Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius got a drubbing from Congress for the “debacle” of the HealthCare.Gov rollout. Yet her “taking responsibility” for the site’s failures and lack of end-to-end testing only to continue business as usual is unacceptable. President Obama campaigned ceaselessly for his signature legislation. His legacy paramount, he spent so much time pushing it, and pushing Congress to focus on it, that jobs jobs jobs were, shamefully, relegated to the back burner time and again, no matter how dire the need to redirect his focus. Despite all this attention, the result has been amateurish and abysmal.
This is not about Sebelius’ resignation, but a much larger issue. Setting aside for the moment problems with the law itself, which relies on a risky set of assumptions in order to work as predicted, if the job done implementing this website is any indication, we are in for a rough ride. Joe Biden confessed he didn’t bother getting on the website because he knew he wouldn’t be able to. In one of his “rhetorical flourishes,” he offered: “It really is inexcusable.” Mr. Vice President, I couldn’t have said it better.
The health care overhaul comprises one sixth of the economy. This Administration, Secretary Sebelius and those who designed the law had three and a half years to make sure this would not be the disaster it was at the time of launch. We are not talking about a few glitches here. The very least we should expect was that our vast resources would be spent on those capable of designing this program, not that it be awarded as a no-bid contract to a less than competent organization.
Even from an optics standpoint, when you know your political foes are waiting for an excuse to rip you to shreds, common sense dictates you pay close attention to every detail. Instead we got the opposite, which is telling in itself. No matter who else apologizes for this mess, the President’s name will forever be associated with it. If it were me, I’d have been knocking heads together daily to ensure it had a better start. Three and a half years! Who in the private sector could do a slipshod job like that and get away with it? Well, big bankers, but more on that later.
This rollout bespeaks an alarming lack of respect for the American people. Those living in a rarified air could give a good damn about the stress or wasted time they cost those who elected them in good faith, or who have health care problems they are anxious to solve. The manner of this implementation is just as bad as the President averring that if you like your health care plan and your doctor, you can keep them. Period.
Bill Maher again left the convenient safety of his “I’m just a comic” identity to run defense on Piers Morgans’ MSNBC show, saying that the President “had to lie” otherwise the law would not have gotten passed. I disagree, not only with Maher’s premise, but its inherent arrogance.
Maher’s statement is not unlike Phil Griffin, head of NBC, who defended the misogynist Keith Olbermann in 2008 for his sexist diatribes by referring to him as a “bad boyfriend,” stating that in the end, you’ll always take him back because you have “nowhere else to go.”
The Obama administration must believe we have nowhere else to go either. Leaders of both parties treat us the same way. They assume we’ll stamp our feet and in the end acquiesce, too exhausted, cynical or complacent to organize and throw them out of office. Sadly, this determination is often correct.
We knew health care costs were skyrocketing and in need of a fix. Imagine what might have been accomplished with honest dialogue rather than backdoor deals, double talk and bullying. Now we are forced to face the price tag – and the dishonestly that got us here – for which we have little recourse.
Maher’s assertion that we need to be lied to assumes that we do not have the capacity to understand the need for complex change. That is false. It is also false to assume we don’t know the difference between magical thinking and reality. And even if some wish to delude themselves and believe whatever pabulum is offered, the job of our leaders then, is to educate, not bamboozle.
News coverage, even by President Obama’s defenders has been rightfully brutal. When you’ve lost Jon Stewart and Richard Cohen of the Washington Post, you’ve got a problem. But we’ve got nowhere else to go, right?
This is not the first time, or the first Administration, to lie to the American people. But with each passing year, the behavior seems more brazen. Yellow cake, anyone? Shovel ready jobs? NSA spying? How about “Too Big to Fail”?
Since the crash that occurred during the transition between Presidents Bush and Obama, Congress’ personal investment coffers have flourished. Not so for us suckers out here on the ground. In what some called the “Blackberry Panic of 2008,” both the Bush Administration and this one made the middle class the guarantors for the immoral behavior of big banks. The stock market lost half its value and accomplished the desired result. While we bailed out those who were “too big to fail’, those institutions considered “too small to save” were eaten, and at a bargain price. How convenient.
People lost their homes and savings. Big banks got bigger and whatever meager settlements culpable institutions have had to pay, they have come out ahead in their cost/benefit analysis. Again, we are being laughed at every step of the way.
President Obama, facing falling approval ratings, again rode roughshod over the current disastrous narrative, stating that the vast majority can keep their health plans. Evidence shows that between 50%-75% of the 14 million American people who have individual plans will have to switch, some getting better coverage to be sure (albeit with a much heftier price tag); and some will be forced onto plans offering services they do not need or want.
This mess feels too messy to be accidental. Perhaps this is a “crazy like a fox” methodology for getting us onto single payer. Again, we are treated like children as if we do not know what is good for us and don’t have the right to be asked; just manipulated.
Whatever the endgame, no one should need a magic decoder ring to figure out the truth behind the words of any Commander in Chief. A staunch defender, Jason Linkins of Huffington Post, stepped up to do a “what the President really meant was….” That many on that website would thank him for the “translation” rather than being outraged at the need for it defies all logic.
Bill Maher, like the man he spent one million dollars of his own money helping to re-elect, evidences a frivolous attitude toward the people who pay the President his salary and that of Congress. Even in the unlikely event that this health care law turned out to be the greatest thing since sliced bread, this rollout and the accompanying doubletalk is humiliating. Worse, the 24-hour news cycle and its endless distractions provide natural cover preventing anyone from being held culpable, all but promising we will get more of the same.
Originally published on EPIC TIMES.