- GOP hopes taking shutdown off the table with budget deal will pay dividends
- Chinese Death Star: The moon cited as the perfect launch pad for ballistic missiles
- Help wanted: Homeland Security plagued by vacancies at the top
- We are not amused: Queen’s protection officers warned to keep ‘sticky fingers’ off the royal cashews
- Unleash the crossbows: Gov. Scott Walker creates new hunting season
- Bubonic plague kills 20 in Madagascar
- G-20 diplomats fell for hacker attack promising nude photos of former French first lady Carla Bruni
- Minnesota guardsman charged with stealing private soldier data for fake IDs
- Florida appeals court rules universities can’t regulate guns
- Vladimir Putin defends Russian conservative values
He’s no Truman: It seems the buck doesn’t stop at Obama’s Oval Office desk
In the Obama White House these days, the buck stops somewhere — anywhere — below the president.
White House aides insisted Wednesday that President Obama wasn’t told about major problems with the Obamacare website before its failed launch, adding to the growing list of blunders in which his advisers allegedly have kept him in the dark.
As the president summoned a dozen top health insurance executives to the White House for a meeting on salvaging his signature initiative, administration officials said nobody in Mr. Obama’s inner circle had any inkling of how bad the federal website for HealthCare.gov would be until it went live Oct. 1.
Yet project developers for the health care website have said they raised doubts whether it could be ready in time. Congressional investigators have concluded that the government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services tested the exchange’s computer systems during the final weeks, a task usually handled by software companies to make sure it’s ready for consumers.
Critics see a familiar pattern in the president’s “plausible deniability” of the website’s problems, along with the Internal Revenue Service’s suspected targeting of conservative groups, the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal in the Justice Department, and the unanswered questions about his handling of the lethal terrorist attack at the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, in September 2012. Whatever the scandal, the administration’s explanation is that Mr. Obama was out of the loop, deliberately or otherwise.
Skeptics also said the idea that Mr. Obama failed to keep tabs on the rollout of what is considered his signature legislative achievement also is implausible.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has said Mr. Obama became aware “in the first couple of days” after the website launch that there were serious problems with its operation. She said they discussed testing the system “going forward,” but not before Oct. 1.
Mrs. Sebelius said that, even though insurance companies complained about the website and it crashed during a test, nobody told Mr. Obama about the problems.
Administration officials have refused to say how many people have managed to enroll for insurance during the three weeks since the marketplaces became available. Mr. Carney said Wednesday that the number is “in the thousands.” The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 7 million people would gain coverage during the exchanges’ first year.
The assertion by top administration aides that Mr. Obama was shielded from bad news about the Obamacare website is reminiscent of the IRS scandal that erupted this spring.
When White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler heard April 24 about an upcoming inspector general’s report on the Internal Revenue Service’s improper targeting of conservative groups, she and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and other senior White House aides agreed not to share it with Mr. Obama until the audit was completed and made public. They said they acted to protect the president from any appearance of trying to influence the investigation.
When word spread at the highest levels of government about CIA Director David H. Petraeus having an extramarital affair, top-level Justice Department officials, including Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., learned of the scandal — with the potential for blackmail of the nation’s top spy — in midsummer of 2012. But Mr. Obama wasn’t told about it until Nov. 8, two days after his re-election.
The Republican National Committee sent out a missive Wednesday saying Mr. Obama also claimed not to know about the Justice Department’s subpoenaing of news organizations and the Solyndra solar-energy debacle, asking, “Does he have a staff problem or are they covering for him?”
Even though officials knew about the website’s problems and the crashing in tests, Mr. Obama delivered an emphatic speech about the program’s launch Oct. 1 in the White House Rose Garden, coincidentally the first day of the government shutdown prompted in large part by Republican opposition to Obamacare.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Dave Boyer is a White House correspondent for The Washington Times. A native of Allentown, Pa., Boyer worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer from 2002 to 2011 and also has covered Congress for the Times. He is a graduate of Penn State University. Boyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- White House faces press revolt over access to Obama's South Africa flight
- U.S., Britain to halt non-lethal aid to Syrian opposition
- New Obama adviser John Podesta is against Keystone but will steer clear of pipeline deliberations
- White House blasts GOP for criticism of Castro handshake
- U.S. suspends aid to northern Syrian rebels after al Qaeda seizes supplies
Latest Blog Entries
- White House downplays concerns over phony sign-language interpreter
- Joe Biden signs condolence book for Nelson Mandela at D.C. embassy
- Biden to Japanese businesswomen: 'Do your husbands like you working full-time?'
- Son, granddaughter join Biden on weeklong diplomatic trip to Asia
- Obamas visit fasting immigration activists
By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
- Obama's Afghanistan experts stumped on U.S. death toll, war costs during hearing
- NAPOLITANO: A conspiracy so vast
- House pushes through two-year Ryan-Murray budget deal
- Comma on!: Twitter erupts over Obama-Castro 'marriage'
- Biden guarantees victory on immigration reform
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- CARSON: Why did the founders give us the Second Amendment?
- VEGAS RULES: Harry Reid pushed feds to change ruling for casino's big-money foreigners
- All-out war breaks out in GOP over budget pact
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Chef Mary Moran discusses the food we eat, where it comes from and what it does for us.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow