That’s a dangerous combination but that pretty aptly describes the ObamaCare roll out (ObamaCare is a name that the administration and Democrats would now like to distance themselves from).
It seems now that “no one knew” that the roll out was going to be a disaster because, well, no one knew. Gee, maybe they should have asked the IT guy:
A key player in the development of the Obamacare website said Tuesday that up to 40 percent of IT systems supporting the exchange still need to be built.
The revelation from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Deputy Chief Information Officer Henry Chao occurs as the administration works to meet its Nov. 30 deadline to shore up the website.
40% of the supporting systems … still need to be built?!
And no one knew? That’s freaking mindboggling. You have a system that is 40% incomplete, you’re the head of a department charged with rolling out the system and you don’t know it’s not even close to being ready?
“It’s not that it’s not working,” Chao told lawmakers at an Energy and Commerce oversight subcommittee hearing. “It’s still being developed and tested.”
Phenomenal. If incompetence could be bottled, this administration could corner the market.
Financial management tools remain unfinished, he said, particularly the process that will deliver payments to insurers.
The update hits hardest at Democrats, hopeful that the system would function smoothly by the end of the month.
Chao said that the consumer portion of the website, including account registration, plan shopping and enrollment functions, won’t be affected by the ongoing development effort, but that “back office” functions including accounting and payment systems were not yet complete.
Did this boob tell anyone? And if he did, didn’t they listen? How do the insurance companies get paid? And until they are, how can any insurance plan go into effect?
My goodness … why wasn’t Chao sounding the alarms?
Oh, wait, see, he really didn’t know either:
He also told lawmakers he didn’t see a spring report that warned of potential stumbles and foreshadowed many of the problems that thwarted the website’s launch.
“I was aware some document was being prepared,” he said, but had no knowledge of a report until it was leaked to The Washington Post and obtained by POLITICO.
Chao told the House Energy & Commerce oversight subcommittee that he may have answered questions for the study but was not involved in any briefings on it.
The report, which independent consulting firm McKinsey conducted for CMS, described a process that relied too heavily on outsider contractors, didn’t provide enough time for complete testing and failed to hand authority to one decision maker. Chao’s limited knowledge of the report feeds lawmakers’ frustrations with the site’s fractured management and unclear controls.
These are the people who would run your healthcare (and everything else in you life if you’d let them) and make it both cheaper and better (and a good number of Americans swallowed that snake oil and ordered another bottle).
Oh, by the way, speaking of trust in government, did you know the jobs numbers were faked by the Census Bureau on the eve of the 2012 election?
Edward Luce, writing in the Financial Times, certainly seems to think so:
Anyone wondering about the scale of the anti-Obama backlash should look at its impact on the 2016 US presidential race. Both major parties are looking for candidates with genuine executive experience. The Republican list of hopefuls is filling up with sitting governors. Among Democrats, hopes rest mainly with Hillary Clinton. Should Elizabeth Warren, the popular senator from Massachusetts, enter the fray Mrs Clinton’s riposte would trip off the tongue. Ms Warren has no governing experience, she could say. And we all know the risks of that.
Having authored an inspirational politics, President Barack Obama’s difficulties are spawning a new fashion for perspiration. Given its limited powers, the strength of the US presidency derives largely from its occupant’s credibility.
Faith in Mr Obama’s competence was already negative. Doubts now extend to his personal integrity. A majority of Americans tell pollsters that they no longer believe he is always telling the truth. Were Mr Obama in a different system, he would be fending off a leadership challenge or facing a snap election. Since the US constitution rules out those options, Mr Obama is in danger of becoming a permanent lame duck.
I’d say that was a pretty fair summary of the depth of Obama’s problems. It reminds many of the George H. W. Bush “read my lips” moment, only on steroids. In both cases, personal credibility suffered. It is also interesting to read the first paragraph. Suddenly the experience of actually having run something or done something besides promote yourself all your life is in demand.
But Luce makes some important points – especially with the line, “Given its limited powers, the strength of the US presidency derives largely from its occupant’s credibility.” Mr. Obama has trampled his. And, unfortunately for Democrats, he continues to do so. Luce gives a bit of insight for that as well:
But Mr Obama’s problems derive chiefly from his tendency to react politically to events, rather than from a lack of time. His fumbling response to the woes engulfing the Affordable Care Act show how hard it is for him to kick the habit – even if the remainder of his presidency depends on it.
