The PJ Tatler

Sebelius: On Second Thought, Healthcare.gov Needed Six Years of Development

Six years. To build a functional website. Who, other than the government, needs six years to build a website?

For people who have been following the story closely, it’s been clear for months that Obamacare’s exchanges were not ready to go live on October 1, and that their implementation needed to be delayed. The Obama administration insisted otherwise, claiming that everything was hunky-dory, and that reports to the contrary were simply the work of partisan saboteurs. But earlier this week, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius admitted the truth. “We didn’t have enough testing…for a very complicated project,” she conceded to the Wall Street Journal. The exchanges needed five years of construction and one year of testing, and instead had only “two years [of construction] and almost no testing.” That leaves us with an obvious question: Why, then, did Sebelius insist on rolling out the exchanges four years ahead of time?

This leaves us with some questions. What did the president know and when did he know it, regarding Healthcare.gov’s unreadiness? Did the president push to keep the October 1 rollout? Did Sebelius push for it? What did they expect to happen once a mostly untested site went live, that promised to deliver free or cheap health insurance to millions of Americans?

From a legacy and policy perspective, did Team Obama expect that three weeks into Obamacare, even David Gregory would be asking “Is Obamacare doomed?”

The usually reliably partisan Gregory makes several good points in here, and raises another point: Does the Obama administration realize that the website’s dysfunction threatens their entire project of forcing younger Americans to subsidize older Americans’ health insurance?

Some have already brought up the probability that Obamacare’s horrible rollout jeopardizes not just Obama’s “legacy,” but the rest of his second term. Speeches won’t fix this. Blaming Republicans doesn’t fly and won’t help. His and his administration’s credibility is gone, and with it, any belief that they can or will do anything competently. This transfers over into immigration reform, which Obama is now using to distract from Obamacare. Supposing that Obama ever intends to secure the border as part of an immigration deal, who believes that he can competently lead his administration to do it? Why would he perform better doing a task he does not want to do, than on a task he wanted to do and insisted on doing?

Obamacare’s flop may even have consequences outside our unsecured borders. This rollout makes the entire American enterprise look ridiculous. Who will fear us? What rogue state will fear that if they act up, the bunch that couldn’t even develop a web site will be able to coordinate an effective diplomatic or military response? Barack Obama’s Syria debacle already left him damaged enough that the Saudis are distancing themselves from him. The NSA leaks have created cracks in our alliances. Now, Obama has been revealed as inept even as a petty bureaucrat. The man who pitches government as the solution to most problems can’t even get his signature domestic policy done right. What can he do right?

The mullahs in Tehran must be having a good laugh at him, and by extension, all Americans.