Obama’s Cabinet: This graph explains a lot

Still catching up from the holidays…

Nick Schulz at the American Enterprise Institute’s blog presents this graph:


I don’t think it will shock anyone that the top people in Democratic administrations tend to have less private-sector experience than their GOP counterparts. Yet the previous low-water mark for private-sector experience since 1900, the JFK administration, was still three times higher than the Obama Cabinet’s level.

Here’s what makes this background information about the Obama team even more interesting:

As Schulz notes, “public sector employment has ranged since the 1950s at between 15 percent and 19 percent of the population,” yet the Obama Cabinet got more than 90 percent of its prior experience in this relatively thin slice of America. So, the current Cabinet largely lacks a practical understanding of the country and companies which it now regulates — understanding that might come in handy now that our government is more enmeshed than ever with banks and auto makers, and is pushing for radically different rules for energy and health-care producers and consumers.

And I think it means more than just that. If the members of the Cabinet have gotten more than 90 percent of their experience from a sector that makes up less than 20 percent of the work force, they represent a relatively small pool of people. These are people who have been working with one another, and others who are like-minded and have had similar experiences, for the vast majority of their careers. They almost have to have a very narrow perspective on the world. Despite the early talk about the Obama Cabinet mimicking Lincoln’s “team of rivals,” they are far less likely to challenge each other’s ideas outside of a fairly narrow frame of thinking than if they had a broader range of experience. They may be political rivals, but that’s the extent of it.

Does this narrowness of experience and understanding outside the Beltway explain why the administration has displayed a tin ear so many times in these first 10 months?

138 comments Add your comment

Hope and Change

November 30th, 2009
4:46 pm

Of course Obama’s cabinet doesn’t have any private sector experience. If they did, they would have been fired for incompetence and losing billions of stockholders’ money. However, if you work your way up through a system which teaches the government’s job is to seize as much money as possible from its citizens who actually do add to the economy and redistribute it to individuals who don’t, then working in the private sector is akin to treason.

F-105 Thunderchief

November 30th, 2009
4:57 pm

When I’m elected President, there will be no Cabinet members who have spent more than 40-percent of their working lives as Washington insiders.


November 30th, 2009
5:07 pm

Lord, help us all. Don’t suppose we will see this analysis on MSNBC. Still waiting on the AJC’s coverage of the climate cover up. Guess they are just taking their time in order to give an in depth look at the issue.

Hillbilly Deluxe

November 30th, 2009
5:45 pm

I’m just curious what the graph would look like prior to 1900.


November 30th, 2009
5:55 pm

who needs private sector experience when you can bring in czars ?


November 30th, 2009
5:58 pm

Well, this certainly does explain a lot. These people are used to figuring money drops from the trees. I know academics get the lion’s share of their money from government grants and contracts, so that is why they like a generous, spending government. Non-profits seem also to have very wealthy upper management, and of course, a government employee never has experienced a need to belt-tighten. I mean the taxpayer’s pockets are infinite aren’t they?


November 30th, 2009
6:02 pm

Let’s see — Bush put corporate cronies in charge of treasury and the SEC — how did that work out? It was great for white-collar crooks, not so good for ordinary investors.

Or how about the EPA? The Bush appointee to run EPA in the southeast actually testified on behalf of a company charged with envrionmental crimes (filling wetlands) while he was in charge of the Bush EPA in the southeast. Despite the Bush appointee’s testimony, the jury convicted on all 41 counts.

Appoint more corporate crooks to run government agencies that are supposed to protect us from corporate crooks?

BRILLIANT! A Republican’s dream come true.


November 30th, 2009
6:35 pm

Yup he did say change Kyle !


November 30th, 2009
6:40 pm

An explanation looking for a problem. Kyle tries so hard but just has nothing relevant to say.


November 30th, 2009
7:01 pm

Kyle asks “Does this narrowness of experience and understanding outside the Beltway explain why the administration has displayed a tin ear so many times in these first 10 months?”.
I have five points to make. First, the public sector experience that the cabinet members is not necessarily “inside the beltway”, and nowhere does the article state that it is. That said, state level public experiences from across the nation could certainly be helpful in their diversity. Second, I certainly don’t agree that the administration “has displayed a tin ear” any more than any other administration in their first year. They campaigned on a platform of issues, and now they are doing what they can to implement it as promised. Third, as Daedalus mentioned, we tried governance by private sector appointee, and that didn’t turn out so well.

Fourth, the only thing the graph “explains” is that the experiences of his cabinet are different from past cabinets.Obama promised change, and this graph certainly illustrates change. This early into the administration, it is really an impossible stretch of the imagination to assign any kind of outcomes to a government vs private sector experience component. Maybe in 2+ years, some kind of pattern of government policy or operation efficiency may emerge which can be theoretically attributed to this single factor, positive or negative, but I doubt it.

Finally, this sounds like is more just another lame right wing talking point which will be inflated to appear as if it is of extreme importance, and used to bash every Obama administration policy or decision, relevant to the meme or not.Time will tell.

David Axelfraud

November 30th, 2009
7:02 pm

NeverTrustARepublican wrote: Kyle tries so hard but just has nothing relevant to say.

Pot meet kettle.

Crazy-Eyed Thug

November 30th, 2009
7:05 pm

If GWB is any example, Obama has hired too many from the private sector.


November 30th, 2009
7:08 pm

Joan, I would talk to a teacher or two before you assume all government employees are like corporate fat cats rolling in money and booze. But assumptions are fun.

Change we can believe in? Yes We Can?

November 30th, 2009
7:24 pm

Obama and his cronies are a disgrace. An unprecedented disgrace in fact. I want to give a “shout out” to say these people are a disgrace. “In 2009 and 2010 all existing buisnesses will receive a $3,000 tax credit for each additional full-time employee hired.” – Barack Obama. “You Lie.” – Joe Wilson.

Crazy-Thug, that is more appropriate

November 30th, 2009
7:28 pm

Crazy-Eyed Thug has been getting free money out of Obama’s “stash” so he is blind to the truth. It’s going to be funny when Obama’s sheep has their electricity rates skyrocketing and they get fined for not paying for their healthcare.


November 30th, 2009
7:47 pm

Peter, I can’t believe you had the gall to be on Kyle’s blog tonight after suggesting to me today @ 1:33 on Kyle’s Politics of Trust blog that I should “just suck up the auto emissions from” my “car directly via a hose…tell us how it works our for you….” That was not just hateful, but evil

Truth Serum

November 30th, 2009
8:00 pm

So now the liberals on the kook left are saying that full 100% fascism is good for America now because banks failed and other business entities failed (never mind they already had regulations). That’s irony for you, because it was government nannystatism that essentially forced banks to loan out to losers and deadbeats for Democrat wet dreams of “fair housing.”

Oh, and while we’re at it, let’s ask those bondholders at GM how they feel about watching their rightful controllership stake in the company go POOF up after the Obama administration bamboozled GM into filing for bankruptcy and then handed over controlling authority to unions. That administration has “czars” for just about everything from corporate pay to that junk science known as global warming through green initiatives (sucked in with General Electric cronyism). But yeah, you mindless liberals go on ahead and think government is great for everything. Just wait until we are JAILED for not joining up for Obamacare. What morons.

Truth Serum

November 30th, 2009
8:02 pm

“That was not just hateful, but evil”

Linda, nobody ever said the sickness of liberalism (and that’s what it is – SICKNESS) was nice. Payback is coming down the line for them, and they’re too arrogant and self indulgent to even know the storm brewing on the horizon.


November 30th, 2009
8:31 pm

Truth, you are not only intuitive but a great American. May God bless you & yours, & he will.

David Axelfraud

November 30th, 2009
8:51 pm

Truth Serum, yep and I can not wait for the liberals to scream and howl when conservatives jam anti-abortion judges down their throats.


November 30th, 2009
8:58 pm

Gee kind of makes me think of when King Bush gave BIG Tax breaks if you purchased a gas guzzling SUV…….

What was that private sector peddling…….?

Makes me think of those “Cost Plus Contracts” that ripped off America………

What was those private sector guys thinking ?

Makes me think of the lies about WMD…..but they called it “Faulty Intelligence”…

What were those private sector guys hiding ?

Thanks Kyle for showing us change is happening in DC !

David Axelfraud

November 30th, 2009
9:03 pm

Peter, I and many others think you need to take a hike. Seriously.


November 30th, 2009
9:04 pm

Hey Linda……. the comments about sucking up the emissions were in your response to suggesting…….

Cars don’t pollute

There is only good emissions

AND…..You actually went as far as to say one would ONLY get a head ache if in a closed garage with a car running, and not die as I suggested would happen.

You also blogged…. you were using me today.

Please don’t make me laugh……


November 30th, 2009
9:12 pm

David….. Stone Mountain or North Ga is lots of fun, I do hike !

But hey you are blogging from Chicago…..I bet there are plenty of places to hike there in Illinois .

I am not a Liberal……..but your suggesting Liberalism is a sickness is pretty off the wall and silly.

You are the typical closed minded person that is not able to embrace another’s point of view.

I guess you are a person who won’t understand others have a different view ?

You say you ride a bike….well hiking is good for you as well !

Reverand Run

November 30th, 2009
9:14 pm

Jesus was a libtard…

David Axelfraud

November 30th, 2009
9:15 pm

Peter, please show me where I said that liberalism is a sickness.

Close minded? So, in your view “open mindedness” is telling someone to commit suicide?

Bottom line: Not only do you get your accusations mixed up but you are also one messed up dude.

David Axelfraud

November 30th, 2009
9:17 pm

Peter writes: I am not a Liberal……..but your suggesting Liberalism is a sickness is pretty off the wall and silly.

Never said it was a sickness.


November 30th, 2009
9:20 pm

Coach K says, “Stupid is as as stupid does”

Truth Serum

November 30th, 2009
9:31 pm

Someone please tell me, how come liberals are all silent on Afghanistan now when Obama does nothing about it while our troops die, but during Bush’s tenure that was allegedly the “real” war?

Oh, and while you’re at it, maybe you can answer why now suddenly liberal Obamabots are silent on government intruding on private lives (Obama continuing the Bush Administration’s LEGAL wiretapping), the Obama administration jacking up job and economic data (oh excuse me, just merely “miscalculating” the economy… silly them), going against the MAJORITY WILL of the people with Obamacare (like back when dissent was patriotic and the will of the people meant something to liberals during the Bush years), record deficit spending to nowhere (glad that stimulus bill stopped job losses at 8%, aren’t you?) and cronyism run amok Chicago style.

Farting Wasp

November 30th, 2009
9:35 pm

T. Serum: Na-Na Boo-Boo Grow up whiny neocon….

David Axelfraud

November 30th, 2009
9:38 pm

Duke-Fraud aka ChurchillsMOM, keep on shouting your mouth off moron. You have no proof that I did or didn’t attend Duke.

Truth Serum

November 30th, 2009
9:40 pm

And while we’re at it, maybe Obowma can just bow his way into another four years in 2012. Lord knows he thinks he’s making headway overseas when they’re all really laughing at him.

FW: let us know when you actually have something to say other than drooling, ya nappy headed liberal troglodyte.

Pro Death Panel

November 30th, 2009
9:47 pm

We need a cash for geezers program to shrink the dead-beats living off the socialist programs of Medicare and Social Security…


November 30th, 2009
10:14 pm

Funny stuff David……My bad you were just agreeing…..but jamming Right wing judges down someone’s throat is pretty harsh…now in Linda’s case I only suggested she might get that head ache she mentioned others would get.

I have no interest, I don’t get excitement or joy from another person’s misfortune.


November 30th, 2009
10:15 pm

Hey Pro Death Panel…….you must not pay into Social Security, and those who have, deserve it back.

David Axelfraud

November 30th, 2009
10:27 pm

Peter, harsh? Harsh is when we have an inexperienced man child in the oval office who can’t lead because he has never led before. Harsh is when the 911 families have to watch as President Acorn and Eric Idiot Holder make sure that islamic killers get a tax paid trial.

No, you get your enjoyment from misreading comments and then throwing these said comments in others faces.

Now, go somewhere else. We’re all sick of you and your ilk.

David Duke-Fraud

November 30th, 2009
10:39 pm

Momma, please set my alarm clock to the Battle Hymn of the Republic, warm my milk, and grab my Glenn Beck blankey….oh, make sure to leave my Reagan nite-light on….God-Bless everyone except Prez

Sunshine and Thunder

November 30th, 2009
10:58 pm

So not only did the statist idiots of America declare that Sarah Palin was unqualified they now defend a president who doesn’t have a clue how to appoint people who are. Sarah Palin was the only candidate of the four in the last presidential election with any executive experience. For that she was excoriated by a paranoid press and liberal punditry. None of whom ever answered the simple question of: what experience did Obama have which qualified him for the job of president?

Isn’t it very obvious why Obama has only appointed people with government experience? Of course it is. Because only government toadies aren’t aware of how incompetent this president is. People who’ve actually had to manage a business, meet a payroll, face stockholders and stare down unions can see through Obama’s deceptions.


November 30th, 2009
11:28 pm

Harsh David is when you invade another country in the name of OIL contracts, and Cost Plus contracts, bankrupt a country, expose a secret agent, and smirk about it.

That is Harsh……ask the families of the dead and wounded soldiers.

Harsh is sending soldiers to battle so under armored, to the point soldiers were cutting steel plates and welding them to Humvee s to protect fellow country men.

Where are the WMDs ? There were not any David.

That is Harsh……..Thus the election changed the leadership of this country.

Let it sink in.

El Jefe

December 1st, 2009
12:13 am

I guess communist, uber liberals and progressives just can’t seem to find real jobs. The position of “despot” does not come up often in head hunting circles.


December 1st, 2009
6:38 am

Ah, yes, Dubya had stellar advisors from the corporate world around him. He fired O’Neil as Sec of the Treasury and eventually ended up with Paulson a man who had never done a thing but run Goldman Sachs. Little wonder, then, that Bush rushed to bail out the banks , along with AIG, who, without the bailout would not have been able to pay their debts to Goldman Sachs. If Goldman had gone under, the way Bush’s stellar corporate advisors let Lehman Brothers go under, Bush’s choice to run the Treasury, Paulson, would be several billion dollars short today. You DO remember that Bush did the TARP, don’t you? It wasn’t Obama. And then lets look at how energy policy was handled under the Bush administration…no, we can’t, because his round-table of elite corporate cronies, which had MORE clout with Dubya than his Cabinet, met in secret. Cheney has fought tooth and nail to keep those records sealed. Condoleeza Rice, who was still on the board of Chevron when she was seated in Dubya’s cabinet was handy, I’m sure, when it came to setting energy policy–though that wasn’t her job. She even had a tanker named for her. Dubya’s good corporate buddy, Ken Lay, of Enron fame was in on it, and, while not a cabinet member, had more clout with Dubya, his best friend. So, please Kyle, tell me why it is a GOOD thing to have these corporate toadies on the cabinet and acting as advisors? They set policy that is not good for the country, but policy that is good for their pockets. We the People get nailed every time. I think it’s great that Obama refuses to surround himself with that ilk. By the way, all of the talking head pundits were spouting the same info yesterday–don’t you guys have an iota of individuality? Must you all drink the same koolaid?


December 1st, 2009
7:19 am

Thanks, Kyle, for providing more proof of the positive and real change that I, for one, voted for.

Horrible Horace

December 1st, 2009
7:37 am

Just more proof that Obobo is more suited to be court jester and his cabinet his personl group of ass-clowns.


December 1st, 2009
7:40 am

Because of the sixteenth amendment, there is no such thing as the “private sector”.

Churchill's MOM

December 1st, 2009
8:08 am

Duke fraud… I guess you must be about 13 years old you certainly do NOT know anything about women, you know nothing about economics and your knowledge of government is at the level of a 5th grade civics class. Grow up and come back when you are a man.

Ron Mexico

December 1st, 2009
8:10 am

Sunshine and Thunder –

The fact that Sarah Palin had the most executive experience of the four is scary enough. Maybe we should ask ourselves why this glorious two party system leaves the American People choosing between Dumb and Dumber every four years. Bush or Gore. Bush or Kerry. McCain or Obama. All of them underqualified to be leaders of our country. Every four years it’s choice between the lesser of two evils.

Ga Values

December 1st, 2009
9:18 am

PBR had a bit in the last few weeks about the low percent of administration positions were filled. I have always thought that Ike and George 1 were the best presidents of my lifetime and LBJ and George II were the worse, to me this is just one of those doesn’t mean anything charts. I didn’t vote for Obama but hope he wins my vote in the next election, We certainly are due a good President.


December 1st, 2009
9:26 am

David harsh is knowing Bush could have gotten Bin Laden, and avenged all the 911 families, and this country of ours, but instead let him go, and invaded Iraq.

David Axelfraud

December 1st, 2009
9:31 am

Churchill’s MOM, and you are a lying sack of horse crap. Go sell stupid somewhere else, troll! You accuse me of lying and you CAN NOT PRODUCE ONE SHRED OF EVIDENCE OF ME LYING ABOUT A LAW DEGREE!

David Axelfraud

December 1st, 2009
9:34 am

Peter, harsh is having a president who can’t decide on what dog to buy for his kids. Harsh is having 10.2% unemployment. Harsh is having a president who can’t see islamic terror for what it is and calling it what it is. Harsh is having a president who says he’s been to all 57 states. Harsh is having a president who has broken every single campaign promise.

Harsh is knowing Obama said that he would get Bin Laden. Tick tock tick tock………..