“Is this a P.R. disaster that fits right into the ‘government is broken’ message? I’m afraid that’s probably true,” said Jared Bernstein, the former chief economist to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. But, he added, “If this works well a few months from now, we’ll probably be fine.”
The president is said to be immensely frustrated with the rollout of what is a central part of his most important domestic policy. A stickler for detail and discipline, Mr. Obama has directed his senior White House staff to take charge of a vigorous effort to correct the problem, and to provide him detailed updates every evening.
But he may be too late to contain the damage, at least in the short term.
Yuval Levin, the editor of National Affairs magazine and a conservative opponent of the health law, said the government’s inability to get the Web site working raises broader questions about how well the rest of the health care law will be implemented in the next several years.
“The promise of the administrative state becomes harder to believe in when it fails in practice,” Mr. Levin said. He added that it was easy to overstate the impact of a Web site that would get fixed eventually. But he said that “there’s a sense that in trying to do too much, the government creates questions about whether it can do anything at all.”