Here’s the ObamaCare rollout in two sentences: Millions of Americans are losing their health insurance policies because of the law. And many of the soon to be uninsured can’t sign up for the new federal benefits because the Obama administration screwed up its Web site.
It’s no wonder conspiracy theorists on the right are convinced that it’s all on purpose. The straightforward answer – that thousands of federal employees working under the direction of leader of the Free World for 52 months to prepare for the launch could fail so epically – defeats the imagination even of those who have made careers out of studying the epic failures of government.
The big news this week is that the administration knew perfectly well in 2010 that 7 million or more Americans would get shucked from their individual insurance plans when new regulations go into place next year. That’s bad. It means that President Obama’s repeated campaign vows that those who like their insurance can keep it – “Period” – weren’t broken promises. They were either deceptions crafted to obscure the facts from voters or the result of systemic failure at the White House.
Democrats have had quite enough of blaming things on systemic failure, so they’re going with deception. Rep. Steny Hoyer, the second-ranking Democrat in the House, put it thusly: “I think the message was accurate. It was not precise enough…[it] should have been caveated with – ‘assuming you have a policy that in fact does do what the bill is designed to do.’”
That’s one helluva caveat, Mr. Minority Whip. And if President Obama had hauled it out on the campaign trail in Ohio last year he probably wouldn’t have been re-elected. Perhaps the president could have had an asterisks man who followed him around on stage, holding up a giant “*” sign every time Obama touted his health law.
The law is already getting the blame for massive disruptions in the employer-based health insurance world, with part-time work rising and benefits disappearing. Whatever the administration wants to say about the el cheap-o insurance that will be available to unwilling 25 year olds compelled to sign up, this law is looking like a big loser for much of the 85 percent of the population that already had health insurance.
So why are Democrats, including those in the White House, treating Americans like borrowers who didn’t read the fine print on their contracts? This seems like a bad time to embrace intentional disruption via “gotcha!” People are nervous enough about this law.
Valerie Jarrett, the White House eminence at large, tried for a bit to say that it was insurance companies who were doing the shucking. But it couldn’t last.
“Nothing in the Affordable Care Act forces people out of their health plans,” was the initial White House line, reflecting a pervious, more nuanced, iteration of the president’s “if you like it” claim. But that wasn’t going to do, especially given the smoking gun of a document just laying around in the Federal Register saying that the administration proceeded with full knowledge that massive disruptions were ahead. The White House had to bow to the obvious: It was part of the plan.
Of course, Obama and Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius set a course for disruption, they didn’t imagine that the ObamaCare launch would sound like a whoopee cushion and that at the very moment when people started finding out about the asterisks that confidence in the administration’s ability to operate the sign-up Web site, let alone the benefits themselves, would be approaching the vanishing point.
But here they are, with their best option to say that they meant to have millions of Americans get dumped from their coverage and misled voters about that fact.
Why would a president who has claimed ignorance as a defense so many times before – a gun-running sting gone bad, doctored talking points about an Islamist raid, the targeting of his enemies by his IRS, the spying on his allies and fellow citizens and the targeting of unfriendly reporters – suddenly flinch at the idea of doing it again?
Perhaps it’s because he’s gone to that well too often of late. But it would seem to mostly be that Sebelius could get the Web site together. Now that’s quite a glitch.
Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C.