A few years back, I did a story about how if we elected Al Gore as President in 2000, we all would be sitting around lighting Cuban cigars with $100 bills….no 9-11, no war, no Katrina, stock market at 20,000, Climate Change solved, smaller national debt, no 2008 Republican Great Recession, etc.  But it is really true; Al Gore Could have Changed America for the Better.

The “deal” President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore, Jr. struck was that Bill would be the public face and international and Congress guy, and Al would be the policy wonk behind domestic affairs and improving the federal government effectiveness.

Al Gore relished in these roles because HE DID INVENT THE INTERNET.  He sponsored the Defense Department appropriations that created the Internet.  Being his father’s son (a long time Tennessee Congressman, he had a lot of clout, and got through his bills which many thought were science fiction.  Remember Tennessee is where the Scopes Monkey Trial was held.

So Al Gore led a $330 billion dollar reduction in the federal budget and reduced federal employees by over 300,000 (the first reduction in modern memory).  He did it by involving the very front line employees, who he paid bonuses to improve government.  Buyouts of 30-40 year government employees created more retirement and upward mobility for newbies.  Federal employees were excited about the changes and went to state governments to show them how to do it.  As a state employee, I had many communications with federal employees wanting to share the new gospel.  The Internet was abuzz with blogs and links.

A issue that kept coming up and up and that Gore relayed to Clinton was that the “Trust In Government” was at an all time low because of Watergate, and the Reagan Years of Iran-Contra and selling drugs to but arms for rebels (and of course Clinton hating).  Clinton indicated Gore should work on this so that the Reinventing government initiative (Re-Go), could be more successful.  I wrote on this topic as follows:   https://williamhenrymee.wordpress.com/2016/10/17/trust-in-government/.

Republicans literally cry each election for reducing the regulations.  Our best national answer to “Regulatory Reform” would have been to elect Al Gore.  I know that we elected “the guy we most would likely have a beer with” George W. Bush and we rejected the stiff caricature of an egg-headed Al Gore, a policy wonk. But while Clinton was doing his thing with Monica, he let VP Al Gore have free rein of government. Clinton gave Gore a marching order to “streamline government” and to provide a laboratory for state and local governments to follow (which Gore posted to the Internet—but there is another joke we can laugh at). If we had elected Gore, he would have cut 300,000 more federal employees and $300 billion more dollars to a total of 600,000 and $630 billion. Gore’s streamlining of regulations and tax simplification would have blown all our minds. He expanded the role of VP more than any other President (Until Bush let Cheney run amok). Gore set up programs that I studied as a state government employee because we need to improve our dysfunctional bureaucracy.   The Reinvention of Government Initiative (http://www.govexec.com/management/2013/04/what-reinvention-wrought/62836/), the Trust Initiative, the Plain English requirement for writing regulations (gear them for a 6th grade level and remove legalese), the Performance Review, Streamlining,—just many, many programs. In three years, they cut 300,000 jobs and $300 billion dollars annually from the budget. Employees were paid bonuses on ideas they had to trim regulations, eliminate red tape and to streaming process. They set up “senior leaders program” where good performers were shuffled into the poorest performing areas and given a bonus if they could “turn-it around.” They created citizen-led committees that oversaw government operations and made quality management recommendations. They created government award programs and grant programs that federal agencies could access for personnel bonuses if they achieved cost savings (like 5% of the cost savings could go to you in a one-time bonus if you saved the 100%). Employees who once were “rewarded” for squandering budget hold-over money from year-to-year (say with bigger offices and new furniture that was unnecessary) were turning it in. 250,000 pages of regulations were eliminated. They created parking lots were citizens could park up front instead of one mile away, they create email citizen complaint lines, One Stop Shop, etc., etc. This was all written up in a 350 page report I have somewhere. All undone by George W. Bush who stopped all the programs and hired an estimated 6-7 million more federal employees through privatization and the creation of Homeland Security. Managers were hired like Michael Brown the Arabian Horse Association President who let Katrina happen at his watch at FEMA. The political hacks they put in like Bill Bennett who got a $14.9 million contract to design a “No Child Left Behind” test (at a per test copy of $250 which is part of a kickback to Bennett, the $8 million dollar a year gambler, when the tests could be photocopied at about a $1 price tag. The Bushes ended the nuclear reclamation program in Russia (started by Bush’s dad) which allowed 25 nukes to fall into the hands of the Russian Mafia.   So we went from competence to lunacy in the name of TOO MUCH GOVERNMENT (yet, the federal government expanded to the largest it has ever been under G.W. Bush—it was only GOP lip service).

Reinvention Program of Gore that closely tied to the international Total Quality Movement and the National Malcomb Balridge Awards (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcolm_Baldrige_National_Quality_Award).   Businesses were buying into getting results and streamlining operations to become corporate citizens (after Bush the only thing that seemingly remained in the business ethos was vulture capitalism and Naomi Klein’s Disaster Capitalism—just hollow out the company and sell it off–“those workers were too much of a burden anyway”).

The spirit of this Reinvention Program is virtually dead and forgotten. I know of no one talking about it. So electing a Democrat like Obama didn’t get us back on track. Bush took down the “First Government” and “National Performance Review” websites (http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/npr/library/papers/bkgrd/brief.html and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Partnership_for_Reinventing_Government) and virtually destroyed the library of reports. The War in Iraq consumed our national interest in becoming a more efficient government. Unfortunately, if we had it in place it could of taken us out of the recession and we wouldn’t be having this posting/discussion to the Blogs and Facebook groups as we have had for nearly two decades.  Even Obam was hamstrung to not participate further (https://www.brookings.edu/testimonies/lessons-for-the-future-of-government-reform/).  Alas…..