The most surprising thing about the botched launch of Obamacare’s “online insurance marketplace” is that the failure surprised anyone. From the moment, during the 2008 presidential campaign, that Barack Obama began promising to reform our medical delivery system, conservatives have repeatedly warned the public that his view of the issue was distorted by tired statist shibboleths. We pointed out that Obama’s closest friends and most influential mentors were communists and that, for him, “reform” was a euphemism for “federal take-over.” Based on these realities, we predicted that Obama’s brave new health care system would be a government-dominated, command-and-control disaster.
Nonetheless, there was widespread shock and bewilderment when the government bureaucrats steering Obamacare’s flagship ran it aground on its October 1st maiden voyage. How can anyone be surprised? The story of PPACA’s online marketplace is just another cliché-filled scene in the tragicomedy of centrally planned, government-run systems. It doesn’t matter if they are conceived in Moscow or inside the Beltway. All such systems meet the same fate. Whether imposed by well-meaning but naïve zealots or foisted on the electorate by despots who simply lust after “command” and “control,” they are always holed below the water line by the sheer incompetence of government bureaucrats.
Yet Obamacare’s advocates thought their pet project would be different. And it’s not like we right-wing knuckle-draggers were the only doubters. The HHS bureaucrats themselves feared that the technology of HealthCare.gov would not be ready for prime time by October. A mere six months before go-live, the government apparatchik overseeing its software development had given up on the possibility that it would be efficient and was obviously clinging to the pathetic hope that he was headed for a little rough weather rather than an outright shipwreck. He told a national policy meeting of America’s Health Insurance Plans, “We are under 200 days from open enrollment, and I’m pretty nervous.”
Subsequent events have shown that there was good reason to be nervous, but at least one member of the administration was untroubled. No one seems to have been more surprised by the debacle than Obama himself. AP reports, “Last week, President Barack Obama gathered some of his top advisers in the Oval Office to discuss the problem-plagued rollout of his health care legislation.” The report describes “a frustrated President” who will handle this problem as he handles every other crisis — by making a speech. He also admonished his advisors that “the administration had to own up to the fact that there were no excuses for not having the health care website ready to operate on Day One.”
Oddly enough, however, White House mouthpieces were concurrently dispatched to Obama-friendly publications to blame the GOP for the mess. Thus, Politico reported that “a former administration official” claimed the cause of the crash was “intense opposition from congressional Republicans.” This allegedly created a bunker mentality in which “Officials feared that if they called on outsiders to help with the technical details of how to run a commerce website, those companies could be subpoenaed.… So the task fell to trusted campaign tech experts.” A more plausible explanation is that administration officials actually thought their “tech experts” could do a better job than “outsiders.”
Ignorance and arrogance of this magnitude is all too typical of the federal government. Megan McArdle wrote last week, “Federal contracting codes… do not emit intoxicating gases that might have caused senior HHS officials to decide that it was a good idea to take on the role of lead contractor — a decision equivalent to someone who has never even hung a picture deciding that they should become their own general contractor and build a house.” True enough. But the kind of power wielded by the Secretary of HHS, particularly since the passage of Obamacare, is certainly enough to produce this level of inebriation. And, if ever a government official were drunk with power, it is Kathleen Sebelius.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Madam Commissar will not condescend to appear before the congressional committee investigating Obamacare’s catastrophic system failure: “Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is … refusing to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in a hearing this coming Thursday.” Perhaps being called a liar by Obamacare supporter Jon Stewart has driven Sebelius to her fainting couch where HHS eunuchs are even now dabbing her temples with Eau de Cologne. This would explain why, as the WSJ goes on to report, “The department is also refusing to make available lower-level officials who might detail the source or sources of this debacle.”
Naturally, this mess has caused the supporters of “universal health care” to rethink the wisdom of giving so much power to the government, right? Nope. A typical example of how “serious” progressives have responded to this latest Obamacare calamity can be found in a Foreign Affairs column titled, “Doomed from the Start,” by Kimberly J. Morgan. As her title suggests, Morgan was no more surprised by the debacle than were we conservatives. Her suggested solution, however, is to give the government more power. She advises that a smarter alternative to Obamacare would be to “extend an existing, well-worn program to more people.” This is, of course, the classic “Medicare-for-All” pitch.
Morgan believes Obamacare should be replaced with a single-payer model or straight socialized system like Great Britain’s abominable NHS, despite the horrors routinely inflicted by such systems on their hapless patients. Progressives have a kind of learning disability where government is concerned. They cannot absorb the reality that concentrating ever increasing power in the hands of a few apparatchiks in Washington, Moscow, or Timbuktu for that matter, will sooner or later sink the ship of state. Obamacare was a giant step in the wrong direction. A good place to reverse this dangerous trend in our country is to dump Healthcare.commie and try free-market health care for once.
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