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: