below 50 or cutting the work week to less than 30 hours to avoid providing employee health insurance.

In response to this phenomenon, Obama slammed one of the employers said to be cutting employee hours due to Obamacare (but which denies doing so). The president told BuzzFeed:

There 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.

I haven’t looked at Staples stock lately or what the compensation of the CEO is, but I suspect that they could well afford to treat their workers favorably and give them some basic financial security, and if they can’t, then they should be willing to allow those workers to get the Affordable Care Act without cutting wages. . . .

[W]hen I hear large corporations that make billions of dollars in profits trying to blame our interest in providing health insurance as an excuse for cutting back workers’ wages, shame on them.

Yeah. And shame on ISIS, the Taliban, and whatever the Iranian-backed outfit that ran us out of Yemen is called.

“Shaming” bad actors is fine for a fourth grade teacher. But the job of a leader is to anticipate the shameful — or in the case of companies that cut staffing or hours in response to Obamacare, the economically rational — potential behavior of those affected by his decisions, and to shape the decisions accordingly.

Obama prefers to shape his decisions based on the image he wishes to see in the mirror — bringer of peace, provider of health insurance to the masses — without regard for real world consequences. He washes his hands of these consequences.

This makes him not only our hand-washer-in-chief, but also our narcissist-in-chief.

UPDATE: The most recent reporting I’ve seen on our ignominious exit from Yemen indicates that our Marines smashed their weapons before leaving, rather than turning them over to the local powers-that-be.

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