Pinpoint accuracy in describing the major problem of this administration. As I’ve said many times, it is all politics all the time with them. And for such a politically astute group while on the campaign trail, they are incredibly inept in the use of politics while governing. That’s mainly because the only experience they have is with politics – certainly not with governing.
Mr Obama has continually promised more from his signature healthcare reform than it can deliver. In addition to telling Americans that they could keep their insurance if they liked it – a pledge that millions now know was untrue – Mr Obama said the law would extend coverage to the one in six uninsured Americans, reduce costs for the other five and improve delivery for all six.
There ought to have been more scepticism about whether he could make a thing universally available, higher quality and cheaper all at the same time. Only price controls and public provision could conceivably have done that. And Mr Obama had ruled those out early on.
There ought to have been? There was plenty of skepticism at the time among those who actually took the time to think it through. And so far the only promises that have been kept are those the skeptics said would happen. The fact is this was panned by the entire right, but that argument against was virtually ignored by the main stream press who, on the whole, thought this was a dandy idea. There was plenty of skepticism … just no one willing to listen to it. Instead, they chose to listen to the snake-0il-salesman-in-chief.
So is Obama’s presidency failing? Of course it is. It is a presidency built on a cult of personality. And once that which held it together and gave it its strength and resiliency is destroyed, the whole house of cards collapses. Mr. Obama’s credibility is in tatters. While there are those who will claim this is recoverable, it’s not. Even if they finally get the website fixed, they then have to deal with the sticker shock so many are going to experience when they see higher premiums and higher deductions and feel lied too again.
Is the Obama presidency failing? In a word, ‘yes’. And if, as Luce claims, Obama is relegated to “permanent lame duck status”, so be it. That may give the country an outside chance to survive this administration.
This week, Bruce, Michael and Dale discuss Obamacare’s failure, and the triumph of socialism in NYC.
The direct link to the podcast can be found here.
As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here.
Wholesale inventories rose 0.4% in September, but a 0.6% rise in sales kept the stock-to-sales ratio unchanged at 1.18.
The Empire State Manufacturing Survey moved into negative territory in November, at -2.21.
Export prices fell -0.5% in October, while import prices dropped -0.7%. On a year-over-year basis, export prices fell -2.1% and import prices were down -2.0%.
Industrial production fell -0.1% in October, while capacity utilization in the nation’s factories dropped to 78.1%.
Three primarily political reasons drove the Obama concession yesterday to allow insurance companies to continue to cover customers whose plans don’t meet ObamaCare standards. And none really had anything to do with doing what was right for the citizenry. He wasn’t really doing anyone any favors except Democrats. He was, as usual, focused solely on limiting political damage.
One reason that drove the concession was the usual – an attempt to start shifting the blame. As Megan McArdle points out:
This may be a near-perfect specimen of that Washington perennial: the nonsolution solution. Insurers are already warning that they can’t simply allow people to stay on their old plans, firstly because all plans have to be approved by state insurers who haven’t signed onto this, and secondly because getting their computer systems to reissue the canceled policies is a hefty programming task that may not be possible to complete by the end of the year. But that’s not the administration’s problem, is it? They can say, “Hey, we changed the rule — if your insurer went ahead and canceled your policy anyway, that’s not our fault!”
Blame shifting is as natural to this administration as breathing is to the rest of us. While they take more heat, they can now pass some of it off to insurers who were simply following the law as the Democrats and the administration had written it. Now they’re the bad guys. As you might imagine, the insurance industry is furious. And insurance regulators? Well, they’re left wondering what is what.
Reason number two for the concession was Congressional Democrat panic. Karl Rove has some thoughts on that:
Mr. Obama’s assertion in the NBC interview that “the majority of folks” whose coverage is canceled will “be able to get better care at the same cost or cheaper” is also likely to be false. The higher premiums that result from ObamaCare’s bells-and-whistles coverage mandates may be offset for some by subsidies, but most people will pay more.
This problem will get worse and poses a dilemma for Mr. Obama and Democrats. A March analysis by Healthpocket.com estimated that less than 2% of individual plans comply with ObamaCare’s mandates. A Nov. 7 study by McClatchy Newspapers suggests as many as 52 million people, including many covered by their employers, could lose their plan.
As the 2014 election approaches, these people will be (a) losing coverage or have lost it already, (b) shopping for new policies, (c) suffering sticker shock over higher premiums and deductibles and (d) wondering why Mr. Obama called their previous policy with doctors they liked “subpar.” Then, next September and October, they’ll be told about premium increases for 2015.
