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Bridget Johnson


December 2, 2013 - 10:16 am

While the White House is claiming that is now working well, it’s still going to indefinitely delay the move of Jeff Zients to the Council of Economic Advisers as he oversees fixes to the exchange.

“We feel — we feel confident about the site working now as — as it was intended — originally conceived to do, granted two months later than we had, you know — we or anyone would have liked to have seen. So we have confidence in that,” White House Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri told MSNBC today.

Palmieri brushed off a question about whether the administration is going to step up public relations efforts this week to tout a fixed website, saying the site’s already getting enough traffic.

“We — we don’t — we’re — we’re not doing that because we don’t need to do that, in terms of driving traffic. We’re gonna monitor — it’s not about confidence in the site, it’s about whether or not you actually need to drive traffic,” she said. “We’re gonna — we anticipated that just because of the delay from the last few months, and then a lot of the press attention around this that today, in particular, would probably be a very high-volume day. We wanted to see how these first few days go.”

“And if we’re getting a lot of traffic, then we don’t feel — feel the need to drive it, and if we — if — if we see numbers start to drop off, then we’ll start taking those kinds of actions to — to get more people to the site.”

Zients, who was supposed to start his post as chairman of President Obama’s economic team, said in a report on the site’s progress that it is now performing at “private-sector velocity.”

“There are some things that the private sector does really well. And running — creating and running good websites is — is one of them. And — and, you know, we always look for the best practices from the private sector that we can bring to government,” Palmieri said.

“There are some things the private sector doesn’t do well; for example, in the case of health insurance, being able to provide affordable coverage to everyone. This is a place where the government needed to step in, put some rules in place for protection, so people — pre-existing conditions can get health care. So that people who get dropped from their employer coverage have another option or place to go,” she continued. “So the approach that we take is let’s take the best practice (inaudible) private sector where, you know — where they — where they do well and they do better than us. And this is an area where they do that and that’s the kind of practices that — that we wanted to bring, and that Jeff Zients and his team helped us to bring to the website.”

As far as Zients being able to come off Obamacare oversight and start his new job on time in a month, Palmieri said he’s going to stay on the website as long as needed.

“And he’s gonna continue that for the immediate future. He will become the NEC director at some point, I’m not sure exactly the date,” she said. “But the other thing that we want people to understand is that when Jeff does leave, you know, this is always going to be a short- term assignment for him, that he will be replaced by someone, because both the president and Secretary Sebelius think it’s very important that we have someone whose job it is is just to focus specifically on — on this technology, on the website, and on doing what we need to do to get the — to get the type of traffic and enrollment numbers that we need.”

“He’s still there now, and we don’t have — I don’t have a departure date for him but he’ll be NEC director at some point, and we’ll make it a full-time job for somebody else.”

Last week, Dem Sens. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Mark Warner of Virginia, Chris Coons of Delaware, Mark Udall of Colorado, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Tim Kaine of Virginia wrote Obama asking that he appoint a permanent overseer for immediately.

“A project of this size and scope demands the sustained leadership and day-to-day management of a chief executive officer — someone whose sole responsibility would be an unrelenting focus on,” they wrote. “The position should report directly to you and should be empowered with the authority to ensure that is fixed quickly, completely, and permanently.”

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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Well, if MSNBC reports, it must be so.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
required reading:

It has pictures!!

Highlight of highlights: "Right about now, a squad car pulls up, and a buzz-headed cop motions for Welly to come over. I am incensed on his behalf. A black man gets a little lippy with some white girls, and immediately the cop assumes he’s harassing them? But the cop doesn’t want to talk to Welly, he wants to talk to the girls. He asks them who they are and what they’re doing. He explains the police have had some complaints about them causing disturbances in the neighborhood. They point out that they’re just educating people about their health care options, and haven’t disturbed anybody. I second them, as the Obamacare pom-pom girls are nothing if not mannerly. The cop says it doesn’t matter. If they want to canvass door-to-door, they have to get a permit at city hall.

A smile creeps across Welly’s face as the officer drives away. “What kind of sense does that make?” he says, now running up the score. “Think about that. You’re doing the work of government, then the government comes over and says, ‘Hey’ .  .  . ”

Katie is not amused. For the first and only time, I see her mercury rise. “We’re a nonpartisan organization,” she chirps. “We’re just trying to get information to you.”

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"There are things the private sector does well like running websites so we always want to bring those best practices to government. Then there are things the private sector does not do well like providing affordable health care to all Americans"

The person who said this is someone's son. So I understand that his mother is glad he is working in an important job. But actually providing affordable health care for Americans is done much better in the private sector - exclusively so and the government couldn't do a worse job of it.

I have to define worse. Every single policy, without exception, will cover less - much less - at a much higher cost through Obamacare than if they remained the domain of the private sector.

This is fact and the Obama advocates know this. They do point out that nevertheless, people will have insurance that do not now have it so that justifies everything. Except we do not know that.
Maybe this man's mother should talk to him.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Zients is to head the National Economic Council, not the Council of Economic Advisors, fyi. Separate WH offices.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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