12 questions the White House press corps could have asked Obama about Obamacare

posted at 7:41 pm on December 20, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham

Let’s start with the newsiest based on giant news that broke just hours before the press conference and move on from there.

Obama-0197f

1. Hey, from where do you derive the legal authority to change large parts of this law passed by Congress? And, if you believe you have the legal justification for it, what’s to stop a future president from simply deciding he won’t enforce large parts of it?

2. How exactly does the hardship exemption work? Do you have a ballpark number for how many Americans might be eligible? Is there an enforcement mechanism? For instance, will the IRS or someone demand to see a cancellation letter and proof a family couldn’t afford a new plan? If they don’t have the proper evidence would they later face any consequences?

3. Does the administration have the authority to exempt people from certain taxes on an ad hoc basis? From where does it derive this power? Are there other taxes from which people could be exempted by the president’s decree?

4. The demographic make-up of the group enrolled in the exchanges is extremely important to making the law work and avoiding a death spiral, or adverse selection. HHS has been extremely stingy with numbers and specifics about those demographics. Do you have them? Are you getting reports or any sense of what the pool looks like? Colorado, for instance, is enrolling large numbers of 45+ citizens. Does that suggest to you that the health of the pools is in danger? And, could we get some assurances from you that the administration will be transparent about these numbers as we move forward?

5. A report today reveals that Teresa Fryer, chief information security officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), thought HealthCare.gov was so full of security holes it should be denied its “Authority to Operate” certification but was overridden. Your HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has said she had no knowledge of security concerns yet Fryer has reportedly told Congress members she briefed Sebelius and others. Were you aware of any security concerns before the launch? Are you at all confident Americans who are submitting sensitive information to the site are safe? Will the federal government be transparent about breaches when and if they happen?

Follow up: There have already been two “high-risk” security findings found as the site has been operating over the past months, along with several medium and low-risk findings. Are you kept abreast of these findings? How did the site launch with these security issues unresolved? Should it have been delayed until they were fixed?

6. Today, just hours before we came to this press conference, the HealthCare.gov website was down. It had a note on it referring to the crash as “scheduled maintenance.” Was it scheduled maintenance today or just another crash? And, if it was scheduled maintenance, why was maintenance scheduled just days before the extended deadline for enrollment?

7. Given the high number of cancellation notices that have gone out—estimates are rough, but some think it may be in the millions if you add up data available to us state by state—combined with the persistent problems with the website, isn’t it possible that the net number of insured will actually go up in the new year? As the formerly insured add to the uninsured pool because they cannot afford a new plan, or they can’t get through the process on HealthCare.gov, or take this latest exemption as a reason to put off purchasing altogether, wouldn’t that destroy this law’s raison d’etre? What does it mean if ACA, which was meant to get the uninsured insured, is a net negative in terms of insured Americans in 2014?

8. CMS/HHS officials have testified that the portion of HealthCare.gov that would actually pay insurance companies has not yet been built. HHS has said it will use a “workaround” that involves having insurance companies estimate what they are owed in subsidies and later resolving differences. How is it possible a payment mechanism for subsidies was not built into the original site, as launched. When will it be built? Do you feel confident the federal government can transfer subsidies via this workaround? Given the complexity of the subsidy formula, are you confident insurance companies even know where to begin in calculating what they’re owed? How will we know tax money is not lost on overestimations?

9. Many insurance companies have reported getting bad data and duplicative data from HealthCare.gov about enrollees. They also fear they are missing some data entirely. Is there a possibility that some of the Americans who were able to get through HealthCare.gov’s enrollment process might think they’re enrolled but they’re not? How can those people protect themselves from this possibility?

10. Your announcement about the hardship exemption to ACA’s rules allows those who feel they cannot afford a new exchange-eligible plan with all the Essential Health Benefits to avoid penalty for not being insured or to buy a catastrophic plan that was supposed to be for young people. Is the acknowledgement of this “hardship” an acknowledgment that the ACA has more problems than a broken website and bad publicity? That it has substantive problems too, such as unaffordability?

