As of now, I am in control here, in the White House

Blame Obama First

The failed health care website and exchange was a President Obama Production from the start, and he bears direct responsibility for the botched rollout of his signature initiative.

That’s the message within – though of course not explicitly stated – a brilliantly reported story by the Washington Post that popped up over the weekend describing the internal machinery and machinations that resulted in the fiasco known as

Obama, the piece makes clear, chose a flawed team to implement the Affordable Care Act.

What’s more, he was apprised of how things were going during regular progress meetings, and either his aides didn’t inform him that catastrophe was headed his way or they did and he failed to correct course or delay implementation. Either way, his management was incompetent.

According to the piece, Obama ignored the advice of his top economic aides, National Economic Council Director Larry Summers and OMB Director Peter Orszag, to put a “czar” with expertise in business, insurance and technology in charge of the project. Instead, he went with health care wonks like Nancy-Ann DeParle and Jeanne Lambrew.

From the piece:

“They were running the biggest start-up in the world, and they didn’t have anyone who had run a start-up, or even run a business,” said David Cutler, a Harvard professor and health adviser to Obama’s 2008 campaign . . . It’s very hard to think of a situation where the people best at getting legislation passed are best at implementing it. They are a different set of skills.

But why not, from Obama’s point of view? I mean, Obama’s running the country without a scintilla of experience relative to the job. Why would his Obamacare team need any?

Having put people in charge who were not competent to do the job, Obama then watched over them.

(The exchange) was not ready (October 1) even though, for months beginning last spring, the president emphasized the exchange’s central importance during regular staff meetings to monitor progress. No matter which aspects of the sprawling law had been that day’s focus, the official said, Obama invariably ended the meeting the same way: “All of that is well and good, but if the Web site doesn’t work, nothing else matters.”

This belies two points central to the recent White House spin. First of all, if Obama really didn’t understand the problems with the website and the rollout, he should have, because he should have picked it up at regular staff meetings to monitor progress. Obama either has aides who are unwilling to be straight with him or he has engendered atmosphere – likely one subsumed by politics – which doesn’t encourage advisers to be honest with the president.

According to the piece, aides were aware as early as the end of 2012 that work was lagging dangerously behind.

This makes Obama a feckless manager. What’s more, I’m not convinced he didn’t understand the gravity of the situation and just chose to roll ahead anyway. Either he or his aides may have decided to move ahead in order to deny victory to Republicans demanding an Obamacare delay.

Also untrue would be the repeated White House effort to downplay the catastrophe with spin such as, “Obamacare is more than just a website.” Well, someone should inform Obama, who said, “nothing else matters” without it.

Meanwhile, without adult supervision, the implementation project devolved into a disorganized mess.

From the piece:

The Medicaid center’s chief operating officer, a longtime career staffer named Michelle Snyder, nominally oversaw the various pieces, but, as one former administration official put it: “Implementing the exchange was one of 39 things she did. There wasn’t a person who said, ‘My job is the seamless implementation of the Affordable Care Act.’ ”

They couldn’t even get the principals to meetings:

A higher-level monthly meeting, intended to work through tough regulatory questions, was attended at first by Sebelius, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes. By late summer and early fall of 2010, the meetings petered out after some of the participants stopped attending, according to a former senior administration official.

Politics governed timelines:

Meanwhile, the White House also slowed down important regulations that had been drafted within CMS months earlier, appearing to wait until just after Obama’s reelection. Among the most significant were standards for insurance coverage under exchanges. The rules for these “essential health benefits” were proposed just before Thanksgiving last year and did not become final until February. Another late regulation spelled out important rules for insurance premiums . . .

A former HHS official said . . . “You had the policy people, largely at the White House, pushing the deadlines and tinkering with the policy, rather than the people who had to run the critical operating path design and program the system.”

The White House has pushed the buck in every direction but the Oval Office. But the Resolute Desk – the historic piece of furniture Obama often has his shoe on – is where the buck must stop.

53 Responses to Blame Obama First

  1. That is a great article, Keith. Thanks for pointing it out. It has been a long long time since I have seen any investigative reporting of that caliber coming out of the Washington ComPost.

