Madness

‘‘Of all the damage to be done politically here, one of the greatest concerns I have is that somehow John Boehner gets compromised,’’ said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a former House member and a Boehner supporter.

Something interesting happened over the past couple of weeks.

First a little bit of background.

Congress failed to pass a budget this year. The result of that failure was predictable. The government ran out of budget authority to continue to operate.

At the same time, the government was also exhausting its ability to borrow money through the sale of bonds in order to pay its bills. This was also predictable based on the rate at which the government was authorized to spend money compared with the rate at which tax revenues were coming in.

While these two things are related, they reflect two VERY different dynamics. In the first case, budget authority reflects the government’s ability to incur NEW debts. In the second case, the credit limit is the government’s ability to borrow money to pay bills that have come due as a result of the exercise of the budget authority that the government already had.

In other words, raising the government credit limit DOES NOT affect the deficit.

Giving the government more budget authority potentially DOES affect the deficit.

Ted Cruz seized on these two financial events as a political opportunity to enhance his standing with conservatives and perhaps position himself for a 2016 presidential run. He did this using the Madman Theory by suggesting that Republicans in the House and Senate were willing to shut down the government AND prevent the government from paying its bills if Senate Republicans and the President didn’t agree to their demands. They then made good on their first promise and shut down the government.

What happened next was also predictable.

Tea Party Republicans rallied around Ted Cruz.

More seasoned politicians questioned whether this plan would work based on past history and the fact that there weren’t even close to enough votes in the Senate to support the plan.

As the reality of the government shutdown spread throughout the country, Ted Cruz and his supporters including Glenn Beck and Fox News tried to convince the country that it was the fault of the President and the Democrats.

Everyone suffered losses in the polls, but Republicans suffered the most with historic new lows in popularity.

“The only reason why the Democrats don’t look terrible is we look even worse,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a member of Senate GOP leadership.

As it became obvious that the President and the Democrats were willing to call the Republican’s bluff, House Republicans began distancing themselves from this plan. At last count there were more than enough with Republican support to pass a simple bill to re-open the government and raise the credit limit.

Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte called the tactic of tying Obamacare to the shutdown legislation “an ill-conceived strategy from the beginning, not a winning strategy.”

“It’s very, very serious,” Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, warned on Tuesday. “Republicans have to understand we have lost this battle, as I predicted weeks ago, that we would not be able to win because we were demanding something that was not achievable.”

“We took some bread crumbs and left an entire meal on the table,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. “This has been a really bad two weeks for the Republican Party.”

“Let’s just say sometimes learning what can’t be accomplished is an important long term thing, and hopefully for some of the members they’ve learned it’s impossible to defund mandatory programs by shutting down the federal government,” Republican Senator Burr said.

The last steps are now playing out.

Boehner failed to craft a bill in the House because the 30 or so Tea Party Republicans were unwilling to support any compromise even though it would further weaken the political position of their party.

Democrats and Republicans will pass a bi-partisan bill in the Senate. Ted Cruz will vote against it, but he won’t filibuster it because he isn’t a Madman, just an opportunistic politician.

That bill will come up for a vote in House and will pass with a comfortable majority comprised of all the Democrats and a large number of Republicans.

This particular bill will set up another potential confrontation in six months, but it will not be a repeat of what we’ve just seen. Those who would threaten to use this strategy again will not have the support to even start.

Finally after five years of political dysfunction, Congress will start working again. That’s because more Republican members are now more afraid of the voters in their districts than they are opposition from Tea Party. Mitch McConnell will be the hero and emerge as the leader of “rational” Republicans. Compromise will become the new badge of honor with the Senate modeling that behavior. Getting things done will become the new measure of success.

It will prove, however, too little and too late. The Tea Party will run candidates in Republican primaries against those they feel betrayed them. It won’t matter whether they win or lose because voters in November are NOT going to re-elect anyone who behaved like a Madman. The Democrats will win the seats they need to take control of the House and retain control of the Senate and government will begin operating again. Unemployment will come down. The economy will grow robustly in the last two years of the Obama administration. Immigration reform will pass. Healthcare will roll out. The tax code will get re-written and address income inequality. We’ll fix Medicare and Social Security and take the first substantive steps to deal with climate change. Deficits will come down and debt as a percentage of GDP will drop to safe manageable levels. As long as the Democrats can avoid shooting themselves in the foot, they will be well positioned to retain their majorities and the White House in 2016 regardless of who Republicans choose.

On the Republican side, we’ll see if the Tea Party retains enough influence to get one of their candidates nominated in 2016. If so, it will be a Democratic landslide. If not, there is a very real possibility that the Tea Party may align with the libertarians or start their own third party. If that happens, it will virtually guarantee a Democratic win and confirm what we have known about the Tea Party from pretty much the beginning. They ARE mad.

Democracy will again begin to work in predictable ways as the Tea Party retreats back to the shadows of fringe politics. History will later attribute this moment in time as the point at which conservative radicalism was defeated by Obama’s firm resolve.

15 Responses to “Madness”

  1. keith says:

    WWWOOOOWWWWWW!
    Do you believe this?
    The problem is you´re going to have to explain just what you´re going to do for all of this. Examples;

    *How do you change income inequality? What exactly do you do?
    *Just what are you going to enact as imagration reform. Remember the middle 75% or so do not want a path to citizenship..
    *How are you going to change the climate. Just what are you going to do?

    And so on…. Remember, dems are just as nuts…

    The Democrats will win the seats they need to take control of the House and retain control of the Senate and government will begin operating again. Unemployment will come down. The economy will grow robustly in the last two years of the Obama administration. Immigration reform will pass. Healthcare will roll out. The tax code will get re-written and address income inequality. We’ll fix Medicare and Social Security and take the first substantive steps to deal with climate change. Deficits will come down and debt as a percentage of GDP will drop to safe manageable levels.

  2. Jeff Beamsley says:

    I just provided a list reflected the legislative agenda that Obama ran on in 2012.

    If you are interested in details, I suggest you go to the Whitehouse.gov site where it is all spelled out.

    It clearly isn’t stuff that you agree with, but that’s not the issue.

    70%+ people didn’t want the government shutdown either and that didn’t appear to slow the Republican march to their inevitable defeat.

    If the Democrats over reach and misread the intent of those that supported them in 2012, they will be held accountable in 2016. Otherwise you are going to see corporate and individual taxes on the wealthy go up through a combination of rate increases and loophole closures. You are going to see those who are producing greenhouse gases finally being held fiscally accountable for the costs that we all bear from the effects of those gases. Immigration reform without a path to citizenship will not work. Hopefully the debate on this topic will help educate those who currently oppose a path to citizenship.

    Sorry democrats are NOT just as nuts.

    What our democracy depends on is compromise. That compromise allows both parties to marginalize the “nuts” in their respective ranks and come up with common ground solutions that reflect the best ideas from both sides. Republicans stepped away from the bargaining table in 2008. Hopefully this most recent defeat will force them to re-engage and commit to making government work.

    If not, voters will continue to punish them until they finally have a sufficient number of more moderate representatives in office that both parties begin to work together again.

  3. keith says:

    Voters have not punshed them you seem to be failing to see this. Since 2006 more republicans have been voted in national office then Dems. Also look at the governorships and state congresses…… Sorry OBAMA won. He would ALWAYS WIN, and many more then you think have no clue what that means…….

  4. Jeff Beamsley says:

    If you look at the polls, the voters who are going to make a difference (moderates and independents) are VERY unhappy with the Tea Party.

    Unfavorable views of the tea party have nearly doubled over the past two years, making the conservative movement more unpopular than ever, a Pew Research survey released Wednesday finds.

    Also I just posted some anecdotal evidence suggesting that the business community is going to actively oppose Tea Party candidates in upcoming primaries with more moderate business-friendly candidates who are NOT going to shut down the government or threaten financial markets with a government default.

    We’ve been through your election “math” before. Each election has a winner and a loser. The outcomes of those elections reflect the country’s support of the platforms and policies put forth by the two parties. Counting governors, while interesting, isn’t quite as revealing since the governor of California counts the same as the governor of Wyoming even though from a population point of view it would take 80 Wyomings to make up one California.

    Here’s what Wikipedia said of each national election since 2006. In quick summary, Democrats won three and Republicans won one.

    2006
    The 2006 United States midterm elections were held on Tuesday, November 7, 2006. All United States House of Representatives seats and one third of the United States Senate seats were contested in this election, as well as 36 state governorships, many state legislatures, four territorial legislatures and many state and local races. The election resulted in a sweeping victory for the Democratic Party which captured the House of Representatives, the Senate, and a majority of governorships and state legislatures from the Republican Party.

    2008
    The 2008 United States general elections were held on November 4. The result was a significant victory for the Democratic Party on the national level, as they increased majorities in both houses of Congress and won the Presidency. Democrat Barack Obama defeated Republican John McCain in the presidential election. Riding Obama’s coattails, the Democrats also picked up net gains of 8 Senate seats and 21 House seats.

    The governorships of 11 states and two U.S. territories were also up for election. Only one of them changed party hands: Democrat Jay Nixon won the Missouri gubernatorial election, replacing Republican Matt Blunt, who decided to retire instead of run for a second term.

