It Takes a Lot for Joe Klein to Criticize Barack Obama …

But through his administration’s mismanagement in setting up health insurance exchanges, the president has managed to tick Klein off:

Let me try to understand this: the key incentive for small businesses to support Obamacare was that they would be able to shop for the best deals in health care superstores — called exchanges. The Administration has had three years to set up these exchanges. It has failed to do so.

This is a really bad sign. There will be those who argue that it’s not the Administration’s fault. It’s the fault of the 33 states that have refused to set up their own exchanges. Nonsense. Where was the contingency planning? There certainly are models, after all — the federal government’s own health-benefits plan (FEHBP) operates markets that exist in all 50 states. So does Medicare Advantage. But now, the Obama Administration has announced that it won’t have the exchanges ready in time, that small businesses will be offered one choice for the time being — for a year, at least. No doubt, small-business owners will be skeptical of the Obama Administration’s belief in the efficacy of the market system to produce lower prices through competition. That was supposed to be the point of this plan.

Don’t get me wrong; Klein manages to find some ways to blame Republicans for the problem, but he can’t avoid placing the bulk of the blame on the Administration. I’m sure that he tried his best not to, but amazingly enough, journalistic integrity won out.

And just yesterday, Klein was forced to follow up:

Steve Brill, who wrote TIME’s Bitter Pill cover story last month, has a follow-up in his Reuters column about Obamacare’s inability to implement the rules it has set in place against the depredation of so-called “non-profit” hospitals. 

I am really growing concerned about the sloppiness of this Administration. Bill Clinton, by contrast, was a governor. He cared about the “how” of government—how the Arkansas Department of Motor Vehicles dealt with its customers, for example. He brought that concern to Washington and made “reinventing government” a major initiative in his Administration. His reform efforts were hamstrung by the recalcitrance of the public employees unions, but he understood what was at stake: “Our biggest job is to move government from the Industrial Age to the Information Age,” he told me five years before he became President. If government didn’t work well, the public constituency for new and necessary programs like universal health care would evaporate.

Barack Obama is not a “how” President. Oh, he pays lip service to government reform. His people can tell you the number of unnecessary regulations they’ve eliminated. It barely scratches the surface of what needs to be done—there is no creative destruction in government, regulations pile up on top of each other like silt, generation after generation. And while the Democrats are feeling pretty smug these days, given the overwhelming silliness of the Republicans, the President may be paving the way for a conservative revival—if Obamacare turns out to be as nasty a mess as, say, the Veterans Administration.

Again, there is an attempt to take a shot at Republicans, but try as he might, Klein can’t avoid the conclusion that the Obama administration is not up to the job when it comes to implementing Obamacare.

Gosh, if only we were able to take these implementation problems into account before we passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Perhaps we might have been able to take some of it into account if we actually read the bill before passing it.

Instead, of course, we listened to Nancy Pelosi:

  1. BrentB67

    The Op Ed about Klein’s comments in the WSJ is a very good read. Especially Klein’s pleading for lack of a better term for republicans to get on board and help manage the welfare state better. I thought the WSJ did a nice job subtly taking republicans to task for abandoning the mantra that government is the problem.

    The comment about republican silliness is appropriate. The Obamacare debacle bubbling to the surface is a golden gift to republicans, but they refuse to take the ribbon off.

  2. J Climacus

    Obama is bored by governing, which is actual work – something only the vulgar must put up with. He had one real insight early on, which is that white people are desperate to alleviate their historical guilt and are willing to accept, on almost any terms, someone who promises to assuage that guilt. He leveraged that insight  all the way to the White House. Well, Obama’s terms are that he gets to be worshipped, live a royal lifestyle, and needn’t really apply himself to the job.  In fact, he has no idea how to manage or organize anything even if he had a mind to.

    Leftists are just beginning to discover the downside to the devil’s bargain they made. Hope it was worth it.

  3. BrentB67
    J Climacus: … He had one real insight early on, which is that white people are desperate to alleviate their historical guilt and are willing to accept, on almost any terms, someone who promises to assuage that guilt. He leveraged that insight  all the way to the White House. …

    I don’t think this gets talked about near enough. Great comment.

