The PJ Tatler

Secretary Superfluous (Update: Obamacare's 800 Number, Paper Applications Don't Work)

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was in Texas today. She visited something called CommUnityCare in Austin.

One should not be surprised that CommUnityCare leans heavily on government programs including Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP and presumably Obamacare for its business.

Why was she in Texas? That’s an interesting question. Her Obamacare implementation is burning down around her ears, its five-alarm conflagration threatening to burn up the entire health insurance industry along with it, but evidently the “tech surge” needed to fix it does not need the head of the agency that’s in charge of the surging. The mismanager doesn’t need to stick around in Washington to see to it that her mismanagement gets fixed. Republican calls to fire her might be missing the point: It’s evident that Kathleen Sebelius is really Secretary Superfluous. What does she actually bring to the table, beyond loyalty to “progressivism” and Barack Obama?

Put another way: What corporate CEO whose company is in meltdown makes it their business to be 1500 miles away while teams of managers are brought in to fix the problem? None, at least none who intend to show that they know what they’re doing and want to keep their job. Such a CEO would either be at their post coordinating the fix, or they would be alone somewhere brushing up their resume.

In Sebelius’ case, her flight to a red state is about avoiding having to testify on her own mismanagement for a few more days.

So Sebelius shows up in Texas and then blames local officials for her own agency’s mismanagement, never acknowledging the solid fact that Obamacare as written allowed states to opt in or out of setting up exchanges. States like Texas are acting according to the law, while Sebelius allowed waivers that are not allowed by the law. Then she has the gall to lecture Texas about Obamacare.

We didn’t vote for that law here. We don’t want it. We elected people who share that view. We elected officials who fought it, and who continue to fight it. That’s our right. That’s how America works.

Sebelius, again at the time 1500 miles from the teams of people working hard to clean up her own agency’s mess, said this:

“It’s unfortunate that it is still being conducted as a political campaign and not as the law,” she said in an interview with the Tribune. “This is no longer a political debate; it’s the law of the land.”

Shut up, she explained.

Her own administration has tried to change settled law on energy policy by granting the EPA vast powers statutes do not grant it, it has used the National Labor Relations Board to re-shape labor outside the law and resurrect the dying Big Labor movement, and her administration has tried to unsettle the very settled Second Amendment law for years. But we are not to criticize a law that, in Texas, a majority never supported, and many here warned was a terrible idea, and is proving to be a disaster under her watch. Who is Kathleen Sebelius, a woman so skilled that she’s flown 1500 miles from her own office while her agency is in meltdown, to lecture anyone about anything, at all, ever? The name “Sebelius” may soon become synonymous with “stupidity” and “incompetence.”

The fact that no one laughed her out of the room reveals why she chose Austin for her visit. It’s one of the few pro-fascist enclaves in the state, where the majority enjoys a good hearty talking-down-to by Washington mandarins. The rest of the state would dismiss Her Incompetence with less than a shrug.

More: Firing Sebelius would be a kindness at this point.

With the supposedly state-of-the-art $600 million portal malfunctioning, President Barack Obama is urging Americans to go ahead and try to get health coverage by mailing in a paper application, calling the helpline or seeking help from one of the trained “assisters.”

But the truth is those applications — on paper or by phone — have to get entered into the same lousy website that is causing the problems in the first place. And the people processing the paper and calls don’t have any cyber secret passage to duck around that. They too have to deal with all the frustrations of — full-time.

“I feel like we’re sort of back in the era of control-alt-delete where we’re trying to figure out the different tricks that facilitate people’s enrollment,” said Jennifer Ng’andu, director of health policy for the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic advocacy group that has been helping to publicize the Affordable Care Act.

Wait until people find out all the problems with those “assisters”…