In doing this, your administration has deemed the ACA itself “an unexpected natural or human-caused event.” In other words, it is a hardship, is it not?

11. Ezra Klein of the Washington Post, longtime supporter and reporter on the Affordable Care Act, wrote today that your hardship exemption is the “first crack in the individual mandate.” He also warned that it might make it harder for you and Democrats in Congress to resist calls to extend the exemption to others. How do you justify exempting those who were formerly insured but now cannot afford a plan but not those who never were insured because they couldn’t afford plans? Why not do what some have suggested and delay the individual mandate for everyone?

And, finally, since the press loves so much to talk about the politics and feelings of things instead of the actual news causing millions to lose their insurance, I offer this one.

12. You are about to embark on a two-week Hawaiian vacation. While no one begrudges the president Christmas with his family, are you aware that two state-level Obamacare exchange directors have resigned over taking ill-timed tropical vacations within the last two weeks? Are you sending the wrong message by leaving for so long while your legacy law is in pretty great peril, while Americans are still reeling from cancellations and the prospect of being uninsured? What will you be doing from Hawaii to ensure HealthCare.gov’s problems are resolved? Should we anticipate any other law changes while you’re gone?

And, while we’re on the subject of resignations and such, let’s make this a baker’s dozen:

13. Thus far, not one person has been fired for the roll-out of ACA you yourself have called “screwed up.” Why not? Has anyone been disciplined? If not, why not? Will anyone lose their job over this now three-month-long calamity?

It is rare that the White House press corps asks exactly what I want it to ask, but today’s display, with a few notable exceptions, was truly irresponsible. Not only would critics of Obamacare like to know how Obama proposes to fix it, but I’m sure the law’s liberal champions would appreciate some more information and assurances as well. Real people are losing their real coverage in real life, and the press corps is wasting the bulk of its questions on this pitifully rare opportunity on how the president feels about this rolling calamity. Well, if the president’s mind-numbing self-reflection can cure your kids when they get sick, you’re in luck, America. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait for the next meeting of the White House Encounter Group for a shot at more answers from the man in charge.


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The worshiping whores of the MSM ask “hard questions” of their Obamassiah?

The “effete elite intelligentsia” dare to question The Chosen One? The “Messiah”?

Hahahahahaa!!!!!!!!!!!!

GarandFan on December 20, 2013 at 7:48 PM

Ummm, Weasel Boehner said I could?
Next question…..

Ummmm, Weasel Boehner & Weasel McVain said I could?
Next question.

viking01 on December 20, 2013 at 7:50 PM

Excellent. It would be super if we had an independent media asking these questions.

#6: “Today, just hours before we came to this press conference, the HealthCare.gov website was down. It had a note on it referring to the crash as “scheduled maintenance.” Was it scheduled maintenance today or just another crash?”

Or worse, a security breach that required shutdown. I can’t believe anything less would have caused the site to be taken down intentionally immediately before Premier Obama was going on stage.

forest on December 20, 2013 at 7:52 PM

Instead, they ask questions like none of this is happening. What world do they live in? CNN thinks that it’s more important to fill valuable airtime with “BREAKING NEWS: Obama’s New Year’s Resolution is XXXXX” than with actually informing the public.

Jeff Weimer on December 20, 2013 at 7:56 PM

Dereliction.

Minor Tweak.

Malfeasance.

Bmore on December 20, 2013 at 8:01 PM

If only MKH. We’ll have to wait until a Republican is President until those questions are asked.

Hog Wild on December 20, 2013 at 8:03 PM

Instead, they ask questions like none of this is happening. What world do they live in? CNN thinks that it’s more important to fill valuable airtime with “BREAKING NEWS: Obama’s New Year’s Resolution is XXXXX” than with actually informing the public.

Jeff Weimer on December 20, 2013 at 7:56 PM

I can think of two likely reasons they wouldn’t ask any of these questions. First, they’re morons who’ve bought into the White House talking point that this is just an issue with the website and that it’s been (mostly)fixed. Second, they’re afraid to hear the answers to these questions. Or worse, they know there is no answer to any of these questions.

Doughboy on December 20, 2013 at 8:07 PM

Your questions are quite fine, but nothing is ever going to be better than the one AP suggested earlier:

“What’s your back-up New Year’s resolution?”

Axe on December 20, 2013 at 8:09 PM

Why don’t more Americans love you more and appreciate more all you have done for them? Is it because they are stupid or ingrates or racists or all three?

VorDaj on December 20, 2013 at 8:10 PM

I look forward to when a Republican occupies the Oval Office so that the media will remember what their job is.

BTW – I am a registered Democrat.

myiq2xu on December 20, 2013 at 8:11 PM

Anyone that would have asked those questions would never have been invited to the presser.

sadatoni on December 20, 2013 at 8:13 PM

The TV in the break room at my office is tuned to CNN. I walked in just before the press conference and Wolf Blitzer was talking about how Obama was going to have to face some “tough questions” from the press corps(e). That was, hands down, the best laugh I’ve had all week!

Shadow on December 20, 2013 at 8:15 PM

You crack me up. Like this shite didn’t start before he even got elected.

I read his damned books, I knew.

Don’t act surprised, it makes you look naive.

wolly4321 on December 20, 2013 at 8:16 PM

*blinks*

Are those twin TOTUS minis atop the lectern?

Christien on December 20, 2013 at 8:18 PM

myiq2xu on December 20, 2013 at 8:11 PM

uriqz290? Im.Press.

Christien on December 20, 2013 at 8:19 PM

Here’s the question that needs to be asked and answered: When, Sir, are you going to tender you’re fvcking resignation?

TXUS on December 20, 2013 at 8:19 PM

I missed the presser/worship/ass-kissing session as I had to work to pay taxes for his vacation.

What was his New Years Resolution??

Pray to Mecca 6 times daily instead of the obligatory 5?

txdoc on December 20, 2013 at 8:22 PM

Anyone that would have asked those questions would never have been invited to the presser.

sadatoni on December 20, 2013 at 8:13 PM

Did you see it? He had a nice and naughty list, and read off his nice list. Chuckles all around. Anyway, maybe they would have been invited, but — naughty all the way.

Axe on December 20, 2013 at 8:24 PM

What did you get Bo and Sunny for Obamamas?

Christien on December 20, 2013 at 8:24 PM

You crack me up. Like this shite didn’t start before he even got elected.

I read his damned books, I knew.

Don’t act surprised, it makes you look naive.

wolly4321 on December 20, 2013 at 8:16 PM

That’s a bingo! Nothing that barky has done is a surprise, at all. The guy’s first political aspiration was to be a new Sukarno and people are acting surprised that he’s done exactly that. Many of them are the same people who were mortified at the prospect of having Barky’s alleged natural born citizen status actually proven. They were warned then that their intentional ignorance of the Constitution on this matter would only bode ill for the fate of the Constitution as things progressed … and they have, in spades. I don’t know if MKH was in that group in 2008 … but other bloggers here certainly were. And now, there’s no Constitution left, at all. No surprise. I would add to that people who were embarrassed at calls for impeachment, when it was always clear that barky was committing impeachable acts one after another, starting back during the 2008 campaign, even.

It’s time to do that Czechoslovakia thing, now. There’s nothing left in this fetid, demented American Socialist Superstate and no party even trying to defend the erstwhile Constitution.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on December 20, 2013 at 8:25 PM

It’s the time of the season to reflect on Obama shill Wolfie Blitzer’s famous Jeopardy game show answer of Jesus having been born in “Jerusalem.”

