October 26, 2013

The Obamacare Blame-Game Olympics

Filed under: Health Care,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:51 pm

Democrats and “progressives” are blaming Republicans for the disastrous Obamacare rollout. It’s worth compiling a for-the-record list of the blame game’s participants, something which I’ll be doing throughout the rest of the day.

I’m not sure whether I’ll select medal winners. In the spirit of those “everybody wins for participating” trophies, maybe all of our named blame-gamers should receive gold-plated donkeys incscribed with “If You Like Your Plan, You Can Keep It — Suckers!”

Stay tuned as I work up the list.

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(noted on Thursday) “Elizabeth, NJ Mayor, Obamacare Truther, Thinks GOP Might Be Jamming Access to HealthCare.gov and Phone Lines”. Specifically, in a tweet, Mayor Chris Bollwage wondered:

Is it possible the Repub party is robot calling the affordable healthcare computers and phone lines in order to tie it up so results dismal”

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William Marshall at Fox News Politics, in a tweet: “(Congressman Henry) Waxman accuses the GOP of sabotaging Obama Care – what is wrong with these Dems – are they insane – no common sense ???”

More at the Hill (HT Weasel Zippers):

Several Dems, downplaying the significance of the enrollment problems, argued that Republicans were trying to scare the public into not obtaining healthcare.

Others suggested that the GOP’s questions were illegitimate because Republicans have sought many times to repeal ObamaCare.

“We have already documented a record of Republicans attempting to sabotage the Affordable Care Act,” said Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-Calif.).

Repeal” (“to revoke or annul [a law, tax, duty, etc.] by express legislative enactment”) is not a form of “sabotage” (“any undermining of a cause”), Henry. Obamacare is a law. If anyone has “undermined it,” it’s President Obama and his administration through a combination of waivers not authorized in the legislation (i.e., illegal) and incompetence in the law’s implementation.

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Ezra Klein at WaPo deserves the “comprehensive crybaby” gold. Klein is apparently trying to make up for his harsh critiques of HealthCare.gov’s rollout: “The GOP’s Obamacare chutzpah”

The classic definition of chutzpah is the child who kills his parents and then asks for leniency because he’s an orphan. But in recent weeks, we’ve begun to see the Washington definition: A party that does everything possible to sabotage a law and then professes fury when the law’s launch is rocky.

… How about House Republicans who refused to appropriate the money the Department of Health and Human Services said it needed to properly implement Obamacare?

There’s that stupid “S-word” again. This administration has deliberately run without a budget for four years. One motivation for that is to ensure that Kathleen Sebelius could do just about anything she wanted with Obamacare while escaping scrutiny for specific actions.

Continuing:

How about Senate Republicans who tried to intimidate Sebelius out of using existing HHS funds to implement Obamacare?

The operative word is “tried,” meaning they didn’t succeed. Yet they’re blamed anyway.

How about Republican governors who told the Obama administration they absolutely had to be left to build their own health-care exchanges — you’ll remember that the House Democrats’ health-care plan included a single, national exchange — and then refused to build, leaving the construction of 34 insurance marketplaces up to HHS?

Sorry, Ezra, this is drivel.

Can you imagine what things would be like right now if we had “a single, national exchange”? Some state exchanges are actually processing a tolerable number of apps, something HealthCare.gov is failing to do. The governors’ response after the law was passed was perfectly logical: “We’re not going to build exchanges for a government which is speeding towards bankruptcy and then depend on you to reimburse our construction and ongoing administrative costs forever.” (By the way, the financial argument is one of the best in a long string of arguments against expanding Medicaid.)

How about the coordinated Republican effort to get the law declared unconstitutional — an effort that ultimately failed, but that stalled implementation as government and industry waited for the uncertainty to resolve?

So I guess they should have just rolled over and said “okay”? Where is the concrete evidence that the constitutional challenges “stalled implementation” of a website which IT experts have said could have been built for a small fraction of what has been spent and committed?

The GOP’s strategy hasn’t just tried to win elections and repeal Obamacare. They’ve actively sought to sabotage the implementation of the law. They intimidated the people who were implementing the law. They made clear that problems would be exploited rather than fixed. A few weeks ago, they literally shut down the government because they refused to pass a funding bill that contiained money for Obamacare.

Yeah, let’s get to that.

The de-funding movement gained credibility because a) the Obama administration waived the employment mandate while unfailry retaining the individual mandate, and b) it became clear that disaster was about to strike, and that the administration didn’t care and was going to go ahead with implementation anyway. Without those two elements, the de-fund movement, while constitutionally sound, would not have gained the needed steam in the House.

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Sebeluis herself was in Austin, Texas yesterday doing PR while HealthCare.gov burns (latest nickname: Secretary Superfluous), and said:

“In an ideal world there would have been a lot more testing, but we did not have the luxury of that. And the law said the go-time was Oct. 1,” she said. “And frankly, a political atmosphere where the majority party, at least in the House, was determined to stop this anyway they possibly could … was not an ideal atmosphere.”

What in the bleep does the “political atmosphere” have to do with properly rolling out a flipping computer program? Answer: Nothing.

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No compendium of craziness would be complete without an entry from Ed Schultz: “MSNBC’s Ed Schultz on Half Billion Dollar ObamaCare Website: ‘It’s on the Cheap.’” Actually, the full cost of implementation is well over a billion, and counting.