    2010
    The 2010 United States elections were held on Tuesday, November 2, 2010. During this midterm election year, all 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives and 37 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate were contested in this election along with 38 state and territorial governorships, 46 state legislatures (except Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia),[1] four territorial legislatures and numerous state and local races. The election occurred in the middle of Democratic President Barack Obama’s first term in office.

    Approximately 82.5 million people voted.[2] The Democratic Party suffered massive defeats in many national and state level elections, with many seats switching to Republican Party control. The Republican Party gained 63 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, recapturing the majority, and making it the largest seat change since 1948 and the largest for any midterm election since the 1938 midterm elections. The Republicans gained six seats in the U.S. Senate, expanding its minority, and also gained 680 seats in state legislative races,[3][4][5] to break the previous majority record of 628 set by Democrats in the post-Watergate elections of 1974.[5] This left Republicans in control of 25 state legislatures, compared to the 15 still controlled by Democrats. After the election, Republicans took control of 29 of the 50 State Governorships.

    2012
    Little overall change occurred on the Federal level. Incumbent President Barack Obama was elected to a second term, with the national popular vote percentage being 51.1% to 47.2%, and the Electoral College vote being 332 to 206, for Obama and challenger Mitt Romney, respectively. The Democratic Party held control of the Senate and the Republican Party maintained a majority in the House of Representatives. Republicans also held on to a majority of governorships.

  5. keith says:

    I said ¨SINCE¨2006 which does not include 2006…. This means all elections influenced by Obama. There were MORE republicans sent to national office then dems…

    Here´s where the Repubs recently failed…. The best way to defeat Obamacare, if this is the goal, is to get out of the way and let the focus be on….. wait for it…. ON OBAMACARE!!! Much like in debate, when your opponet it digging himslef a grave, get out of the way and let them keep digging! It will fail on its own..

    Instead, the repubs put the attention on themselves and were silly enough to think Obama wouldn´t blow up the world to save Obamacare.

    Oct. 18, 2013, 1:08 a.m. EDT

    Obamacare woes widen as insurers get wrong data

    By Christopher Weaver and Louise Radnofsky
    Insurers say the federal health-care marketplace is generating flawed data that is straining their ability to handle even the trickle of enrollees who have gotten through so far, in a sign that technological problems extend further than the website traffic and software issues already identified.

    Emerging errors include duplicate enrollments, spouses reported as children, missing data fields and suspect eligibility determinations, say executives at more than a dozen health plans. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Nebraska said it had to hire temporary workers to contact new customers directly to resolve inaccuracies in submissions. Medical Mutual of Ohio said one customer had successfully signed up for three of its plans.

    The flaws could do lasting damage to the law if customers are deterred from signing up or mistakenly believe they have obtained coverage.

    “The longer this takes to resolve . . . the harder it will be to get people to [come back and] sign up,” said Aetna

  6. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Ok fine, from 2008 on, the Democrats won two and the Republicans won one. Or you can start from 2012 on and say that the Democrats have won ALL of the recent elections. The original point was the voters are growing tired of the Tea Party. They elected them in 2010 to do a job. They pretty much did that job. Now voters want them to behave more responsibly and the Tea Party is refusing. So voters, who punished the Tea Party in 2012 will punish them again in 2014.

    Tea Party tactics on Obamacare are just one example of how irresponsible they are. They do not CARE about outcomes. They only care about acting out like tired children. The problem is that everyone already knows that they are both angry, frustrated, and tired. Just like the kid that throws a tantrum in the grocery store, the experienced parents ignore the tantrum. That’s what Obama did and it resonated with all but the most conservative voters who criticized the president for not attempting to negotiate with this angry child. Voters are currently prepared to give the Tea Party the “time out” that they need to compose themselves.

  7. keith says:

    Nice try Jeff but you are wrong… again you´re rephrasing my point to suit yours. I said ¨SINCE 2006 there have been more Republicans elected to national office then Democrats.¨ Period… thats all I said and it is a true statement. How you are calling wins and losses is another matter. MORE republicans won seats then Dems, and the reasons don´t matter either. So before you talk about the big titlewave change thats occured, and has changed things forever, which it may have, just keep that in mine. More Repubs have been elected to national office since 2006 then Dems. Fact

    Now to more importante matters.

    ¨BUSH KNEW THERE WAS NO WMD´s¨

    Will you be willing to say ¨OBAMA KNEW HIS EXCHANGES WERE CRAP…¨

    Pharma & Healthcare

    |

    10/14/2013 @ 11:39AM |1,004,374 views

    Obamacare’s Website Is Crashing Because It Doesn’t Want You To Know How Costly Its Plans Are

    Avik Roy Avik Roy, Contributor

    The Healthcare.gov website requires that individuals looking for coverage enter personal information before comparing plans. IT experts believe that this requirement is causing the website to crash.

