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Posted by Tim Bryce on September 6, 2011

As I write this article, President Obama has just departed on his summer vacation to Martha’s Vineyard. Following Labor Day he is to return to Washington and make a major speech regarding his proposals for mending the economy and putting the country back to work. As of this moment, the scuttlebutt is he may announce some new tax cuts and reforms, construction projects to stimulate jobs, even a new “Jobs Department” in the government. This is all speculative at this time. Nonetheless, we are told it will be bold and fresh new ideas. Although we all certainly hope this is true, we have already been down this road with the president under the guise of “Change we can believe in.”

So far, the president has tried stimulus and bailout programs with questionable results; the federal debt is rising unabated, and; his proposals to raise taxes have met with stubborn resistance from the Republicans and the public. Frankly, he seems to be running out of options.

Should he propose a new department or agency to oversee jobs or construction projects, this will not be warmly received as it will be perceived as more government bureaucracy, not less. According to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, there is now close to three million government employees, not including military personnel. I think the president would find Congress and the American public more receptive to “right-sizing” the government, anything less will be perceived as rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Should the president reaffirm his intent to raise taxes, this too will be rebuffed. He will likely find the Congress more receptive to discussing tax reform whereby major changes would be welcomed by the American people, something that would be fair and equitable across the board, such as a flat tax or value added tax to replace income tax, and corporate tax structures to encourage companies not to export jobs and money overseas.

He may even challenge the Congressional super committee to go beyond its goal of $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction, but this is not likely as it will cut programs he desperately wants. Hopefully, he’ll surprise us.

What Mr. Obama will propose after Labor Day is anyone’s guess; it may very well be a serious gesture to get our economic house in order, or it may be another instance where the economy has been politicized as we approach the 2012 elections.

Somehow this reminds me of the old joke whereby a new manager had been hired by a company to take over an operation. As the new manager was moving into his office he happened to bump into his predecessor who was preparing to leave. The new manager asked if there was any advice the former manager could offer on assuming his duties. The former manager said he had written his advice and placed them in three envelopes in his old desk and marked “1,” “2,” and “3”, and they should only be opened in the event of an emergency. The new manager laughed, shrugged it off, and went about his business.

The manager’s reign started off fine but inevitably ran into a problem for which he had no solution. Desperate, he happened to remember the three envelopes and opened Number 1 which offered the following advice: “Blame your predecessor.” The manager thought this was a clever way to get himself off the hook and used it to good effect.

Time went by until the manager was faced with another seemingly impossible hurdle. Not knowing what to do, he turned to envelope Number 2 containing a note that read simply: “Reorganize.” The manager thought this was a sound idea and set about reorganizing his operation. Organization charts were redrawn, job descriptions modified, and new office furniture and equipment obtained.

The reorganization overcame the manager’s problem but he eventually ran into a crisis challenging his abilities as a manager. At a total loss as to what to do, the manager turned in desperation to envelope Number 3 which included a note that read simply, “Prepare three envelopes.”

Obama has already opened envelope Number 1. I fear his post-Labor Day speech will be envelope Number 2. If it is, you can be assured he will be opening envelope Number 3 on election day.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at

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Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.


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