I forget whether that bankrupted Wolfie going into Celebrity Final Jeopardy for his selected charity (thus causing him to get free money to participate in Final Jeopardy) or whether he bankrupted himself already with that as the Final Jeopardy answer bankrupting a second time thus causing his selected charity to get the rock-bottom minimum which Jeopardy gives even if someone as block headed as Wolfie Blitzer is the contestant.

viking01 on December 20, 2013 at 8:26 PM

#3 — I want to be exempted from the income tax!

rbj on December 20, 2013 at 8:26 PM

Is that mistletoe above your head, Mister President?

Christien on December 20, 2013 at 8:32 PM

Here’s the question that needs to be asked and answered: When, Sir, are you going to tender you’re fvcking resignation?

TXUS on December 20, 2013 at 8:19 PM

I have already written it for him and at no charge. All he has to do is read it off his Mr. Teleprompter.

Good afternoon subjects. I mean, um, ah, my fellow Muslims. I mean, um, ah, my fellow Americans. I am hereby resigning from the office of your God, I mean, um, ah your Supreme Ruler. I mean the, um, ah, Presidency. [Be sure to scratch your nose with your middle finger]. I will spend some of my remaining time on Earth trying to forgive myself for making Kenya, I mean, um, ah, Venezuela, I mean, um, ah, America worse off when I could have made, um, ah, America better off with the same effort and I will spend the rest of my life living in a hut with my half-brother whats-his-name in Kenya studying the Holy Qur’an. I mean, um, ah, studying golf, I mean, um, ah, studying horticulture. Allah willing. I mean, um, ah, God bless you. [Be sure to scratch your nose with your middle finger again]

VorDaj on December 20, 2013 at 8:32 PM

Is gender assignment surgery for Pajama Boy covered?

Christien on December 20, 2013 at 8:34 PM

What were you doing the night of Sep 11, 2012, exactly?

JimK on December 20, 2013 at 8:39 PM

I have already written it for him and at no charge. All he has to do is read it off his Mr. Teleprompter.

Good afternoon subjects. I mean, um, ah, my fellow Muslims. I mean, um, ah, my fellow Americans. I am hereby resigning from the office of your God, I mean, um, ah your Supreme Ruler. I mean the, um, ah, Presidency. [Be sure to scratch your nose with your middle finger]. I will spend some of my remaining time on Earth trying to forgive myself for making Kenya, I mean, um, ah, Venezuela, I mean, um, ah, America worse off when I could have made, um, ah, America better off with the same effort and I will spend the rest of my life living in a hut with my half-brother whats-his-name in Kenya studying the Holy Qur’an. I mean, um, ah, studying golf, I mean, um, ah, studying horticulture. Allah willing. I mean, um, ah, God bless you. [Be sure to scratch your nose with your middle finger again]

VorDaj on December 20, 2013 at 8:32 PM

Since you haven’t used “Orion” or “corpsman” in the speech Barky should be able to handle it. I think he would probably read the bracketed parts out loud, though. It still works :)

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on December 20, 2013 at 8:42 PM

It is rare that the White House press corps asks exactly what I want it to ask, but today’s display, with a few notable exceptions, was truly irresponsible.

Not to mention reprehensible. The WH Press Corps, overall, demonstrated itself to be intellectually and ethically bankrupt in their utter and complete dereliction of their responsibility as the ‘Fourth Estate’. The press received special empowerment within the US Constitution in order to protect the rights of the people from tyranny. They have utterly abdicated that role…and deserve the contempt and plummeting circulation / ratings they are receiving from the majority of the American people.

When most of what you produce / deliver to your customer is crap, the customer will soon move elsewhere or ignore and ridicule you.

Athos on December 20, 2013 at 8:50 PM

I think I’m in a dream where these questions are asked and the chump in chief answers them. Other than that don’t count on it

jaywemm on December 20, 2013 at 8:53 PM

…why do you lie so much?

KOOLAID2 on December 20, 2013 at 9:01 PM

those are all great questions. I would have newfound respect for even the most liberal news “reporter” if they asked half those questions.

jetch on December 20, 2013 at 9:01 PM

What were you doing the night of Sep 11, 2012, exactly?