    A growing consensus of IT experts, outside and inside the government, have figured out a principal reason why the website for Obamacare’s federally-sponsored insurance exchange is crashing. Healthcare.gov forces you to create an account and enter detailed personal information before you can start shopping. This, in turn, creates a massive traffic bottleneck, as the government verifies your information and decides whether or not you’re eligible for subsidies. HHS bureaucrats knew this would make the website run more slowly. But they were more afraid that letting people see the underlying cost of Obamacare’s insurance plans would scare people away.

    HHS didn’t want users to see Obamacare’s true costs

    “Healthcare.gov was initially going to include an option to browse before registering,” report Christopher Weaver and Louise Radnofsky in the Wall Street Journal. “But that tool was delayed, people familiar with the situation said.” Why was it delayed? “An HHS spokeswoman said the agency wanted to ensure that users were aware of their eligibility for subsidies that could help pay for coverage, before they started seeing the prices of policies.” (Emphasis added.)

    As you know if you’ve been following this space, Obamacare’s bevy of mandates, regulations, taxes, and fees drives up the cost of the insurance plans that are offered under the law’s public exchanges. A Manhattan Institute analysis I helped conduct found that, on average, the cheapest plan offered in a given state, under Obamacare, will be 99 percent more expensive for men, and 62 percent more expensive for women, than the cheapest plan offered under the old system. And those disparities are even wider for healthy people.

    That raises an obvious question. If 50 million people are uninsured today, mainly because insurance is too expensive, why is it better to make coverage even costlier?

    Political objectives trumped operational objectives

    The answer is that Obamacare wasn’t designed to help healthy people with average incomes get health insurance. It was designed to force those people to pay more for coverage, in order to subsidize insurance for people with incomes near the poverty line, and those with chronic or costly medical conditions.

    But the laws’ supporters and enforcers don’t want you to know that, because it would violate the President’s incessantly repeated promise that nothing would change for the people that Obamacare doesn’t directly help. If you shop for Obamacare-based coverage without knowing if you qualify for subsidies, you might be discouraged by the law’s steep costs.

    So, by analyzing your income first, if you qualify for heavy subsidies, the website can advertise those subsidies to you instead of just hitting you with Obamacare’s steep premiums. For example, the site could advertise plans that cost “$0″ or “$30″ instead of explaining that the plan really costs $200, and that you’re getting a subsidy of $200 or $170. But you’ll have to be at or near the poverty line to gain subsidies of that size; most people will either not qualify for a subsidy, or qualify for a small one that, net-net, doesn’t make up for the law’s cost hikes.

    This political objective—masking the true underlying cost of Obamacare’s insurance plans—far outweighed the operational objective of making the federal website work properly. Think about it the other way around. If the “Affordable Care Act” truly did make health insurance more affordable, there would be no need to hide these prices from the public.

    Subsidy verification created a traffic bottleneck

    Comparable private-sector e-commerce sites, like eHealthInsurance.com, allow you to shop for plans and compare prices simply by entering your age and your ZIP code. After you’ve selected a plan you like, you fill out an on-line application. That substantially winnows down the number of people who rely on the site for network-intensive tasks.

    The federal government’s decision to force people to apply before shopping, Weaver and Radnofsky write, “proved crucial because, before users can begin shopping for coverage, they must cross a busy digital junction in which data are swapped among separate computer systems built or run by contractors including CGI Group Inc., the healthcare.gov developer, Quality Software Services Inc., a UnitedHealth Group Inc. unit; and credit-checker Experian PLC. If any part of the web of systems fails to work properly, it could lead to a traffic jam blocking most users from the marketplace.”

    Jay Angoff, a former federal official at the agency that oversees the exchange, told the Journal that he was surprised by the decision. “People should be able to get quotes” without entering all of that information upfront.

    Weaver and Radnofsky say that the core problem stems from “the slate of registration systems [that] intersect with Oracle Identity Manager, a software component embedded in a government identity-checking system.” The main Healthcare.gov web page collects information using the CGI Group technology. Then that data is transferred to a system built by Quailty Software Services. QSS then sends data to Experian, the credit-history firm. But the key “identity management system” employed by QSS was designed by Oracle, and according to the Journal’s sources, the Oracle software isn’t playing nicely with the other information systems.

    Oracle hotly denies these claims. “Our software is the identical product deployed in most of the world’s most complex systems…our software is running properly,” said an Oracle spokeswoman in a statement.

