- The Washington Times - Monday, October 7, 2013

So how many people actually have signed up for health coverage under the Affordable Care Act? Uh-h-h-h, no one seems to know. In the past week, President Obama and officials within his administration avoided answering the trillion-dollar question by either claiming the numbers weren’t available yet or that they had no access to the data.

“Well, I don’t have the numbers yet,” Mr. Obama told The Associated Press while White House press secretary Jay Carney echoed, “We don’t have that data” in a daily briefing.

“Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace speculated that the smoke screens had gone up because those numbers were “embarrassingly small.”

The “Obama administration obfuscation on the question of enrollment data” has gone on for a week, says Americans for Tax Reform, which has been tracking the trend.

“Americans already know that they have a hard time putting information into the Obamacare enrollment system. Turns out they can’t get any information out of the system either,” says Grover Norquist, president of the organization. “The system is broken on both ends. Even a company going bankrupt knows how many widgets it sold. Maybe it’s a small amount. But it’s a known number.”

HAVE A SEAT IN THE WAITING ROOM

Wait, no one’s been to the health care provider yet — but there’s already a waiting room? Indeed.

The aforementioned Mr. Carney advises that the big, crowded, moody Obamacare sign-up site has a new feature. The Department of Health and Human Services computer gurus have “put up a gate at the front end of the system that places visitors into a waiting room, and lets them in at a particular pace,” the spokesman noted at the daily press gaggle Monday.

THE TEA PARTY’S BIG QUESTION

So is the tea party just a bunch of has-beens, or powerful enough to cause the federal shutdown? The tea party itself wants to know, now that its critics conveniently blame them for all the woes of Washington, and possibly the known universe.

“The media, the ruling elite, the Senate, and President Obama are doing all they can to blame this mess on us, but all we wanted was them to think twice about forcing a law that isn’t ready on the American people,” say organizers at the Tea Party Patriots, the nation’s largest umbrella group for the movement.

“All we wanted was the American people to be treated equally under the law as the ones who forced this on us. And now all they can say is that we are anarchists, arsonists, holding the economy hostage, holding a gun to the heads of the American people,” the Patriots say in a declaration issued Monday.

“It’s time for this nonsense to stop. The president a few years ago called for a new age of civility,” they continue, noting that a year ago, the tea party had been dismissed as inconsequential.

“Today, we are so powerful that according to the president and the Democrats in Washington, we have shut down the federal government. Which one is it?” they ask.

IMPASSE THEATER

Yes, there’s a partisan impasse in the government shutdown that is entrenched, stubborn and unwieldy. And now we have numbers. A Pew Research Center poll released Monday finds that 44 percent of Americans say Republicans should give in and agree with President Obama, and end the shutdown. Three-fourths of Democrats, 14 percent of Republicans and 7 percent of tea partyers agree with this.

On the other hand, 42 percent think Mr. Obama should give in and agree with the Grand Old Party. Seventy-seven percent of Republicans, 88 percent of tea partyers and 18 percent of Democrats agree.

Like we said, entrenched, stubborn and unwieldy. More numbers in today’s Poll du Jour at column’s end.

SEMINAR OF THE DAY

“The Real War; We’re in a World War but Nobody (On Our Side) Will Admit It.”

— The name of a talk by Michael Ledeen, freedom scholar with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, before the Steamboat Institute last Tuesday evening. The Colorado-based nonprofit educates the public on America’s founding principles.

“There’s a global war, we’re the main target of the aggressors, and our leaders don’t see it and therefore have no idea how to win it,” Mr. Ledeen observes.

HOLA REPUBLICANOS

Now is the time to assemble boots on the ground and a solid playbook: 2014 dawns in exactly 12 weeks. That in mind, the Republican National Committee announced “a new Hispanic engagement team” now active in seven states — California, Florida, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.

Their mission is to build grass-roots infrastructure, engage voters at community events and strengthen ties among Hispanic Republicans. The outreach will expand to 11 other states by year’s end, and has been deemed “early and unprecedented” by none other than Chairman Reince Priebus.

“This off-cycle effort will ensure our message of ‘opportunity for all’ reaches voters. We are building a ground game that will allow us to compete for every voter and will outlast any one cycle or campaign,” he adds.

HOUSING THE HEROES

A rousing hurrah for the Pentagon Federal Credit Union Foundation, which hosts a ribbon-cutting Tuesday at the Defenders Lodge, a new hotel that annually will offer free lodging for 20,000 veterans and caregivers undergoing treatment at the nearby VA Hospital in Palo Alto, Calif.

The cheerful, classy 34,500-square-foot inn is accessible and offers free Wi-Fi, a cozy family room with fireplace, fancy kitchen, activity room, laundry room, open-air atrium and a spiffy library. It’s a $17 million effort; the foundation volunteered as the primary sponsor in a partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs. The private donations include $2.5 million from businessman, Army vet and philanthropist Lee Anderson and his wife, Penny.

“For many of our nation’s veterans, a good night’s rest sometimes meant just getting a few hours of uninterrupted sleep on an uncomfortable cot. Now that they’re back home, they deserve the best accommodations we can give them,” says Robert Siegert, the foundation’s chairman.

The haven opens for vets in January.

POLL DU JOUR

35 percent of Americans say Republican leaders are paying “too much attention” to the tea party; 18 percent of Republicans, 6 percent of tea party supporters and 58 percent of Democrats agree.

26 percent overall say Republicans are paying “too little” attention to the tea party; 24 percent of Republicans, 40 percent of tea partyers and 25 percent of Democrats agree.

19 percent overall say the GOP is paying the “right amount” of attention to the tea party; 40 percent of Republicans, 41 percent of tea partyers and 7 percent of Democrats agree.

28 percent overall say the shutdown has inconvenienced them personally; 32 percent of Republicans, 28 percent of tea partyers and 28 percent of Democrats agree.

13 percent of Americans overall have contacted officials or signed a petition about the shutdown; 15 percent of Republicans, 24 percent of tea partyers and 13 percent of Democrats have done the same.

Source: A Pew Research Center poll of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted Oct. 3 to 6.

Caterwaul and doggerel to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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