Ezra Klein: Say, They Might Be Lying About This Whole 'Tech Surge' Thing

The Obama administration’s pitiful handling of its signature policy is forcing ardent Obama supporter Ezra Klein into growing up. A little.

The White House has refused requests to name the outsiders they’ve brought in (for the Healthcare.gov “tech surge”), to name the companies that are involved and to explain how the surge is being organized. It’s thus impossible to say what the surge actually is or how it’s working.

It’s easy to imagine reasons for their reticence. They don’t want reporters to know where to go for further leaks. They don’t want people who are donating their time to come under political pressure, or appear to bear responsibility if the site isn’t fixed, or simply to be bothered by a lot of outside inquiry and scrutiny when they should be fixing code.

But it’s also possible that the scope of the surge is less impressive, and more insider-focused, than the administration is implying. That might actually be a smart move if you take a “mythical man month” view of the problem. On the other hand, that would also mean that the White House is largely relying on the people who did such a poor job building HealthCare.gov in the first place to fix it.


Secrecy is just how this administration does business. It refuses to say how many people have enrolled in Obamacare. It asks insurers to cover up enrollment numbers. It goes after reporters who report leaks that don’t show the administration in the best light. Obama himself slams bloggers and then secretly meets with bloggers to get them to push his message.

They’re a creepy bunch. Dollars to donuts hardly anyone in Silicon Valley wants anything to do with Healthcare.gov, and those who have been brought in previously worked either for the administration or the campaign. “Team Obamacare” wants that covered up because they like cover-ups, and because it looks bad that Obama who failed to call in support for the Americans in Benghazi can’t even call in a tech cavalry to save himself.


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