    ‘It’s awful, just awful’

    Robert Pear and colleagues at the New York Times have a piece up today detailing the serious problems with the federal exchange, problems that may get worse, not better. They confirm what we already knew: that the Obama administration refused to delay the implementation of the exchanges, despite the well-known problems, because they were afraid of the political blowback. “Former government officials say the White House, which was calling the shots, feared that any backtracking would further embolden Republican critics who were trying to repeal the health care law.”

    As I documented last week, IT and insurance experts have been saying for at least eight months that implementation of the exchanges was going badly, that as early as February officials were warning of a “third world experience.” The Times’ sources are just as blunt. “These are not glitches,” said one insurance executive. “The extent of the problems is pretty enormous. At the end of our [conference calls with the administration], people say, ‘It’s awful, just awful.’”

    “We foresee a train wreck,” said another executive in a February interview with the Times. “We don’t have the IT specifications. The level of angst in health plans is growing by leaps and bounds. The political people in the administration do not understand how far behind they are.” Richard Foster, the former chief actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said last week that “so much testing of the new system was so far behind schedule, I was not confident it would work well.”

    Henry Chao, the deputy chief information officer at CMS who made the “third world experience” comment, was told by his superiors that failure to meet the October 1 launch deadline “was not an option,” according to the Times.

    White House knowingly chose to court disaster

    Think about it. It’s quite possible that much of this disaster could have been avoided if the Obama administration had been willing to be open with the public about the degree to which Obamacare escalates the cost of health insurance. If they had, then a number of the problems with the exchange’s software architecture would never have arisen. But that would require admitting that the “Affordable Care Act” was not accurately named.

    The White House knew that its people on the front lines, people like Henry Chao, were worried that the exchanges would get botched. They saw the Congressional Research Service memorandum detailing that the administration has missed half of the statutory deadlines assigned by the law. But they were more afraid of the P.R. disaster of disclosing Obamacare’s high premiums than they were of the P.R. disaster of crashing websites. What you see is the result.

    Pharma & Healthcare

    |

    10/14/2013 @ 11:39AM |1,004,374 views

    Obamacare’s Website Is Crashing Because It Doesn’t Want You To Know How Costly Its Plans Are

    Avik Roy Avik Roy, Contributor

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    The Healthcare.gov website requires that individuals looking for coverage enter personal information before comparing plans. IT experts believe that this requirement is causing the website to crash.

    A growing consensus of IT experts, outside and inside the government, have figured out a principal reason why the website for Obamacare’s federally-sponsored insurance exchange is crashing. Healthcare.gov forces you to create an account and enter detailed personal information before you can start shopping. This, in turn, creates a massive traffic bottleneck, as the government verifies your information and decides whether or not you’re eligible for subsidies. HHS bureaucrats knew this would make the website run more slowly. But they were more afraid that letting people see the underlying cost of Obamacare’s insurance plans would scare people away.

    HHS didn’t want users to see Obamacare’s true costs

    “Healthcare.gov was initially going to include an option to browse before registering,” report Christopher Weaver and Louise Radnofsky in the Wall Street Journal. “But that tool was delayed, people familiar with the situation said.” Why was it delayed? “An HHS spokeswoman said the agency wanted to ensure that users were aware of their eligibility for subsidies that could help pay for coverage, before they started seeing the prices of policies.” (Emphasis added.)

    How Obamacare’s Exchanges Turned Into A ‘Third World Experience’ Avik RoyAvik Roy Contributor

    Double Down: Obamacare Will Increase Avg. Individual-Market Insurance Premiums By 99% For Men, 62% For Women Avik RoyAvik Roy Contributor

    CMS on Obamacare’s Health Insurance Exchanges: ‘Let’s Just Make Sure It’s Not a Third-World Experience’ Avik RoyAvik Roy Contributor

    Enrollment In Obamacare’s Federal Exchange, So Far, May Only Be In ‘Single Digits’ Avik RoyAvik Roy Contributor

    As you know if you’ve been following this space, Obamacare’s bevy of mandates, regulations, taxes, and fees drives up the cost of the insurance plans that are offered under the law’s public exchanges. A Manhattan Institute analysis I helped conduct found that, on average, the cheapest plan offered in a given state, under Obamacare, will be 99 percent more expensive for men, and 62 percent more expensive for women, than the cheapest plan offered under the old system. And those disparities are even wider for healthy people.

    That raises an obvious question. If 50 million people are uninsured today, mainly because insurance is too expensive, why is it better to make coverage even costlier?

    Political objectives trumped operational objectives

    The answer is that Obamacare wasn’t designed to help healthy people with average incomes get health insurance. It was designed to force those people to pay more for coverage, in order to subsidize insurance for people with incomes near the poverty line, and those with chronic or costly medical conditions.