And of course, it’s Republicans’ fault:

“Republicans refuse to authorize requests from the Obama administration for additional funding to do it the right way. Instead it’s on the cheap.”

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Howard Dean: “No, really, Republicans are to blame for ObamaCare fiasco”

“First off all, in fairness,” Howard Dean told the Morning Joe crew earlier today, ou have to blame Republicans for some of this because they delayed everything they possibly could.”

First we have to blame the party that (a) didn’t cast a single vote in favor of the ACA and (b) had no control over its 42-month rollout? At which stage in the process do we hold responsible the people who spent $400 million in three and a half years, and who assured everyone all along the way that things were going swimmingly?

“Totally unrelated” (actually, completely related):

… health care in Vermont may be headed for a unique train wreck due to its efforts to become the first state in the country to implement a single payer plan.

One of the president’s key selling points of the ACA was the promise that if you liked your plan, you could keep it. We’re learning that’s often not the case as Obamacare is implemented across the country. And in Vermont, there has been no pretense of such assurance.

As of January 1, 2014, in Vermont, the ability for individuals or employers with 50 or fewer employees to purchase health insurance from private insurance companies ceases to exist. As for policies already covering those businesses and individuals? Those cease to exist, as well. In other words, in Vermont, a good percentage of its population will have no choice but to buy health insurance through the state exchange.

But despite the urgency of getting the exchange launch right and the givens that should make it easier rather than difficult—small state, high rate of literacy, 98 percent English speaking—Vermont’s website seems as bad or worse than the federal system.

… Vermont now has the fifth highest health insurance premiums in the country, in part because of state regulations limiting competition. There’s no reason to believe that will improve, as only two companies are offering plans under the exchange.

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At Twitchy: “Deranged liberals blame Obamacare website failures on nefarious Kochspiracy”. Actual tweets posted:

  • “How do we know that the Koch machine did not pay pros to screw up the ACA website?”
  • “So Was it Sabotage? Koch Bros didn’t mind spending Millions to STOP #ACA know they will Millions to do whatever.”
  • “ACA is working. The sabotage from the Tea Pty, koch Bros and Jim Demint is not working. They are terrorists.”
  • If repubs are so anxious for Sebelius to testify abt #Obamacare glitches, so to should McConnell, Koch’s & media on their sabotage attempts.”
  • “Anyone wonder about sabotage in regard to the #ACA website? The Koch Bros certainly could fund a team of inside men writing faulty code.”
  • “How many trolls r the Koch bros paying 2 clog up the ACA website? Repub governors refused 2 set up exchanges 2 forcing the Feds 2 to do it.”

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Other prog and blog flogs:

  • Salon: “GOP’s Obamacare conspiracy: Sabotage from the inside”
  • Daily Kos: “Congratulations, Republicans. Your Obamacare sabotage has screwed over millions”
  • Bill Maher: “GOP ‘sabotaging’ Obamacare”
  • Daily Kos: “All right, I’ll ask it: Did the software firm sabotage healthcare.gov?” More: “do you really think that people would shut down the entire United States government and bring it to default to sabotage ACA but wouldn’t mess with proprietary code?”

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Simply put, Obamacare is a management failure based in cronyism and political paranoia. Republicans and conservatives aren’t responsible for any of that.

Saturday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (102613)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

This open thread will stay at or near the top today. Rules are here. Possible comment fodder may follow. Other topics are also fair game.

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4:50 p.m.: Per USA Today, regarding a point yours truly has raised a couple of times in the past two weeks, namely how federal workers who received back pay for the federal 17% shutdown period but filed for unemployment benefits will be handled — “laws in several states probably will allow workers to double-dip.”

But GovExec.com reports: “All states must recoup any unemployment payments made to federal employees furloughed by the shutdown, the Obama administration has advised” … “In Oregon, about 1,300 federal employees must return their $450 unemployment checks.”

I’m skeptical that Oregon will be able to claw the money back from everyone.

Positivity: George Weigel awarded for works on Blessed John Paul II

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Washington:

Oct 25, 2013 / 04:05 am

George Weigel was honored Oct. 22 with the Blessed John Paul II Award for the New Evangelization, for his work investigating the life and work of the late Pope.

Within modern society, the challenges of “coldness, unreality, religious freedom,” Weigel explained during his acceptance speech, “can seem overwhelming.”

However, he continued at the Oct. 22 awards dinner, martyrs and pilgrimage sites “remind us – don’t quit.”

“Christ has won the victory, so we can carry on in good spirits, as John Paul II did until the end of his life.”

The second-annual Blessed John Paul II Award Dinner for the New Evangelization was hosted by the Catholic Information Center in Washington, D.C., which bestowed upon papal biographer George Weigel its highest honor.

The Catholic Information Center is a nonprofit affiliate of the Archdiocese of Washington, and provides a number of cultural and intellectual events for Catholics in the Washington, D.C. area.

Also speaking at the dinner were Laura Ingraham, master of ceremonies; Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganó, apostolic nuncio to the U.S., who gave the opening benediction; and Fr. Arne Panula, director of the Catholic Information Center.

Weigel, who is known for his biographical work on John Paul II’s life, centered his discussion on the late Pope’s visit to the Holy Land in 2000.

During his visit to the Holy Land, Pope John Paul II “wanted to carry the entire Church to the places of salvation history,” Weigel explained, so that the Church could viscerally encounter “the stuff of God become man, God entering into history for the salvation of the world.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.