JimK on December 20, 2013 at 8:39 PM

O’Barky: Kneeling towards Mecca then partying with Jay-Z, infidel….

viking01 on December 20, 2013 at 9:08 PM

Given the high number of cancellation notices that have gone out—estimates are rough, but some think it may be in the millions if you add up data available to us state by state—combined with the persistent problems with the website, isn’t it possible that the net number of insured will actually go up in the new year?

That should say “… the net number of uninsured will actually go up in the new year?”

And it seems likely that it will. I would be shocked if the net number of uninsured was lower in January 2014 than it was in January 2013.

J.S.K. on December 20, 2013 at 9:57 PM

Silly rabbit, don’t you read the polls?

It’s still all GWB’s fault!

Oxymoron on December 20, 2013 at 9:57 PM

If only… heavy sigh.

MT on December 20, 2013 at 9:58 PM

Hey, from where do you derive the legal authority to change large parts of this law passed by Congress?

Answer: “Whatchoo gonna do bout it?”

bofh on December 20, 2013 at 11:03 PM

All of this discomfort is necessary to do the important thing, which is to run the entire insurance industry this way and that, but finally and eternally down the slaughterhouse chute.

Thus leaving us with no other alternatives but socialized med.

lauraw on December 20, 2013 at 11:19 PM

Sigh… A woman “in her pajamas” puts the entire press corps to shame.

Good questions mother Mary.

Gyro on December 20, 2013 at 11:31 PM

You need to be from another planet not to know the drill with the reporters at the WH. All questions are edited and numbered so the POTUS and the prompter are in sync. When you understand the dog and pony show it tells on its self. Why do you think Obama got so upset with the reporter that asked a question out of sync? The reporters also know their job is on the line if they don’t behave themselves. It’s almost rehearsed.

mixplix on December 20, 2013 at 11:54 PM

isn’t it possible that the net number of insured will actually go up in the new year

My reading comprehension isn’t the best, but doesn’t MKH mean uninsured (or “actually go down in the new year”)?

Jaibones on December 21, 2013 at 12:13 AM

As for the basic premise of her piece, this is cruel. Such perfect questions that are hanging in the air around O’Bozo, and instead America gets “what is your New Year’s resolution?” from the lap-dog press. Might as well have gutted a member of the press corps on the steps of the Capitol, MK.

Jaibones on December 21, 2013 at 12:16 AM

Question #14. You just stated that you cut the deficit that you inherited in half. Bush’s last deficit was roughly $450 billion.
Your first one was $1.4 trillion. The current figure is $680 billion, half of your deficit, but still $230 billion above Bush’s.

Are you lousy at math or just lying again?

Alferd Packer on December 21, 2013 at 12:55 AM

Well, this shows how seriously furious the media is about the lack of access and the propaganda photos, doesn’t it?

They won’t challenge him, and Obama at this point, having skated away from any possibly hostile questioners (he did take on Bill O’Reilly back when his “magic” ensured it wouldn’t be too tough) for so long, is never going to allow himself to be really interviewed.

At least CNN asked the probing “Resolution” question we’ve all been waiting on. Weak, sycophantic little weasels, every single one of them except Tapper, Karl, and Henry, and those guys aren’t as aggressive as any reporter was with Bush or Romney.

NOTE: Ezra Klein should never be referred to as a “reporter.” I don’t think he ever was one. He’s been a lying hack apologist for ObamaCare, but never a reporter.

Adjoran on December 21, 2013 at 1:18 AM

In another demonstration of royal largesse, the One also allowed those who had received cancellations to forgo any health insurance without penalty for a year. Isn’t that nice?

They had insurance. It was cancelled. So now they can choose to not have any while avoiding the fine. This is why voters agree that Obama really sympathizes with them more than Republicans.

virgo on December 21, 2013 at 2:27 AM

#13:

No one’s been fired or disciplined.

Seems like the only people who get fired in this administration are high-ranking military officers.