    But the laws’ supporters and enforcers don’t want you to know that, because it would violate the President’s incessantly repeated promise that nothing would change for the people that Obamacare doesn’t directly help. If you shop for Obamacare-based coverage without knowing if you qualify for subsidies, you might be discouraged by the law’s steep costs.

    So, by analyzing your income first, if you qualify for heavy subsidies, the website can advertise those subsidies to you instead of just hitting you with Obamacare’s steep premiums. For example, the site could advertise plans that cost “$0″ or “$30″ instead of explaining that the plan really costs $200, and that you’re getting a subsidy of $200 or $170. But you’ll have to be at or near the poverty line to gain subsidies of that size; most people will either not qualify for a subsidy, or qualify for a small one that, net-net, doesn’t make up for the law’s cost hikes.

    This political objective—masking the true underlying cost of Obamacare’s insurance plans—far outweighed the operational objective of making the federal website work properly. Think about it the other way around. If the “Affordable Care Act” truly did make health insurance more affordable, there would be no need to hide these prices from the public.

    Subsidy verification created a traffic bottleneck

    Comparable private-sector e-commerce sites, like eHealthInsurance.com, allow you to shop for plans and compare prices simply by entering your age and your ZIP code. After you’ve selected a plan you like, you fill out an on-line application. That substantially winnows down the number of people who rely on the site for network-intensive tasks.

    The federal government’s decision to force people to apply before shopping, Weaver and Radnofsky write, “proved crucial because, before users can begin shopping for coverage, they must cross a busy digital junction in which data are swapped among separate computer systems built or run by contractors including CGI Group Inc., the healthcare.gov developer, Quality Software Services Inc., a UnitedHealth Group Inc. unit; and credit-checker Experian PLC. If any part of the web of systems fails to work properly, it could lead to a traffic jam blocking most users from the marketplace.”

    Jay Angoff, a former federal official at the agency that oversees the exchange, told the Journal that he was surprised by the decision. “People should be able to get quotes” without entering all of that information upfront.

    Weaver and Radnofsky say that the core problem stems from “the slate of registration systems [that] intersect with Oracle Identity Manager, a software component embedded in a government identity-checking system.” The main Healthcare.gov web page collects information using the CGI Group technology. Then that data is transferred to a system built by Quailty Software Services. QSS then sends data to Experian, the credit-history firm. But the key “identity management system” employed by QSS was designed by Oracle, and according to the Journal’s sources, the Oracle software isn’t playing nicely with the other information systems.

    Oracle hotly denies these claims. “Our software is the identical product deployed in most of the world’s most complex systems…our software is running properly,” said an Oracle spokeswoman in a statement.

    ‘It’s awful, just awful’

    Robert Pear and colleagues at the New York Times have a piece up today detailing the serious problems with the federal exchange, problems that may get worse, not better. They confirm what we already knew: that the Obama administration refused to delay the implementation of the exchanges, despite the well-known problems, because they were afraid of the political blowback. “Former government officials say the White House, which was calling the shots, feared that any backtracking would further embolden Republican critics who were trying to repeal the health care law.”

    As I documented last week, IT and insurance experts have been saying for at least eight months that implementation of the exchanges was going badly, that as early as February officials were warning of a “third world experience.” The Times’ sources are just as blunt. “These are not glitches,” said one insurance executive. “The extent of the problems is pretty enormous. At the end of our [conference calls with the administration], people say, ‘It’s awful, just awful.’”

    “We foresee a train wreck,” said another executive in a February interview with the Times. “We don’t have the IT specifications. The level of angst in health plans is growing by leaps and bounds. The political people in the administration do not understand how far behind they are.” Richard Foster, the former chief actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said last week that “so much testing of the new system was so far behind schedule, I was not confident it would work well.”

    Henry Chao, the deputy chief information officer at CMS who made the “third world experience” comment, was told by his superiors that failure to meet the October 1 launch deadline “was not an option,” according to the Times.

    White House knowingly chose to court disaster

    Think about it. It’s quite possible that much of this disaster could have been avoided if the Obama administration had been willing to be open with the public about the degree to which Obamacare escalates the cost of health insurance. If they had, then a number of the problems with the exchange’s software architecture would never have arisen. But that would require admitting that the “Affordable Care Act” was not accurately named.

    The White House knew that its people on the front lines, people like Henry Chao, were worried that the exchanges would get botched. They saw the Congressional Research Service memorandum detailing that the administration has missed half of the statutory deadlines assigned by the law. But they were more afraid of the P.R. disaster of disclosing Obamacare’s high premiums than they were of the P.R. disaster of crashing websites. What you see is the result.

