From the very first day of his administration, Obama always had a scapegoat in George Bush. No matter what went wrong, it was Bush’s fault. With the Obamacare debacle, though, there’s no way that Obama and crew can blame George Bush. That hasn’t stopped them from finding a new scapegoat, though. This time the fault lies with the entire Republican Party. According to an administration insider, the administration was so terrified of the Republicans that it was unable to do even the most basic troubleshooting to ensure the exchanges’ success.
Obamacare’s centerpiece was always going to be the “exchanges.” As Kathleen Sebelius told Jon Stewart, the exchanges are just like Kayak, a website that allows customers to find cheap airfares. Unlike Kayak, though, which requires only three pieces of information (flight date, departure airport, and arrival airport), Obamacare requires that the applicants enter their entire medical and financial history before it decides whether the applicant must pay full fare or qualifies for subsidies. Only then does it identify a handful of applicable policies, all of which have rigid statutory requirements that may not meet the customer’s needs.
Of course, that’s assuming Obamacare works. The last two-and-a-half weeks have established conclusively that the exchanges are a complete and total disaster. On the very first day, people could not get onto the system, the system lost their passwords, and entire sectors of the system honestly announced that they had no content. Of the few thousand who finally got onto the system, many were shocked to learn that their premiums and deductibles had increased, not decreased. Insurance companies were also shocked because, despite all the data the exchanges require the consumer to enter, the companies weren’t getting the information they actually needed to issue policies.
In the first couple of days, the Obama administration tried bluffing by saying that so many people were signing up, the exchanges were just overwhelmed by traffic. That bluff failed when it was pointed out that myriad sites handle much more traffic on a routine basis. The administration then pretended it couldn’t possibly know how many people had successfully signed up. Apparently it wasn’t able to count up to double or triple digits.
Eventually, the real story came out: The Obama administration used a no-bid process to award the job to a company so bad that the Canadian government had fired it. The code design is at least ten years out of date. Worse, the administration never properly tested the system. It just spent three-and-a-half years building it.
Since the buck never stops anywhere near the Obama administration, the administration has officially announced who is at fault for this failure. Politico reports that a scapegoat has been found – dastardly Republicans who terrified the administration:
Facing such intense opposition from congressional Republicans, the administration was in a bunker mentality as it built the enrollment system, one former administration official said. Officials feared that if they called on outsiders to help with the technical details of how to run a commerce website, those companies could be subpoenaed by Hill Republicans, the former aide said. So the task fell to trusted campaign tech experts.
Not only was the administration worried that Republicans would point and laugh, it’s now complaining that $1 billion was nowhere near enough money – but that it couldn’t ask the mean Republicans for more:
Former Obama administration Medicare and Medicaid chief Don Berwick told POLITICO that the early implementation years were marked by a shortage of funds. “The total implementation budget for Obamacare in the first two years, as I recall, was something in the order of $1 billion. The resources were spread quite thin and it was not possible at that time to get more resources from Congress,” he said. “We really wished there were more. The money wasn’t there.”
In other words, the official administration party line is that the system is perfect in theory. To the extent it has any failures in fact, that’s all because Republicans were mean, scary, and cheap. We’re reminded that, when you point out to communists the fact that their “perfect” system has never worked when implemented, whether in the former Soviet Union, North Korea, Cuba, or anywhere else, they will always say that the system is perfect, it’s the users who are flawed.