    Yes, Obama does own this. And as much as they now try to disassociate his name away from the UnAffordable Don’tCare Act, it will prove difficult when one sees actual video of the Chief Narcissist himself calling it ‘ObamaCare’.

    I loathe being on the same side as Peter Orzag and that perpetual idiot Larry Summers, but they recognized the design failure from the beginning. And that is the tell – ObamaCare was designed to fail from the very beginning. The designers built it this way to drive insurers out of the market, while fully expecting the people to support government filling that void. But I believe they may have overreached. Instead of a public uprising clamoring for single-payer, what I think will happen instead is a public uprising to get government the hell out of the way.

    I hope that this WaPo piece is not an outlier, but instead marks a return to the investigative reporting that put them on the map to begin with.

    • I agree. Even though some Dems (and MrsSillybus) tried to protect MrObama by claiming he wasn’t aware of the problems and fiasco about to be made public on Oct 1, this piece puts the whole thing in a new perspective. MrObama was invovled thoughout the whole process, and had to be the one to make the final decision to go ahead with the rollout.

      The reasons for allowing this mess to be made public aren’t clear. No private company would go public with something they absolutely knew wouldn’t work, so what benefit did the WhiteHouse see to going forward? If they assumed that the MSM would cover or spin the fiasco for them, or that the Repubs would somehow be blamed for individuals losing their health insurance, it was obvious from day 2 that those fantasies wouldn’t fly.

      • Did you catch Sebelius hot mic remark ‘don’t do this to me’. That
        was in the Daily Mail sure HHS SEC it’s all fine to screw millions of Americans but not me.

    • Seems to me more like a laundry list of to-do’s …a mea culpa…to calm the waters..and quell the masses

      Trust nothing any liberal does

      They want to win elections and the anger out there concerns them…but only that it could catch fire and perhaps loose them an election…This is mainly …all about 2014.

      Remember the Washington Post has Soros’s hand in it…and was the Patron of Saul Alinsky…

  2. This probably belongs on the Obama schedule thread, do we know what he’s doing on Nov 19 yet? He declined this invite:

    It’s just a short hop away on Marine One and he’s sending his Interior sec instead ? I’m thinking he didn’t have a choice, someone else made up his mind, someone who didn’t understand the significance of the event? Conflict with a fundraiser is what I’m guessing :D

    • Lincoln’s words directly address the survival of the Republic which goes against what Obama stands for. Lincoln dedicated his Presidency to ensure that a “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth”. Obama is dedicating his Presidency to ensure that such a government does indeed perish. Never has Obama been dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

    • Why should he care? As far as I can tell, people who have a strong affinity for studying the Civil War tend to be right of center, so it’s not like he’s going to anger his base (which is all he’s got left, seems like).

  3. I really believe this was designed to fail in order for a single payer system to evolve. The problem is American’s aren’t accepting it and want no part of it.

  4. To top it all off, they sic the cadaverous Ezekiel Emanuel onto Chris Wallace/Fox News Sunday to insist, in a most obnoxious manner, that everything is just peachy and Obama did not tell any lies.
    It would be laughable if it weren’t so scary.

  5. The rollout is merely a symptom of the cancer that has been metastasizing through the body politic for the past 5 years – Obama and his Marxist regime. The highlight for me was yesterday when one of the architects of Obama’s namesake legislation, Zeke Emanual, appeared on a few programs screaming false narratives, blaming insurance companies. If there was ever a more boorish, thuggish, rude, obnoxious human being – I have yet to meet one.

    Obama’s character flaws are deeply embedded; his lies are pathological. IMO, the deliberate mis-representation of the cornerstone of Obamacare, keeping your plan and your doctor, is a criminal act. It cost us the 2012 election and has changed the fabric of this country…forever.

    We need to cut our losses – impeach Obama or force him to resign ASAP before he does more damage with immigration and climate control. We are at a crossroad – a point of no return.

  6. It is all a fraud with inducement to have people bereft of insurance because of his pressure on the ins. companies to withdraw individual plans to enroll. It was never meant to work. It was to be a mechanism to capture the middle class into eventually medicaid. Just listen or read the evil Ezechiel Emmanuel. My advice just say “No” and let the weapon implode.

