RSS
How Republicans are saving ObamaCare
Even Obama supporters are calling the launch of the exchange sites a disaster — except for one ironic upside
A convenient red herring for ObamaCare.
A convenient red herring for ObamaCare. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

"So far, the Affordable Care Act's launch has been a failure," says Ezra Klein at The Washington Post. "Not 'troubled.' Not 'glitchy.' A failure." Ed Morrissey at The Week makes a similar point, but unlike Morrissey, Klein is a supporter of the law, better known as ObamaCare. And Klein isn't the only ObamaCare supporter who is publicly criticizing its rollout.

"This is excruciatingly embarrassing for the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services," former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told MSNBC's Alex Wagner. "This was bungled badly." The website has "glitches that go, quite frankly, way beyond the pale of what should be expected," Gibbs added, and "when they get it fixed, I hope they fire some people that were in charge of making sure that this thing was supposed to work." Watch:

There are several journalistic postmortems on what went wrong. The New York Times' Robert Pear, Sharon LaFraniere, and Ian Austen have a well-reported look at the various obstacles, questionable decisions, and politics behind the botched rollout, citing one person familiar with the HealthCare.gov project as saying it's only roughly 70 percent of the way toward operating properly.

Alex Howard at BuzzFeed digs into the antiquated rules governing federal contracts. "Given how well the Obama campaign used technology to support getting the Democratic nominee for president elected, I've seen many people wondering how his administration has so badly botched the technology behind his signature legislative achievement," Howard says. The short answer is that campaigns are free to hire whom they want and take risks; right now, governments generally aren't.

The sad truth is that unless we reform how government buys, builds, and maintains information technology, we will continue to get more Healthcare.govs.... It would be a historic irony if an administration that was elected using cutting-edge technology applied in innovative ways could not carry that innovation into office in support of Obama's signature legislative accomplishment. Unfortunately, unless something changes quickly, that's how this rough draft of history will be coded. [BuzzFeed]

It's worth highlighting that not all ObamaCare exchange sites are as messed up as the federal version, which has to serve more than 30 states, all of whom declined to create their own exchanges. Kentucky, where Gov. Steve Beshear (D) has embraced ObamaCare, has an exchange site that seems to be working just fine. So the Obama team has "no excuse for not being more prepared," says Taylor Marsh at her blog. "The White House is running ObamaCare like a drown the government in the bathtub Republican."

It is ironic, then, that the "one thing has gone abundantly right for the Affordable Care Act" is the Republican Party, says The Washington Post's Klein.

Their decision to shut down the government on the exact day the health-care law launched was a miracle for the White House. If Republicans had simply passed a clean CR on Oct. 1 these last few weeks would've been nothing — nothing at all — save for coverage of the health care law's disaster. Instead the law has been knocked off the front page by coverage of the Republican Party's disaster.... Republicans managed to make themselves so unpopular that they've actually made the law more popular. [Washington Post]

That's not the only way the GOP is rescuing ObamaCare, either. "I think a large share of people don't realize that this problems with the Affordable Care Act IT infrastructure have very little to do with Republicans and basically nothing to do with the shutdown," says Matthew Yglesias at Slate.

After all, it's confusing. Republicans did shut the government down. They did shut the government down in order to stop ObamaCare. The shutdown came on the same week that ObamaCare's websites were supposed to launch. And for many people, the websites are not in fact working.... It seems to be the case that many grassroots conservatives believed, pre-shutdown, that the Ted Cruz strategy could actually prevent ObamaCare from launching. And now it seems to be the case that many grassroots liberals believe, in the wake of the botched website launch, that it's Ted Cruz rather than IT contractors and their overseers in the administration who've screwed things up. [Slate]

Byron York at The Washington Examiner is exasperated at the GOP for "pounding themselves" instead of "pounding Obama on the mandates, defects, false promises, and expense of ObamaCare" — but he sees a silver lining: There will be plenty of time to continue the fight. "Long after a continuing resolution has been passed and the debt limit raised, ObamaCare will still be a major, and for many unwelcome, factor in American life."

Peter Weber is a senior editor at TheWeek.com, and has handled the editorial night shift since 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian, and plays in an Austin rock band.

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week