Obama: Ongoing Obamacare Problems Don't Reflect On My Personal Management Style

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CHRIS MATTHEWS: When Secretary Sebelius appeared in that hearing and she was asked by [Congresswoman] Marsha Blackburn, who's in charge, it took awhile for her to answer. And she finally got to the Chief Operating Officer of CMS, the Center for Medicaid and Medicare, and it didn't seem like there was a strong top-down authority system from you. Did you have -- do you have that? Let's look forward here. Do you have a relationship with your cabinet, that you have a system of cracking the whip? They follow through and they execute as you envision they should or do you work through a COO, like Mr. [Denis] McDonough? What is your system for management?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all I think it's important to distinguish between this particular project, this healthcare project, where it is obvious that we needed additional controls in place, because it didn't deliver on time the way we wanted. And how we've managed incredibly complex problems for the last five years. Everything from wars to pandemics to, you know, natural disasters to, you know, expanding student loans for young people.

Generally speaking, my theory has been, number one, that yes, I've got a strong Chief of Staff but I'm holding every cabinet member accountable and I want to have strong interactions with them, directly. Number two, is I have an open door policy where I want people bringing me bad news on time so we can fix things. And, you know, the challenge, I think, that we have going forward is not so much my personal management style or particular issues around White House organization. It actually has to do with what I referred to earlier which is we had these big agencies, some of which are outdated. Some of which are not designed properly.

We've got, for example, 16 different agencies that have some responsibility to help businesses, large and small, in all kinds of ways. Whether it's helping to finance them, helping them to export. And so if you're a small business person getting started, you may think you need to go to the Small Business Administration on one thing, you've got to go Commerce on another. So, we've proposed let's consolidate a bunch of that stuff.

The challenge we've got is that that requires a law to pass. And frankly, there are a lot of members of Congress who are chairman of a particular committee and they don't want necessarily consolidations where they would lose jurisdiction over certain aspects of certain policies. But this is going to be a major focus and has been over the last five years, but going forward over the next three years, how do we have a 21st century federal government? And this is part of the reason why people are skeptical. There are just some things people have an interaction with the federal government where we could be doing a much better job.

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