In a conversation with the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart, President Obama defended big government, arguing that it was working better now than ever. Any problems with the system, he argued, was due to a lack of spending.
“Government works better now than it probably ever has, given what we ask it to do,” he said confidently, assuring that he was able to improve many functions of government during his time as president.
He argued that government agencies were full of people who worked hard and cared about helping people, but admitted that it was slow and often time failed to function properly.
Any problem with government, he explained to the audience, was due to the fact that it was a “human enterprise.”
“When you got two million employees, there’s gonna be places where this slips,” he said.
Obama’s excuse was that the government wasn’t modernized or it was underfunded, calling it “scandalous” that government wasn’t spending enough money to improve basic functions.
“If we’re under-resourcing our government and not staffing it the way it needs to be, to do everything that’s done, then we shouldn’t be surprised that there are going to be gaps,” he said.
He suggested that government had the thankless job of providing services that weren’t provided by the private sector, because there was no profit in helping children in poverty, elderly or poor veterans, and providing things like early child care.
He argued that “structural problems” still existed in the system, but blamed the broken “political system” for its problems.
Obama also argued that cynicism was the biggest threat to government working properly, citing “obstruction” from Republicans and many Americans simply being “afraid of something new.”
“[E]very single day there’s a bunch of stuff that is getting done and helps a lot of people,” he said optimistically.
He explained that the Tea Party was a reflection of a genuine frustration with government for failing to get things done, calling it a “protest movement.”
“They see a bunch of stuff they don’t understand and feel threatened by and they react – including me,” he said.
He concluded his thoughts on government by insisting that progress was being made, as long as Americans were willing to look through the problems.
“Stuff gets better if we work at it, and we stay focused on where we’re going,” he insisted. “I can say this unequivocally … Government works better than when I came into office.”
He argued that many issues with government, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, was improving as a result of him being president.
“The reason I can sleep at night is I say to myself, ‘You know what? It’s better,’” he said.