More than two weeks into the heralded launch of the Affordable Care Act, the roll out of the Healthcare.gov website still qualifies as an ongoing fiasco. The Obama administration was fortunate that this was largely, though not completely, overshadowed by the silly, misconcieved and mishandled government shut-down protest by Congressional Republicans, thanks in part to a pliant and biased newsmedia that welcomed the opportunity not to focus proper attention on yet another inexcusable Administration botch. Nonetheless, it is inexcusable. A business that launched a much-ballyhooed new product this way would be out of business; the executive in charge of such a miserable failure would be toast. The fact that Obamacare is still in business after this competence and diligence betrayal speaks only to the benefits of a governmental monopoly. The fact that no executive is yet toast, however, is less explicable. Perhaps the more accurate statement is that the explanation for it is horrifying.
Two weeks of intensive round-the-clock efforts at repairs have yet to render the Obamacare enrollment website acceptably operable and user-friendly. For it’s part, HHS won’t predict long it will take to fix it or rebuild it, which makes sense, since nobody should believe anything HHS says about the program at this point. Politico reports that the ACA’s advocates, lobbyists and industry officials are talking a months-long repair effort, and that could be a disaster. “The website that was supposed to do this all in a seamless way has had way more glitches than I think are acceptable,” the President admitted during a Tuesday interview with KCCI television in Des Moines, Iowa. That’s nice of him, and a rare spin-free acknowledgment of reality, but what is needed is a demonstration that incompetence and failure in the executive branch has consequences, and the signature feature of the Obama years is that there are none. Accountability doesn’t exist. The President doesn’t believe in it, and apparently the American public, again bolstered by a lapdog media, doesn’t comprehend the reason it is essential. That’s the horror, and it is far more disturbing than the failure of the Obamacare site itself.
Presumably, the website and the enrollment system will work eventually. But a government to which the public casually and recklessly cedes more and more of its control over its welfare will become progressively more inefficient, incompetent, expensive, wasteful, foolish, abusive and arrogant and attract leaders and employees who are so inclined if there is not swift and effective accountability for not meeting goals, not keeping promises, not making deadlines, and perpetually blaming external factors and others for poor performance.
This is not a partisan complaint. This is Management Ethics 101, Leadership For Tyros, and Success . We have only one national government, and the culture being built from the top from the very first day has been that nobody will ever be held accountable for the failures and fiascos that occur under their oversight, and that no executive will ever be expected to accept responsibility and what naturally follows from responsibility. No high official has been fired as a result of the I.R.S.’s partisan and illegal activities that have been thoroughly detailed (but barely reported) in the ongoing House hearings. There were no consequences at the State Department as a result of the Benghazi fiasco—other than the Libyan ambassador, that is, who paid with his life. The TSA’s performance has been an ongoing embarrassment, with no high level accountability. Eric Holder has been responsible for multiple fiascos—Fast and Furious, the AP surveillance, the stuttering plans to prosecute terrorists in civil trials, and more—any one of which would have cost previous Attorney Generals their jobs, though most would have had the dignity and self-respect to resign before being sacked. Press Secretary Jay Carney has been dishonest and incompetent in a job that mandates trust, yet he is still in his post. Now the appointee avoiding accountability is Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who has told the House committee investigating the Healthcare.gov website mess as it should, that she will not testify. Of course not. Testifying is part of accountability, and this Administration’s preferred course is to duck, spin, deny and reject it. That is how President Obama has handled his own accountability issues as well.
Fish. Rots. Head. Down.
And, astoundingly and ominously, the media and the public allow, accept, and therefore encourage this.
The Affordable Care Act could be the most brilliant, well-conceived, well-planned and perfectly drafted law in the history of mankind, but if it is entrusted to an inherently untrustworthy government that does not value, accept and execute accountability, it will fail.