  4. Pilli

    “It barely scratches the surface of what needs to be done—there is no creative destruction in government, regulations pile up on top of each other like silt, generation after generation.”

    What a great analogy.  Silt piling up for generations leading to fossilization.  Exactly what we see now.  And another argument for term limits.  Get rid of the fossils. (Looking at you McCain, Schumer, et. al.)

  5. Nick Stuart

    My belief:  the point was never to “reform” healthcare or accomplish any of the stated objectives of relieving the plight of the uninsured, lowering costs, etc., etc., It didn’t matter what was in the bill.

    The objective was to create such a huge, stinking, steaming mess that the cry for single payer socialized medicine like Canada or England would be irresistable. 

    We’re in for decades of churning, patchwork fixes, special carveouts and payoffs to people with connections.

    And the debate will be over who can best manage the mess, while what should be done is throw it out and start over.

  6. SEnkey

    Nick Stuart, I couldn’t agree more. 

    However, until Republicans -or anyone for that matter, comes up with concrete and explainable ideas for what to replace it with there is no hope for reform or repeal. I know the abstract arguments we make are true, free markets and deregulation would go along way in lowering costs and providing more coverage. So would tort reform for that matter. But those arguments don’t hold water with most people. 

    Meanwhile the other side is promising more coverage, lower costs, and the thrill of punishing the wealthy by making them pay for it. It doesn’t matter that they can’t deliver those things, the brain poor populace is already hooked on those promises and blames conservative obstructionists, not Obama, for a failure to deliver. 

  7. BrentB67
    Stuart Enkey: Nick Stuart, I couldn’t agree more. 

    However, until Republicans -or anyone for that matter, comes up with concrete and explainable ideas for what to replace it with there is no hope for reform or repeal. I know the abstract arguments we make are true, free markets and deregulation would go along way in lowering costs and providing more coverage. So would tort reform for that matter. But those arguments don’t hold water with most people. 

    This is important. It is easy to say just repeal Obamacare, but that doesn’t address the fact that our healthcare market place was out of control before Obamacare.

    It takes real leadership to make the free market arguments and that is sorely lacking in the republican party. It isn’t enough to just say ‘not Obama and repeal the stuff he signed…..’.

  8. Sweet and Low

    What I found amazing is Klein’s insistence that it’s the job of the Republicans to somehow make the Democrat’s pipe dreams work.  Apparently, Joe views the Republicans as the hard working Girl Fridays who manage to make their bosses visions a reality.  Mind you the Worker Ants won’t be allowed to do what needs to be done – they won’t be able to break unions, or fire incompetent workers.  No, they just get the blame when things go wrong.  

  9. Redneck Desi
    Stuart Enkey: Nick Stuart, I couldn’t agree more. 

    However, until Republicans -or anyone for that matter, comes up with concrete and explainable ideas for what to replace it with there is no hope for reform or repeal. I know the abstract arguments we make are true, free markets and deregulation would go along way in lowering costs and providing more coverage. So would tort reform for that matter. But those arguments don’t hold water with most people. 

    Meanwhile the other side is promising more coverage, lower costs, and the thrill of punishing the wealthy by making them pay for it. It doesn’t matter that they can’t deliver those things, the brain poor populace is already hooked on those promises and blames conservative obstructionists, not Obama, for a failure to deliver.  · 2 hours ago

    Absolutely this is the challenge. The long game for the Democrats is single-payer which will be easy to explain to Americans. Our side needs simple, easy to explain market solutions in healthcare. 

  10. Pejman Yousefzadeh
    C

    Klein continues to believe in the Obamaian vision. He just thinks that the implementer is wanting and doesn’t yet realize that the vision is what he ought to be worried about.

    Sweet and Low: What I found amazing is Klein’s insistence that it’s the job of the Republicans to somehow make the Democrat’s pipe dreams work.  Apparently, Joe views the Republicans as the hard working Girl Fridays who manage to make their bosses visions a reality.  Mind you the Worker Ants won’t be allowed to do what needs to be done – they won’t be able to break unions, or fire incompetent workers.  No, they just get the blame when things go wrong.   · April 5, 2013 at 8:56pm

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