  8. Jeff Beamsley says:

    You have chosen an arbitrary period of time AND an arbitrary form of measurement to support your claim that “more Republicans won seats than Democrats”. This was an effort to support your larger position that somehow the Republican brand was still viable. That arbitary period of time includes TWO national elections. One of which was an HISTORIC Republican victory and one of which was a narrow but very important Democratic victory. We already know that Obama got a majority of the votes in the 2012 election, but what you may not know is that Democrats also won the vote at the Congressional level. According to Politifact.com, “It was the second time in 70 years that a party won the majority of the vote but didn’t win a majority of the House seats, according to the analysis.” The ONLY reason that the House retained it’s majority was because of the gerrymandering that occurred in 2010.

    Looking at this in a larger historic context, 2010 is an aberration. Big Democratic wins in 2006 and 2008. Big Republican win in 2010. Narrow, but significant, Democratic win in 2012. 2010 was the year of the Tea Party. Republicans made a deal with the devil in order to win that election, and now are reaping what they sowed.

    As far as reporting by Avik Roy, this guy has been an ACA credit since day one. He jumps the tracks when he attributes political motivation to the fundamental design. Where the rest of the ACA critics jump the track is when they attempt to extrapolate the challenges that the website currently has, to the ultimate operation of the program once those seeking insurance have secured it.

    The government is ONLY running the marketplace and only for those states who declined to put up their own exchanges. It does not run the insurance program. Those are run by the same people who are providing insurance to 85% of the eligible population today primarily through employer programs. Once we get through this one-time sign-up bubble, the insurance program itself will run just fine. The programs critics know this and that’s what terrifies them.

    The bottom line on the website is that it does appear to be using enterprise quality components. It is also obvious that the site should have been better tested before it went live. So we will live with some instability until the interfaces between these components are improved. In the meantime, the state exchanges appear to be running fine. So the concept of running an online marketplace is NOT fundamentally flawed. What IS flawed is the conclusions that Avik Roy jumps to without ANY supporting evidence – “The answer is that Obamacare wasn’t designed to help healthy people with average incomes get health insurance. It was designed to force those people to pay more for coverage, in order to subsidize insurance for people with incomes near the poverty line, and those with chronic or costly medical conditions.” This is libertarian propaganda masquerading as news.

    What is also flawed is Forbes running this commentary as quasi news. It should have a big OPINION label, because it is not just reporting the facts. He clearly has an axe to grind, is part of the libertarian Manhattan Institute, and was a health care adviser to the Romney campaign. Sorry no sale.

  9. keith says:

    I didn´t choose an arbitrary time, you did. You continue to talk about the change that Obama has brought. (he very well may have I agree) However then fact is, MORE republicans have been sent to national office since Obamas ¨Change¨ occured. Again, I was simply responding to your premature call of the change. In fact from a national office perspective republicans are ahead. It´s a fact.

  10. keith says:

    Jeff,
    You are shooting in the dark

    YS)Looking at this in a larger historic context, 2010 is an aberration. Big Democratic wins in 2006 and 2008. Big Republican win in 2010. Narrow, but significant, Democratic win in 2012. 2010 was the year of the Tea Party. Republicans made a deal with the devil in order to win that election, and now are reaping what they sowed.

    MR) Wanna included 2000 & 2004? How about adding 1994, 1996 & 1998?

    The interesting note I can make is when a Dem wins the Pres ´92 & ´08 and clearly sets an agenda, massive losses follow i.e. ´94 &´98. Then when it comes time to oust the dem President the nation likes the guy and keeps him. I see nothing other then this over the past 20 years.

  11. keith says:

    YS)It is also obvious that the site should have been better tested before it went live. So we will live with some instability until the interfaces between these components are improved. In the meantime, the state exchanges appear to be running fine. So the concept of running an online marketplace is NOT fundamentally flawed.

    MR) is yes to the above comment but ask yourself why it´s a mess? BECAUSE THE GOVERNEMENT CANT DO MUCH EFFECTIVELY ON A GRAND SCALE!!!! This is proof once again.

    The best commentary I read is the purchasing protocal of the USA gov´t is such that very few would even bid on a job like this. No one wants to go through the hassle of all the forms and paper work and approvals one much aquire just to get to the bid process. SO what happens is a few companies HAVE the expertise in navigating the govt purchase process but many do not wish to. So the few who do, whether quailified as the best or not, get the work. A buch of Young sharp people can bid but the gov´t buyers go with the ¨proven¨guys becasue they will cover there own buts with ¨we went with those we knew and had done work with the gov´t before.