Democrats know this, and that is why they’re pushing so hard for a delay in these cancellations. They’re really not so much interested in a “fix” as they are in enough time to avoid the consequences of the law in 2014. So they’re very willing to grab this totally short-term political “solution” by kicking the can down the road in order to weather the 2014 midterms. By the time this rears its ugly head again in full, they’re hoping the elections will be over.
Again, this isn’t about people losing coverage. This is about Democrats losing office.
And finally the third reason was a real need to get out in front of the Upton bill in the House. Kimberley Strassel covers that:
The primary purpose of the White House “fix” was to get out ahead of the planned Friday vote on Michigan Republican Fred Upton’s “Keep Your Health Plan Act.” The stage was set for dozens of Democrats to join with the GOP for passage—potentially creating a veto-proof majority, and putting enormous pressure on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to follow suit.
The White House couldn’t risk such a bipartisan rebuke. Moreover, the Upton bill—while it lacks those GOP joy words of “delay” or “repeal”—poses a threat, since it would allow insurers to continue providing non-ObamaCare policies to any American who wants one. Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu‘s version of the bill would in fact (unconstitutionally) order insurers to offer the plans in perpetuity. Both bills undermine the law’s central goal of forcing healthy people into costly ObamaCare exchange plans that subsidize the sick.
The president’s “fix” is designed to limit such grandfathering, but that’s why it is of dubious political help to Democrats. Within minutes of Mr. Obama’s announcement, several Democratic senators, including North Carolina’s Kay Hagan —whose poll numbers have plummeted in advance of her 2014 re-election bid—announced that they remain in favor of Landrieu-style legislation.
But it’s not going to happen. Obama has already said he’d veto the Upton legislation. There’s a message there for Mary Landrieu as well.
This was all about Barack Obama, as usual. It is a result of raw political calculation – his only seeming area of competence. He’s now managed a political solution which serves him about as well as any solution can in the mess he and his administration have made of this atrocious law. He’s found someone else to shift the blame too, he’s quieted Democrats, at least for the moment and he’s politically pre-empted a GOP move that would have seriously damaged his signature legislation and dumped his leadership and credibility ratings even lower.
For him, this is about as good as it gets.
The trade deficit grew in September to $41.8 billion from $38.7 billion in August.
Initial jobless claims rose 3,000 last week, to 339,000. The 4-week moving average fell 4,250 to 344,000. Continuing claims were unchanged at 2.874 million.
Nonfarm business productivity for the 3rd quarter rose 1.9 percent. Labor costs declined by -0.6%.
The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index rose 4 points to- 33.9. in the latest week.
The Fed’s balance sheet rose $55.8 billion last week, with total assets of $3.907 trillion. Reserve Bank credit increased $19.2 billion.
The Fed reports that M2 Money Supply decreased by $-32.4 billion last week.
Gallup, fresh of noting that President Obama’s trustworthiness and decisiveness have been found wanting, says the Affordable Care Act, which has never been popular, is now even more unpopular:
Americans’ views of the 2010 healthcare law have worsened in recent weeks, with 40% approving and 55% disapproving of it. For most of the past year, Americans have been divided on the law, usually tilting slightly toward disapproval. The now 15-percentage-point gap between disapproval and approval is the largest Gallup has measured in the past year.
That 15% gap shows a decided shift in popular opinion to the negative about the law. And say what Democrats might about running on this next election, they know as well as anyone that a 15 percent shift on any one issue is significant. Especially an issue to which they are the sole reason for its existence and therefore the sole party to blame.
The top three reasons given for disapproval were, “Government interference/Forcing people to do things” at 37%, “Increases costs/Makes healthcare less affordable” at 21% and 11% disapproved because they’d lost their insurance.
Of the three reasons, all of which are significant, perhaps the last one is the most significant. These are people who are likely to have nothing good to say about the law or the architects of the law. And because it effects them personally, may take political action (i.e. vote) to satisfy their anger. It may not be the most positive motivation in the world, but it can certainly be devastatingly effective.
The fact that the President is attempting to unilaterally thwart the provisions of his own law to save his and his party’s collective hides, notwithstanding, this is probably going to get worse before it gets better. Expect the insurance industry to consider lawsuits to kill the requirements. And there will likely be other legal challenges. Of course that will then let the White House do its favorite thing to do and attack and demonize them. But the only reason this predicament exists is a result of the Democratic party’s agenda.