How ’bout we draft Ms Sebelius and a few like Eric Holder, make ‘em general or admiral for a few minutes

THEN fire them?

TimBuk3 on December 21, 2013 at 4:42 AM

I look forward to the follow up article (well, if the authors ever actually read comments under their articles, but I digress);

“10 Things a Feckless Republican Congress Should be doing to Stop a Lawless President who has Usurped their Constitutional Authority”

Here we have a president and Executive Branch that is virtually rewriting law at will. There was a time when that was the job of Congress, and they would seek redress in court to keep their authority.

Instead, we have Boehner and McConnell trading their Constitutional authority for a backroom deal on immigration.

Proof? What have the Republicans done to help the average person suffering under this lawlessness? Answer- nothing.

And we are a lesser nation because of it.

Marcus Traianus on December 21, 2013 at 6:47 AM

I say we re-title this post “MKH’s Twelve Theses”, and have someone walk up and nail them to the WH’s front door…

JohnGalt23 on December 21, 2013 at 8:26 AM

How about we have real journalists from the UK come to these pressers. Most of the true news concerning this admin comes from them anyway

neyney on December 21, 2013 at 10:33 AM

This is the second person that has come forth on this. The other person resigned when HHS wouldn’t accept his position. He was not in as high a position as this lady and didn’t get to brief the HHS Secretary.
I know how this works. In the 1980s I refused to sign off on testing I had proven, and the test engineers admitted, was improperly and intentionally performed at a nuclear power plant on reactor components. The schedule and the bonuses for management that were tied to it were at risk if the testing had to be reperformed. 4 times my manager attempted to convert me to his line of thinking but failed to get me to change my position. Each time I told him he could sign the acceptance over my protests; and he did and a week later there was a “massive layoff of one”.
I was a member of a NRC mandated audit organization for this project because of past performance. I was black listed with in that utility because of my efforts.
I still keep a copy of my review in my Pearl Harbor file. Oh, BTW, the NRC didn’t come to my aid.
Congress should watch and see if this lady gets the shaft too since the MSM won’t.

amr on December 21, 2013 at 10:59 AM

14. At this point, do you regret that you won a second term based on lies and propaganda?

15. Since you suspended the Constitution months ago, and are just making #$%& up, would you be willing to just appoint Mitt Romney President so that you can extend your Hawaiian vacation indefinitely?

ParisParamus on December 21, 2013 at 11:32 AM

I don’t know why anyone expects anything from Pravda and Izvestia. Obviously, from the list of people he called on, he didn’t expect any of the questions you want answered. Actually, I can’t believe he could answer them and, once that happened, what remaining credibility he has would be in shambles.

Sooner or later the press is going to have to get their act together. This law is such a disaster the press is going to have friends and family members adversely affected by it and then their attitude will change. Unless, of course, the press is willing to call the people adversely affected collateral damage.

bflat879 on December 21, 2013 at 12:27 PM

Sooner or later the press is going to have to get their act together. This law is such a disaster the press is going to have friends and family members adversely affected by it and then their attitude will change. Unless, of course, the press is willing to call the people adversely affected collateral damage.

bflat879 on December 21, 2013 at 12:27 PM

Sorry, but you are being naive. The moonbat agenda is more important to these freaks than grandma’s pace maker or love of country. It always has been. Libtards will never, ever, ever admit their ‘ideas’ are poisonous and will lead us all to ruin. Even if they turn on Barry they will defend his stupid Marxist policies.

Liberals view themselves as morally superior and that is why their ideas are always best. Who needs an opposition party when dems are always right?

DeweyWins on December 21, 2013 at 1:07 PM

ROFL at these questions.

As if!

RedNewEnglander on December 21, 2013 at 8:06 PM

And, could we get some assurances from you that the administration will be transparent about these numbers as we move forward?

LOL! Oh please, MKH you are killing me with laughter.

Gunlock Bill on December 23, 2013 at 9:20 AM