Quotes of the day

The Obama administration’s tech “surge” to repair the Obamacare enrollment system may be more of a slow crawl — but a senior official said Thursday she’s confident the system will be running smoothly for consumers by mid-December.

The agency quarterbacking the repair process told reporters Thursday that any fixes to HealthCare.gov would be “incremental.” Consumers may not even detect them…

CMS offered few clues about what’s really weighing down HealthCare.gov, other than to say experts are targeting software “bugs” that caused error messages and blank screens.


“March 31st is still a significant ways away,” Carney said, “and we are working to make the system better. The system was an inadequate website on October 1st, and it still isn’t where it needs to be today, by any means. But it’s significantly better today than it was a week ago, the week before that and certainly on October 1st. That’s the progress we’re looking for. I think I used the go-to sports analogy that this is three yards and a cloud of dust every day. But that means moving forward, and that means improvements every day that will help Americans get the information they need so they can get the insurance they deserve.”

Henry pointed out that it’s customary to punt in that situation.

“You get four downs, and then you get a first down,” Carney replied, “and then you score a touchdown.”


The Obama administration said Thursday “nearly 700,000” Americans have completed Obamacare applications since enrollment began Oct. 1.

That doesn’t mean 700,000 people have purchased health insurance, however.

“The way that we are defining completed application means someone who has gotten through the full application process and gotten their eligibility determination,” Julie Bataille, communications director for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services at the Department of Health and Human Services, told reporters on a conference call Thursday…

On the call, Bataille didn’t answer a couple of questions about whether Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius knew about the problems with HealthCare.gov before the site launched and declined to give any further details on the so-called Tech Surge team helping to get the site up and running now.


After uniting against Republican efforts earlier this month to delay President Barack Obama’s health care law, a growing number Democrats in Congress now want to extend the enrollment deadline, and one senator wants to delay the penalty for not complying.

Six Senate Democrats up for re-election next year have proposed delaying the new March 31 deadline for applying for coverage while the program’s problems are ironed out. A seventh, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, is co-authoring a bill to postpone the $95 penalty for people who fail to meet the deadline for acquiring insurance…

“If we want this law to work, we’ve got to make it right, we’ve got to fix it,” Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., one of the law’s leading authors, said at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing Thursday on the sign-up problems.


Tech experts who spoke with FoxNews.com say that, like any good military strategy, this “surge” is not just about the number of soldiers, but how they’re used. The administration’s plan to enlist a team of experts and specialists from both the private and public sector could be a big waste of money if they aren’t used correctly.

“If you start throwing people in and start having them just fixing bugs it could be a recipe for disaster where you end up with more bugs than when you started,” explained James Turner, a member of the technical staff at software company Beeonics and contributing editor at O’Reilly.com…

“If you have a project that is behind schedule, then oftentimes adding more people to the project will just make you more behind schedule,” said Edwards. “People will need to be brought up to speed, and this will create more overhead and demand more coordination.”

More than ever they will need the right general, and in this regard, that means management, said Turner, and “frankly, the government industry right now sucks at project management.”


CGI Federal has been paid $112 million for its work on the Web site so far, which is certainly higher than the $70 million mentioned above. Moreover, the federal government has obligated $196 million, so the tab could certainly run that high if CGI submits the bills…

QSSI indicated that its contract had been funded to $85 million, though at this point we are not sure if that is obligated or TCV funds. (Recall that GAO said that $55 million had been obligated.)

To sum up: The floor for spending on the Web site to date appears to be at least $170 million, with an upward potential of nearly $300 million.


So far, the Republican effort to destroy Obamacare has failed to appeal to youths. A majority of them support the law, according to Gallup, the only age group to feel that way. But the way the GOP frames the debate around implementation of the health care law can change to address Millennials biggest concerns, says Kristen Soltis Anderson, a GOP pollster who has examined the party’s problem with youth voters.

“Republicans’ former arguments about the specter of big government were too vague and out there; now it’s something that’s very concrete,” said Soltis.

Millennials, Soltis argued, care about results, not ideology. “That’s the power here. Rather than being an esoteric philosophical argument about big government, this is now concrete, you can see it on your screen.”


Putting aside the fact that the federal exchange is much larger to start than anyone anticipated, because so many Republican governors opted out of creating their own exchanges, and that the demand has been strikingly high, I view the problem in a broader way. It is the larger failure of public administration that has been endemic in the Obama White House, and is probably the president’s most significant weakness…

Obama failed to fill the key post of IRS commissioner for FIVE YEARS. A savvy commissioner, in place early on, would have understood the potential train wreck ahead over the long-term IRS mishandling of 501(c)4 and (c)6 applications, and would have set up a process to create a bright line both to eliminate or ameliorate the political abuses of the tax code by groups like American Crossroads GPS and to give the career staff the clear guidelines they needed. And an experienced executive-branch veteran and public-management expert inside the White House would have seen the problems emerging with HealthCare.gov and begun the urgent management repair work earlier…

There is no doubt that a number of qualified people were kept out or frightened away by the restrictions. But there were plenty of qualified people remaining in the job pool. It was the remarkable lack of concern with managing the government, seeing the effective implementation of the laws as important as their passage, that is the key here. And the buck starts and stops with the president.


And there is the enduring mystery of why the president, who in his career has attempted to persuade the American people to have greater faith in and reliance on the federal government’s ability to help, continues to go forward with an astounding lack of interest in the of government.

He talks but he doesn’t implement, never makes it work. He allows the IRS under his watch to be humiliated by scandal, waste, ill judgements prompted by ideological assumptions. He allows his signature program, the one that will make his name in the history books, to debut in failure. In response he says bland, rounded words that leave you wondering what just got said.

We’re all reading of Jack Kennedy. He stayed up nights with self-recrimination after failure. “How could I have been so stupid?” he asked about the Bay of Pigs. A foreseeable mistake and he’d blown it, listened to the wrong people, made the wrong judgments. That man suffered over his missteps. He worried about his reputation, and the reputation of his government, and of America.

It is disorienting to not see this in a president. It is another thing about this story that feels not only historic, but historically strange.


“The majority of people calling for me to resign I would say are people who I don’t work for and who do not want this program to work in the first place.”


Via Ed Driscoll. July 28, 2010:


“He can’t even design a system that is supposed to fail.”