Soon after President Obama told the White House press corps he was solely responsible for the botched Obamacare rollout, he decided to shift part of the blame onto Republicans.
A mea culpa can be hard to deliver in public when you are the kind of politician who thinks he never makes mistakes and rarely if ever apologizes for anything that went wrong. Mr. Obama’s apologies have a brief shelf life, and so a few days later, they had reached their expiration date.
At a gathering of business executives on Nov. 19, the president concluded that he had done enough groveling over his utterly false claim that “if you like your health insurance policy, you can keep it” and went on the political attack.
Somehow, he decided the Republicans in Congress were partly to blame for the bungled mess that he and his administration had created and that it wasn’t all his fault. He also said the broken, online, sign-up system was in the process of being fixed and would be up and running at full throttle by the end of November. That doesn’t seem to be the case entirely.
Then he turned on the Republicans with a vengeance. He suggested that their intransigent political opposition had inhibited the law’s implementation. “One of the problems we’ve had is one side of Capitol Hill is invested in its failure,” he told the chief financial officers at The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council meeting in Washington last week.
He also suggested the Republicans’ “ideological resistance to the idea of dealing with the uninsured and people with pre-existing conditions” was also a factor in what went wrong.
Republicans had their own ideas about how to provide wider access to lower-cost health care, but it was not the costly, government-run, top-down bureaucracy Mr. Obama wanted and got from the Democrats.
The larger organizational problems that presumably led to the mess the government is still trying to fix stemmed from the political bickering in Washington that threatened to damage his presidency’s signature achievement, he further suggested.
Both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue needed to “break through the stubborn cycle of crisis politics and start working together,” he said.
I did a little checking with constitutional scholars, and no one can find any provision in the Constitution that gives lawmakers any role in helping the executive branch implement laws passed by Congress.
Mr. Obama has made bombastic claims over the course of his presidency that have not proven true. However, to blame Republicans, who control only one-half of Congress, for any part this debacle is a huge reach.
He also blamed the government’s information-technology system, saying it’s “not very efficient.” Whose fault is that? He’s the chief executive who is in charge of seeing that the laws are carried out in a fair and efficient way, and of ensuring that they work and meet all deadlines.
Judging from the mountain of government audits that have exposed waste, inefficiencies and other skullduggery in his administration, he’s not the least bit interested in the details and process of running anything — least of all his health care mess.
His promise that Obamacare’s online computer system would be ready for business by Nov. 30 came immediately after an administration official who oversees the technical side of the federal health insurance marketplace told Congress that 30 percent to 40 percent of the overall system was unfinished.
Henry Chao, deputy chief information officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said major parts of Mr. Obama’s program, including its accounting and payments to insurance companies, were still incomplete.