At some point, we're going to move from discussion of how bad the ObamaCare website is, to how bad the ObamaCare policies are, but that can only happen after the end of November, when the administration will call a touchdown, after dropping the goal wherever they've managed to move the goalposts. Pass the Victory Gin! Meanwhile, the ObamaCare story is so vast, and has so many threads, that I'm not even sure I've got a handle on it any more, so I'm going to make this post a (longish) compendium of the current state of play. On moving the goalposts:
"The 30th of November is not a magic go, no go date. It is a work of constant improvement. We have some very specific things we know we need to complete by the 30th and that punch list is getting knocked out every week," Sebelius told The Associated Press. ....
The Obama administration has staked its credibility on turning HealthCare.gov around by the end of this month. From the president on down, officials have said the website will be running smoothly for the "vast majority of users" by Nov. 30, but have been vague about what that actually means.
The definition has morphed in the past few weeks. At an Oct. 30 congressional hearing, Sebelius projected "an optimally functioning website" by the end of November. On Nov. 5, Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, testified that the site would be "fully functioning" by that date.
"We recognize that there will still be periodic spikes, glitches, whatever that people will experience," [Sebelius said on Tuesday].
My family always used to play this Stan Freberg album on Thanksgiving, so here it is:
ObamaCare Clusterfuck: There's the "train wreck," and then there's Garance Franke-Ruta's meta-train wreck
Republicans love to call Obamacare a train wreck.
Of course, calling Obamacare a train wreck is just using a metaphor. But it's a bad one. And bad metaphors are bad news, because they create distorting frameworks for thinking about important issues.
All this could be true, but what Garance Franke-Ruta omits to mention -- whether out of ignorance or malevolence, we just can't know -- is that the "train wreck" metaphor was first applied to ObamaCare by none other than Max Baucus, the putative author of the bill (the real authors being the health insurance industry in the person of Liz Fowler, the Wellstone VP who was his chief of staff before leaving for the White House, and then exiting through the revolving door to K Street, where she lobbies for Big Pharma). Read below the fold...
This isn't at all fully thought through, but it's been on my mind, and it's the basis of more work that I have coming down the pike. (It's the theoretical basis for a newer Campaign Countdown). So herewith. The question on my mind is distinguishing between a thesis like "Boomers are responsible for X" and a thesis like "the ruling class is responsible for X." I believe the first thesis is nonsense (leaving aside the pragmatics of it), and the second is not. This post is an attempt to explain why.
Take the thesis that "Boomers are responsible for X" (Please!). I don't agree with it in the slightest. I need to work this out more fully, but in short form, I think that thesis is a sort of category error. (An older tech friend of mine suggests that "is" be replaced, where found, with "can be characterized by'; what follows partakes of that flavor.)
Charlie Pierce, (not for the first time) is consumed with iration. The cause of his irritation: the threat by Inifinito Gold (love that name...) to sue the Country of Costa Rica for $1 Billion (U.S.).
Lately, I've had the feeling that “progressive” journalists and commentators too often pull their punches in calling attention to social problems, by underestimating the magnitude of problem-related statistics such as the unemployment rate and the number of fatalities due to lack of health insurance in the United States. My theory about this is that “progressives” are being defensive in their approach and bending over backwards to give the right wing the benefit of the doubt by understating numbers out of an abundance of caution. Read below the fold...
ObamaCare Clusterfuck: Like I've been saying, ObamaCare and the website debacle are a teaching opportunity for single payer
Nancy Folbre provides a fine example in the Times. I'll quote her conclusion, which I think should have been the lead:
A single-payer insurance system, whether based on an extension of Medicare or on the Canadian model, promises many profoundly important benefits. Right off the mark, it promises simplicity.
Why should it have been the lead? Because it speaks to the ordinary
consumer citizen, to whom the case for single payer must be made. (Yes, I know the Times demographic skews way away from the poor schlubs like us, but you want the Times demographic regurgitating a lead will propagate as widely as possible.)
The rest of the article is pitched to policy makers and influencers and NPR-believers, but not the worse for that: Read below the fold...
[W]hile the IRS is in charge of enforcing the individual mandate, Health and Human Services will handle applications for people who want to be exempted. Millions are likely to apply for those exemptions, including the 5.2 million low-income people who live in states that did not expand Medicaid.
“The IRS is in an unenviable position because the data is coming from HHS, and I wouldn’t be very confident they’ll do much better here than on their other tasks,” said Brian Haile, a health policy analyst with the tax firm Jackson Hewitt.
For long-term deficit reduction, lawmakers would need to change the biggest drivers of the debt, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, which make up almost half of federal spending. Many lawmakers are hesitant to trim these programs with a record number of Americans living in poverty and amid pushback from interest groups including AARP, the nation’s largest seniors’ lobby with 37 million members.
Republican aides said the chances of a smaller-scale agreement hinge on whether Murray drops her demand that so-called loophole closings be part of a deal and instead accepts increased user fees as a form of revenue. Republicans may be willing to offer concessions such as extending unemployment benefits to reach a deal, they said.
I like it a lot better when they're posturing and fighting and getting nothing done than when they're quiet. When they're quiet, they're co-operating, and that means they're up to no good. Read below the fold...
Not just the football players raping a 16-year-old girl (brought to national attention by Anonymous, to their great credit) but the high school administrators obstructing justice by trying to cover it up:
Steubenville City Schools Superintendent Michael McVey faces three felony counts [from the grand jury]: one charge of tampering with evidence and two counts of obstructing justice. He also is charged with making a false statement and obstructing official business, both misdemeanors, [Republican Attorney General Mike] DeWine said.
Also indicted was elementary school principal Lynnett Gorman and wrestling coach Seth Fluharty, both of whom are charged with misdemeanor failure to report child abuse. Volunteer assistant Steubenville football coach Matt Bellardine was charged with four misdemeanors: allowing underage drinking, obstructing official business, making a false statement and contributing to the unruliness or delinquency of a child.
In October, [the grand jury] indicted William Rhinaman, 53, the director of technology for Steubenville City Schools, on charges of tampering with evidence, obstruction of justice, obstructing official business and perjury.
I tend to think of corruption as pay-offs: Money in an envelope from a developer to a code enforcement officer, or a bankster wining and dining the municipal finance authorities; "under the table" stuff. (And we certainly have a rich vocabulary for corruption, don't we?) But this corruption -- the evidence tampering -- is different and perhaps more insidious. WaPo: Read below the fold...
Remember the good old days when we could at least protect ourselves by avoiding web sites with potential security problems? Well, as of now, those sites are mandated...at least for people requiring subsidies.