    Why didn´t they just go to Google, MSFT and Facebook and say, you guys do this, we need the best…

  12. keith says:

    and finally my 89 year old father just told me his primary doctor will no longer accept his insurence. He was told the ACA is the reason… I will not even begin to tell you I know ANYTHING about insurence and I am unable to explain what he said to me was the reason but the ACA was part of the message he was given. So he called the insurence compnay. He can still see his Doc but the cost he will bear will be much more and the insurence company much less…

  13. Jeff Beamsley says:

    I am going to declare a draw on this discussion because it isn’t going to go anywhere. You’ve found a particular way of counting that makes you feel good. I’ve got a way of counting that makes me feel good. The FINAL numbers won’t be counted until the 2014 election. I suspect that they will all fall in the Democrats direction as the dems regain control of both houses of congress. So let’s put this discussion on hold until the second week in November 2014. OK?

  14. Jeff Beamsley says:

    The government can’t do much effectively on a broad scale? Sorry you are just wrong. We seem to be able run our armed services pretty well. We collect taxes pretty well. We operate a fairly effective judiciary. SS and Medicare work pretty well. The Fed seems to work exceptionally well. With the prominent exception of Katrina, we do disaster relief pretty well too. You can pick away at all of those if you want, but there isn’t any private programs that even come close to the scale and efficiency with which the government carries out these tasks. You may also complain about the funding for some of these programs, but remember the funding is political. The OPERATION of these programs is the government, and they operate at some of the largest scales in the world and are effective.

    I’ve been in the hardware and software business since the very beginnings of the industry. I did my graduate work on some of the first Intel 8008’s that were in the wild in 1972 before there even was a microcomputer industry. I worked with Bill Gates and Paul Allen when Microsoft was still headquartered in New Mexico. I had code running in both OS/2 and Windows 95 and saw up close and personal two very different approaches to software development reflecting the cultures of those two companies. I’ve also sold lots of stuff to the government.

    So here’s my view. You can take it for what it’s worth.

    The government has a very complicated purchasing process because it IS huge and it has SO much money to spend and it HAS to be accountable to Congress for how it spends it. Everything has to be bid. Companies have to specialize in government contracting and prove that they can be successful at it in order to compete for these bids. These companies then run the projects. Big project like this one INTENTIONALLY get broken up in lots of smaller pieces because every elected official wants to have a piece.

    So the first problem is Brook’s Law which says that adding manpower to a late software project only makes it later. Or phrased in a different way, nine women can’t make a baby in one month. This project had over 50 contractors. BIG RED FLAG.

    The second problem is that the contracting for this project which also means final specs for this project was only completed six months ago. That could have been because it wasn’t clear what states were going to do, but I don’t know for sure. Six months is an impossible time frame for even Google and Facebook. BIG RED FLAG.

    So I agree with you that you can’t build software the same way that you build a tank. It is best done with small teams who have good specs and more importantly a clear vision for what they want to build. That’s how the healthcare marketplace prototype was built using open source components.

    But this is all water over the dam. This will get fixed. It will take time. It may require some extensions in the current deadlines, but it will get done. That’s because what they are doing is not rocket science. It’s simply a challenging integration problem that will require A LOT of bug fixing to finally discover all the fixbits that need attention. The SAME thing happened to the Medicare Part D program.

    So the final opinion from me, what should the government do in the future to avoid a repeat of these problems? The best solution, IMHO, is the same solution the Britain finally adopted. Do it all in house. Hire a software czar and centralize IT across the government. This will drive standards, increase efficiency, lower costs, and dramatically shorten delivery times. It is important enough that it should have a cabinet level secretary seat and that’s where our software luminaries can give a little back to the country. Having worked closely with Bill Gates, I know he could do it and there are lots of other people who could too. But as long as we contract out these big jobs following the current government purchasing process – they always will take longer and cost more. Not because the government is inefficient. It’s actually the opposite. The Government is step up pretty well to do things on a big scale. It’s Brooks Law. Software development just doesn’t scale in ways that our current government procurement process or even political system can easily understand.

  15. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Sorry to hear that but it also just doesn’t sound right. Isn’t your Dad covered by Medicare? If so the only insurance he is likely purchasing is some sort of supplemental program. Many of those Medicare Advantage programs are going away because Medicare benefits under ACA were expanded to cover things that Medicare Advantage used to cover. it was cheaper for the government to do that and continue to subsidize private companies to provide the same thing. It is possible that your dad’s physician may also be saying that he just isn’t going to take any more medicare patients because payments haven’t been adjusted. But physician payments were NOT part of the ACA. So if your dad’s physician has a beef about payments, it’s not because of the ACA. It’s because Republicans have balked at passing what has been called the “Medicare fix”. I would encourage you to get involved, because I’m not sure your Dad is getting all of the right information. I also hope he isn’t buying insurance that he really doesn’t need.

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