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October 31, 2013

When You've Lost....


...I expected more from Obama. I expected more at the Veterans Administration, since the President said that making sure that our veterans received the best treatment really mattered to him. It is remarkable that five years on, Obama still hasn’t resolved the dispute between the VA and the Department of Defense about providing a unified electronic medical records system that would follow active-duty personnel into retirement. The waste, heartache and delay caused by his inaction is appalling.

And I certainly expected more from the Affordable Care Act, since it is the most significant piece of social welfare legislation since the 1960s, and an absolutely crucial piece of our social safety net going forward. It is early days for the ACA and we should reserve judgment about whether this legislation was just too big and complicated a mess to implement. But, surely, SOMEONE–maybe many people–should be fired for these opening pratfalls. And we should also be able to get some of our money back from the private contractors who failed to implement the exchanges.

There is a larger point here. It lies in the nature of government work. It is near-impossible to fire anyone in the civil service–and without the fear of firing, the incentives for hard work diminish. (There are also very few rewards for finding creative solutions.) This is the 130th anniversary of our Civil Service system, enacted by Chester Alan Arthur. It may have been a good thing in 19th century, when even Abraham Lincoln was hiring political hacks to run the post offices–but it has transformed agencies like the VA and HHS into lugubrious sludge glaciers in the 21st century.

The President should set the tone for the way the federal government operates. This President hasn’t done that. He still has three more years in office to get it right, perhaps even to propose some radical changes in the work rules governing federal employment. He could even force DOD and VA to agree on the unified electronic records system that he promised.

Otherwise, there is a danger that the Obama Administration will be remembered as not even good enough for government work


And then there's this, which took real courage:

When the website doesn't work and the promises of 2009 and 2010 are revised, questions of credibility infect everything the administration says. This can lead to a death spiral as administration officials make bold assertions to distract from the current challenges. White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett tweeted Monday night: "FACT: Nothing in #Obamacare forces people out of their health plans. No change is required unless insurance companies change existing plans." Of course the insurance companies wouldn't have had to change plans if it hadn’t been for Obamacare. This is spinning—which is to be expected from a president's defender—but its legalistic dissembling seems particularly weak in light of the president's initial promises. (It isn’t the only time the administration has claimed a FACT recently about health care that isn't one).

For congressional Republicans, these credibility challenges help obscure their recent flirtation with utter collapse. It's not just that Republicans benefit when the president’s signature legislation falters. This debate over his initial claim lends credibility to their longstanding opposition to the law. House Speaker John Boehner's office quickly provided reporters with a quotation from the GOP weekly radio address from September 2009, delivered by Rep. Tom Price: “On the stump, the president regularly tells Americans that ‘if you like your plan, you can keep your plan.’ But if you read the bill, that just isn’t so. For starters, within five years, every health care plan will have to meet a new federal definition for coverage—one that your current plan might not match, even if you like it.” A key critique of the Republican Party's recent attempt to defund Obamacare was that it was a strategy born of limited vision. They couldn’t see that it was doomed to fail spectacularly. Four years ago, with the Affordable Care Act, they saw this moment coming.

Posted by Cassandra at October 31, 2013 06:01 AM

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(1) We never promised not to do it.

(2) We didn't do it.

(3) If you'd been paying enough attention, you'd have known we had to do it.

(4) You should be grateful we did it.

(5) The Republicans made us do it.

Posted by: Texan99 at October 31, 2013 09:57 AM

Tex, you ignorant slut :p

You forgot to blame the Bad Apple Insurance companies. You people never cease to amaze and annoy me.

Posted by: Barack Obama at October 31, 2013 10:27 AM

"You people never cease to amaze and annoy me."

Well, as long as we're doing something right.

Posted by: Evil Twin at October 31, 2013 04:30 PM

- I don't believe Obama gives a damn about Vets, or active duty military for that matter, except as nice backdrop or convenient talking points.
- Tex has the talking points right, but even parts of the MSM are offended by the patent lies being peddled as spin; Obama & ACA cronies made explicit promises to get it passed, which are (surprise!) proving to have been at best gross exaggeration, or more likely outright lies.
> hope it bites them hard next Nov; Stay.Mad.and.Vote!

Best Regards,

Posted by: CAPT Mike at November 1, 2013 04:56 AM

I don't believe Obama gives a damn about Vets, or active duty military for that matter, except as nice backdrop or convenient talking points.

Amen, Mike.

Posted by: Cass at November 1, 2013 05:13 PM