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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Reality Catches Up to President Obama



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From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

President Obama’s Chernobyl-like Meltdown

Did you catch Obama’s Thursday press conference? If you are not a fan of this president, you may want to put aside some time and watch it. More specifically, you’ll really want to watch it if you’ve been wondering when the rest of the world would see the same guy you’ve been seeing since, oh, 2007 or so . . . in over his head, out of touch with the real world, banal in his off-the-cuff remarks, and unable to distinguish between good intentions and genuine results.

Sure, Obama’s remarks drag on interminably, but there’s something revealing in those hapless, meandering, slow remarks. Our Charlie Cooke said Obama looked “broken.” Sometime in the past day or so, the mobile bubble of happy-talk was pierced, and he’s starting to realize the scope and depth of the mess he’s in, and how unlikely he is to get out of this mess for the remainder of his presidency.

Ultimately, his big idea doesn’t work. It began with a promise he never could have kept (insurance policies aren’t carved in stone). It advanced through a smoke-and-mirrors p.r. campaign obscuring the taxes, the regulations, and the considerable trade-offs. His idea was greatly complicated by the epic failure of a website he was completely convinced was ready. But even if the website stopped crashing, Obamacare would ultimately run afoul of one or more of the other lurking problems: disinterest among the young, sticker shock among buyers, cyber-security and identity theft.

Americans are starting to realize who the biggest losers under Obamacare are: “in good health, relatively young, with moderate to high incomes, and not receiving health insurance through work.” People like Kirsten Powers. These folks haven’t done anything wrong, and they’ve made the responsible choice to buy health insurance even though they don’t get it through their employer. And they’re getting punished for making that responsible choice; as Powers noted, “There’s no explanation for the doubling of my premiums other than the fact that it’s subsidizing other people.”

Of course, if Obama had pitched his health-care reform plan as an effort at economic redistribution that would include millions of Americans losing their insurance and millions more facing higher premiums, it never would have passed.

Maybe this is the most significant moment from Obama’s press conference, where he came dangerously close to admitting that he never really understood health insurance at all:

What we’re also discovering is that insurance is complicated to buy. And another mistake that we made, I think, was underestimating the difficulties of people purchasing insurance online and shopping for a lot of options with a lot of costs and lot of different benefits and plans and — and somehow expecting that that would be very smooth.

“We” are not discovering this, Mr. President. You and your team are. You clearly had no real idea of how your system was going to work, or what the average uninsured person needed. The complicated nature of buying insurance that you’ve suddenly discovered is the precise opposite of what you were saying October 1:

Just visit healthcare.gov, and there, you can compare insurance plans side-by-side the same way you’d shop for a plane ticket on Kayak or a TV on Amazon. You enter some basic information, you’ll be presented with a list of quality, affordable plans that are available in your area with clear descriptions of what each plan covers and what it will cost.

Five years into his presidency, Obama announced Wednesday that he now realizes that the federal government has a really hard time keeping up with the latest technology.

And you combine that with the fact that the federal government does a lot of things really well. One of the things it does not do well is information technology procurement. You know, this is kind of a systematic problem that we have across the board.

If only he could get into some sort of elected position where he could have some sort of influence over how the government operates.

But he’s such a bystander to his own administration, he didn’t even know how bad the problems with the web sites were, one week after launch:

So, clearly, we and I did not have enough awareness about the problems in the website. Even a week into it, the thinking was that these were some glitches that would be fixed with patches.

Oh, and while he never explicitly came out and said it, they’re not making the end-of-the-month deadline:

In terms of what happens on November 30th or December 1st, I think it’s fair to say that the improvement will be marked and noticeable. You know, the website will work much better on November 30th, December 1st, than it worked certainly on October 1st. That’s a pretty low bar. It’ll be working a lot better than it is — it was last week and will be working better than it was this week, which means that the majority of people who go to the website will see a website that is working the way it’s supposed to.

Mr. President, once again, that’s not what your administration promised:

The troubled HealthCare.gov website will be running properly by late November, said Jeffrey Zients, President Obama’s appointee to fix the problems that have plagued the site since its Oct. 1 opening. “By the end of November, HealthCare.gov will work smoothly for the vast majority of users,” Zients said Friday.

Now Obama’s moving the goalposts again, and the cherry on top of his awful appearance Thursday was a whine that everyone expects perfection:

I think it is not possible for me to guarantee that a hundred percent of the people a hundred percent of the time going on this website will have a perfectly seamless, smooth experience.


Tags: Barack Obama , Obamacare


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