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Did the Shutdown Campaign Force the Doomed Website Rollout?

As Washington decrees the Tea Party-backed refusal to fund the government a failure, it seems at least possible that the strategy may have inadvertently achieved its goal of doing damage to Obamacare by forcing President Obama to roll out the Healthcare.gov website prematurely.

There now is little question that the Obamacare website – which allows people to sign up for insurance through the health care exchanges – is not only an abject failure. It’s also clear that the administration was well aware it was going to fail – whatever the traffic levels.

According to the Washington Post, the website crashed “days before the launch” in a simulation conducted by government officials and contractors who tested only a few hundred users trying to log in at once. Catastrophe at launch time was inevitable, egg was destined for all faces involved, and the public was bound to be frustrated and disappointed.

The decision to move ahead anyway makes sense, though, if you look at the context of the October 1 rollout. Because as a political matter, a delay is the one thing the White House could not allow.

Obama and Republicans were engaged in PR warfare over conservatives’ vow to end funding for the government and refuse a debt ceiling increase unless the Obamacare exchanges were delayed for a year. October 1, by awful coincidence for the White House, was also the very day the money would run out as the fiscal year ended, and the shutdown would begin.

The White House believed Republicans held a losing hand and would suffer politically for their stance. But delaying Obamacare would have amounted to a stunning reversal in the shutdown battle, giving sudden credence to the the conservatives’ argument that Obamacare must be pushed back.

By delaying Obamacare for even several months, the White House would have appeared to be caving in to GOP demands. Valid claims that the website wasn’t ready might even have been laughed off by analysts who would have pronounced Obama a weakling who buckled under pressure from the Tea Party.

And so the White House went ahead and let the website go live. It’s failure could cause the destruction of Obamacare itself. And conservatives, by sticking to their guns long enough, may have ruined Obamacare in a manner they never anticipated.

It’s a theory, true. But it helps make perfect sense out of what is an otherwise incomprehensible decision to unveil the lynchpin of Obamacare, even though it was bound to fail.

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66 Responses to Did the Shutdown Campaign Force the Doomed Website Rollout?

  1. Wasn’t Obama advised it wasn’t ready ? It was never Beta tested either, I’m no tech expert, but I think the bus drivers in your quote today would have thought to test it first :D

  2. We had our first Obamacare Q & A here last night. 50 people attended. A few people found out they would not get Obamacare insurance. They were shocked. They said that the president had promised Obamacare for everyone.

  3. Wasn’t October 15 supposed to be the rollout date? This is the WaPo helping Obama blame the Republicans for HIS failure. It’s never-ending.

  4. “Valid claims that the website wasn’t ready might even have been laughed off by analysts who would have pronounced Obama a weakling who buckled under pressure from the Tea Party.”

    As opposed to a weakling who wouldn’t swallow his pride and admit it wasn’t ready for prime time. His resolute declaration to not negotiate seems even more petty now in the face of this boondoggle.

    • To us here at WHD…but to the general public? Most of them still think they will have free health insurance with no deductibles.
      Are the navigators on a commission based compensation based on number of (s)aps signed up?
      Are the navigators (no doubt about this in my mind) are the same low lifes who sign up Mickey Mouse, etc., etc., etc. as legitimate voters.
      Seriously – the emperor has no clothes and somebody in power needs to recognize The One’s nakedness.

    • The libs love to cherry-pick portions of conservatives’ presentation in order to tar them with the “liar” brush.

      In fact, I think the writer is a bigger liar. This quote –

      “I tried an experiment and shopped on the exchange for Allison and Kurt. Assuming they don’t smoke and have a household income too high to be eligible for subsidies, I found that they would be able to get a plan for around $7,600, which would include coverage for their uninsured daughter. This would be about a 60 percent reduction from what they would have to pay on the pre-Obamacare market.”

      id, I believe, a complete fabrication.

      In order to receive a quote, it is required that one enter ALL personal information – including Social Security Number – which, if made up, would not pass, and, if a real one was used, along with made-up data as to income and other details, would put the real person in jeopardy when the truth was found out.

      Do not trust anything you see on Salon or Huffington post.

  5. MrO: That big-mouth Cruz is warning that if we stick the gun down our pants we’ll shoot ourselves in the groin. We’ll show him.
    Bang.

    There has to be more to this rollout than what we can see or hear. They knew it was going to fail, so they just did it anyway and that is insanity, not political upmanship.
    If it was never known as “Obamacare”, but just the ACA, would that have made a difference?.

    IMO, it was MrO’s red-line fiasco that told the tale of what was to come. He was willing to hurl bombs at a foreign country and start a new war, rather than admit he shouldn’t have said what he did.
    With a forgiving national press on his side, he could have said he was mislead, misinformed, spoke hastily, or whatever, and the Press would have spun it to show how humble and thoughtful he is.

    So, Obamacare’s marketplace doesn’t work from the log-on and they knew it days or weeks in advance, who knows when, and frightened of the public knowing the Repubs are right about anything, they allow themselves to be ridiculed in a way we haven’t seen for five years……

  6. Here’s my theory: they are a bunch of dunces. I can’t explain it any other way, unless they are crazy like a fox and are Bobby Fischer-like 20 or more moves ahead of their opponents. I classify the opponents as Republicans, Conservatives, Tea party, and the American people.

  7. Rubio is going to propose a bill delaying the individual mandate for six months, and there are hints Obama will go along. So how will this be spun? To make the Cruz/Lee strategy look bad and to prove that we can all get along if we just work in one big bipartisan fashion? I think Obama, the Democrats, and the RINOs will play it that way. And the press of course.