    • The problem is that in a few months people in treatment, people who have a heart attack, people with chronically ill kids will not have coverage of any sort…Damage has already been done!

        • That came up on Fox & Friends. No number given. When people find out their deducitble, even if they do get some policy, they won’t go until late in any disease process. I put off docs all the time bec of just the copay!

          • I’ve been hearing that deductibles are soaring for some. So, before they get coverage for a disease they already have, and which was covered under their old policy, they’ll have to pay a lot of money out of their pockets.

  7. It is all a fraud with inducement to have people bereft of insurance because of his pressure on the ins. companies to withdraw individual plans to enroll. It was never meant to work. It was to be a mechanism to capture the middle class into eventually medicaid. Just listen or read the evil Ezechiel Emmanuel. My advice just say “No” and let the weapon implode.
    Also, did you know that the silicon geniuses offered to fix it and Obama said no. Everybody that has worked on it is an insider . He did not want the silicone geniuses to know that it wasa not supposed to work.

  8. “Obama either has aides who are unwilling to be straight with him or he has engendered atmosphere – likely one subsumed by politics – which doesn’t encourage advisers to be honest with the president.”
    This is quite common in dictatorships.

  9. OT: kinda sorta
    The WashPost piece was pretty damaging and really dug deep into the making of the ACA.
    Question; how long does it take to put together a piece like that? A lot of people (or someone who claims to know everything) had to be interviewed, dates had to be verified, and the article wasn’t pounded out overnight. It must have been reviewed by higher-ups, edited, whatever.

    So, just how long ago was this piece put together? Anyone….

  10. I commented on the WaPo article yesterday when srdem brought it up and Keith gave a link. I still think in the end the WaPo really blamed the Republicans and not Obama. “Brilliant” yes, but deceptively brilliant.

  11. Everyone keeps missing the brilliant Republican strategy to prevent any delay in Obamacare, and push the whole mess in front of the oncoming train as quickly as possible. Knowing that Obama’s nature is to oppose anything the Republicans say or do, the GOP kept demanding and threatening a delay of implementation. That caused Obama and his nitwit “team” of dunderheads just to dig in their heals and insist that Opening Day occur as scheduled. The GOP tricked idiot Obama into shooting himself in the foot. And they say the Republicans are the stupid ones………

    • I agree the regime has been caught in the Big Lie, although it wasn’t the GOP that brought it about. It was the Cruz-Lee defunding petition and Cruz’s 21+ hour Obamacare filibuster. The RINOs fought against the defund/delay effort every step of the way. If the GOP wins, it will be in spite of themselves, and it will be because of these two patriots.

  12. Excellent Keith. If Congress cannot act on behalf of the American people and repeal this legislation — every single word of it then none of them deserve a dollar or a vote. A delay does nothing. Repeal it and the remainder of Obama’s term can be spent re assembling what was and making reasonable incremental reform. This is nuts.

    Apparently Obama who is quoted as saying he is good at killing people does it with drones and Obamacare.

  13. This whole Presidency is no more than a board game to Obama he is
    playing at being President. He has the attention span of a gnat he starts one game leaves it and starts another. He lies as easily as he breathes.
    Never a care to the ramifications to real people his inept games are having he doesn’t care. Hopefully this abomination of ACA will finally
    have an affect perhaps even the media will emerge from hibernation. God help us all.

  14. OT, sort of. God save us from Republicans. The focus of the country is now on Obamacare, and what does Republican Senator from Maine Susan Collins do? She helps the Democrats out by distraction and sponsoring a bill at ending workplace discrimination, for example, against gays.

  15. To me, this piece is a subtle way of shifting the blame from Obama to his staffers. “Obama invariably ended the meeting the same way: “All of that is well and good, but if the Web site doesn’t work, nothing else matters.””

    To me that says, “See, the President was telling everyone every day how important the ACA was to get right, but his staffers let him down, they didn’t listen. They lied to him about how the implementation was going.”

  16. Again Obama the “smartest” person in the room missed the boat. If not, he is not honest with himself and to the people who voted for him. Again, this President is not the President of all people, only he acts as a leader of his party.