That more negative evaluation may not have as much to do with the content of the law as the implementation of it, in particular how that squares with the president’s earlier characterization of how the law would work.
Some Democratic members of Congress, as well as former President Bill Clinton, are urging the president to support legislation that would rewrite portions of the law to allow Americans to keep their insurance plan if they are being dropped from it, as a way to honor his pledge. At this point, it is not clear whether the president will seriously consider that, or attempt to adjust how the law is administered without rewriting pieces of it.
Additionally, many members of Congress from both parties are asking the administration to extend the deadline by a year for Americans to get health insurance before facing a fine, given the ongoing technical issues with the exchange websites, which are still being fixed. The White House recently extended the deadline by six weeks.
How the administration handles these challenges to the implementation of the law, plus any new ones that emerge in the coming months, could be critical in determining the trajectory of the “disapprove” line in Gallup’s trend chart for the healthcare law.
Obviously this was written before the President’s announcement today. Politically it appears to be panic-city at the White House and among the Democrats. When you have Howard Dean – Howard Dean for heaven sake – questioning the legality of the president’s announcement today, you know there’s trouble in Democrat-land. How long it will last is anyone’s guess at this point, but I think it is safe to say, we’re nowhere near the end of this debacle.
The MBA reports that mortgage applications fell -1.8% last week, with purchases down -1.0% and re-fis down -2.0%.
The Atlanta Fed Business Inflation Expectations indicates inflation expectations for the next year of 1.9% in October.
The Treasury Budget for October shows a deficit of $91.6 billion for the month.
I’m not sure why a majority of America once did consider Obama a strong and decisive leader, but then there are a lot of things I can’t explain. But Gallup’s latest poll makes it clear than President Obama is no long considered a strong and decisive leader, at least for the moment:
After six messy weeks — defined chiefly by the partial government shutdown and troubled rollout of the federal government’s healthcare exchange website — President Barack Obama’s reputation with the American public has faltered in some ways, but not in others. Most notably, for the first time in his presidency, fewer than half of Americans, 47%, say Obama is a “strong and decisive leader,” down six percentage points since September.
The current spin coming from the White House and Democrats says this is all a cumulative bump in the road that had to be suffered. The disastrous ObamaCare rollout, the government shutdown, the perceived lie about keeping one’s healthcare insurance if they wanted it have all, as Obama’s favorite preacher would say have “come home to roost”.
The question, however, isn’t when will this pass, but whether it will pass at all? Is this just a bump in the road for the Obama team or is it the “new normal” for him?
There’s no question the trend in his approval ratings the past few months have been anything but encouraging. One thing politicians have learned throughout the ages that they’re unlikely to keep their job if they lose the trust of their constituency. There’s obviously very little reason for Obama to be concerned about losing his job, however, loss of trust now, barely into his second term, could mean his second term agenda is all but dead on arrival. His desire to push immigration reform and climate change legislation wouldn’t even get our of the starting gate. That’s because other politicians, the ones he needs to get the job done for him, will have no fear of defying his wishes and facing the wrath of the people.
So how has Mr. Obama’s trustworthiness done? Not well:
Similarly, the share of Americans who view Obama as “honest and trustworthy” has dipped five points. Exactly half of Americans still consider Obama honest and trustworthy, but this is down from 55% in September and 60% in mid-2012 as Obama was heading toward re-election.
He’s at 50% and sinking. And you’ve got other Democrats taking the lead in trying to fix the ObamaCare debacle while he seems to be doing what he usually does – dither.
The hit, then, to both his trustworthiness and decisiveness are a bit of a double whammy to his ambitious agenda. And it may not be recoverable as Gallup points out:
Of more concern for the White House, Obama’s once-positive image as a strong and decisive leader has suffered, in addition to his longtime reputation for being honest and trustworthy. Of these, the decline in Obama’s honesty rating may be the most noteworthy because Gallup has previously found that this dimension is one of the most important drivers of his overall job approval. Thus, the recent controversy over whether the president honestly described Americans’ ability to retain their own healthcare plans under the Affordable Care Act could have the most significant implications for his presidency.
As Insty would say, indeed. Taking hits in decisiveness and trustworthiness are not hits you shrug off. They represent core qualities or a lack thereof and once lost, they’re very hard to regain. Mr. Obama is seen more and more to be lacking those qualities. That doesn’t bode will for him in the next 3 years.