Practicality and Government

I had the pleasure today of listening to Kathleen Sebelius, former Secretary of Health and Human Services. Former Governor of Kansas, Secretary Sebelius is perhaps best known for overseeing the implementing the Affordable Care Act.

She spoke about many things, including the infamous “eight weeks” of her service while there were problems with the Health Exchange Portal.

But perhaps most interesting was her take on dysfunction in national government.

States, she said, have a more practical approach. There is dissent and disagreement and knock down political fights. But at the end of the day, things get done. Things have to get done.

For one thing, states are mandated to annually pass a budget. So there’s only so far you can kick the can down the road.

That’s not the same at the federal level. In addition to raising issues of gerrymandering and money in politics, Sebelius argued that there’s a growing number of people elected to congress who think that nothing good comes from government.

For four of the five years she was Secretary, the Department of Health and Human Services didn’t have a budget. The government shut down three times.

States, she argued, have to be practical. But for Congress – they can pass the buck indefinitely.

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