  8. You nailed it, Keith. “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

    There was a point mid-way through the shutdown when Boehner suddenly stopped talking about defunding Obamacare and switched to the economy – jobs, etc. Did he acquire some inside info as to the magnitude of the computer ‘glitches’? Throwing a lifeline to Obama (defunding Obamacare) would not be nearly a much fun as watching him being hoisted by his own petard.

    The website is only the tip of the iceberg. In the weeks and months to come, the real horrors will become a reality. Perfect timing for the mid-term election.

  9. “As Washington decrees the Tea Party-backed refusal to fund the government a failure…”

    Gee, never knew that dastardly Tea Party has such power in Washington, D.C. To think, this ragtag group of less than 100 members in Congress could single-handedly take over the machinations of this regime and slow it down to 80% of its capacity. Guess the Tea Party also directed NPS to rent Barrycades, harass park visitors, and print the shutdown notices ahead of time as well. If the Tea Party keeps this up, we’ll have the D.C. swamp drained in no time! NOT.

  10. Excellent analysis, Keith.

    But, ironically, the shutdown is likely to be a major part of the WH spin to try to find an excuse for the disaster. Even though it makes no sense, we’ll likely hear more of this:

    “Remember that Republicans have been fighting and trying to obstruct this program since day one, making its success almost impossible. If the other party had lived up to their responsibility to support the law, we wouldn’t have had many of these problems”.

    Considering that only 49% of Americans think that the rollout is “not going well”, that argument, with the usual media support, may very well resonate among the masses.

    • IMO, the “Repubs” are at least partially responsible for this fiasco. The HHS, and the WhiteHouse assumed that the red states, led by Repub governors, would step up and form their own websites, butt the Supremes said the states didn’t have to do that.
      Then, the HHS discovered that they alone would need to set up marketplaces in dozens of states and were not prepared to do that. Hence, Repubs are at fault for the disaster, in a convoluted reasoning process. The Dems are angry that the Repubs in Congress didn’t just say, OK we’ll help with the ACA, too.
      The ACA/Obamacare is all Dem, all the time, and by attaching the President’s name to it, he owns it, too.

      • I also worried about calling it Obamacare. I thought it would be harder to get rid of than the ACA. Since the rollout has been such a disaster, maybe Obamacareless is a better term.

    • The same people who thought the EBT glitch was caused by the government shutdown… will be easily led to think the ACA glitch was caused by the government shutdown.

  11. The government never fails. No matter how corrupt, how useless its agencies and programs are, nor how much of taxpayer’s money is wasted and redistributed to favored groups and companies, how destructive its policies are, and how it dominates everything relative to human life, it never fails because it feeds upon the premise that it, and only it, is the savior of mankind.

  12. 1. Actually the legal requirements of the Affordable Care Act have already been rejected by the President. Gone is the employer mandate, the cap on out of pocket expenses, the income verification and over half the deadlines specified in the law. The President has illegally delayed or done away with these features without Congressional Approval. In addition, the Administration gave 1,472 waivers and created a subsidy for Congress that no one else in American earning $174,000 a year can get. The Supreme Court has ruled twice that The Presidents cannot delay, amend and repeal parts of laws they don’t like but this Administration ignores law.

    2. The sites are setup so that if you have a low credit score you cannot buy insurance through the exchanges. I believe you have to have a 660 score to qualify for most of the exchange plans otherwise you’ll just have to pay the fines. Few of the poor have that ‘high’ credit score. You can attempt to get on Medicaid if your State chose to expand it but many did not.

    3. Healthcare.gov wants a valid bank account number to automatically draft the monthly payments for the plan you choose. Verification of this information (and the credit info) is one of the reasons the system ‘hangs’ so long for applicants. The wise would setup and use a pre-paid, re-loadable gift card account and NOT give them your regular bank account numbers or regular credit card to use. Otherwise they will use your regular account whenever, and for whatever amounts they want.

    4. Also not being discussed is that HealthCare.gov appears to fall under the umbrella of the National Archives and Records Administration, which gives all agencies large leeway on record-keeping for administrative, legal, audit or other operational purposes.

    In short, once they get your personal information it cannot be deleted, it never gives it up, can be shared throughout Government and may be placed in the public domain.

  13. Is this another one of the unglamorous fights Keith posted about the other day?

    A challenge by a group of individuals and businesses to the IRS’ enforcement of a provision of the federal health care law survived the government’s attempt to dismiss the case, but a judge denied the plaintiffs’ bid for an early injunction blocking the regulation at issue.

    U.S. District Senior Judge Paul Friedman today denied the government’s request to dismiss the case, which was based on an argument that the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue. The judge also denied the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction, finding they failed to show at this stage of the case they were likely to succeed on the merits or face “irreparable” harm without an immediate order.

    SNIP

    The plaintiffs are challenging a rule making tax credits available to low- and middle-income residents of states that declined to set up health care exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. The IRS regulation violates the text of the health care law, the plaintiffs alleged, and would subject individuals and certain employers to the law’s coverage requirements and penalties for failing to comply.

    SNIP

    http://legaltimes.typepad.com/blt/2013/10/no-early-injunction-in-challenge-to-health-care-regulation.html

  14. I emailed my useless “Sens.” and “Rep.” and asked if ObamaCare is sooo wonderful (!) why didnt they, their families or staffs sign up for ObamaCare…

    I never got a response.

  15. So the administration had 3 years to build, test and perfect the obamacare website and failed miserably. I’m beginning to understand the logic proposed by some that this was part of the plan, that we the people would opt to let the government have total control thru a single payer system. We would willingly throw our hands up and cast ourselves at the feet of the mighty bureaucrats. Let’s pray “they” have seriously underestimated “us”.