The Obama administration this week rolled out its revamped Obamacare website, and right away, traffic picked up — the site was able to handle a whopping 50,000 at the same time (about .00000000001 percent of what Amazon or Google can handle during this holiday season, but not bad for government work).
The president has high hopes for the new site. His plan calls for 700,000 enrollees a month, and already, he’s signed up — wait, 125,000? In two months?!
That’s right. In October, the launch month, about 25,000 signed up. Last month, just 100,000 signed up. The goal for that period: 800,000. So far, so good: 15.6 percent success rate.
But by March 31, millions and millions of uninsured Americans are supposed to be on board the federal government’s $1.6 trillion entitlement. And millions will want their coverage to start Jan. 1, which means they must be signed up by Dec. 23 — less than three weeks from now. The sign-ups, so the administration thinks, will expand exponentially. Unless they don’t.
Obamacare head honcho Kathleen Sebelius this week advised potential enrollees to stay away from the site during peak hours, you know, like when people are awake. Try 3 a.m., maybe. Better, she said, is to try an alternate method to sign up for coverage, like the “federal hotline” (whatever that is), in person with a “navigator” (whatever that is), or using a good ol’ paper application.
But if enrollees insist on using the website, at least there’s a new feature called the “queuing function.”
“Can’t wait?” the site says after telling enrollees they can’t get log in. “Leave your email with us, and we’ll send you a one-time message when healthcare.gov is ready for you to return.”
But just as White House spokesman Jay “Circus” Carney was boasting about the new function at the White House briefing, even that crashed: “Sorry, there was an error, please reload and try again later.”
Still, the Health and Human Services secretary wanted to say one thing to everyone on Day One of Obamacare 2.0: “Please do not give up,” Mrs. Sebelius begged.
Despite all the woes, the mainstream media Monday toed the line for the Obama administration, again. Reports flowed saying the Obamacare website was successfully revamped and was up and running (of course, not one of the networks or cable newsers went live, showing someone trying to actually access the site).
By Tuesday, a compliant reporter asked the White House flack if the debacle had been turned into “mission accomplished.”
“Using that phrase is not one I would employ,” he said dryly.
Meanwhile, Gallup put out a slew of polls that showed just how dismal the vaunted rollout had become. Just 9 percent said the new law has helped them; just 40 percent approve; and 1 in 4 of those uninsured said they’ll pay the fine and not sign up after all. What’s more, the pollster found that the more people know about Obamacare, the less they like it.
And then, right on schedule, out came an angry President Obama in a campaign-style showboat event at the White House, flanked by a few dozen people (possibly everyone in the country currently signed up to Obamacare) and enthusiastic staffers. “The bottom line is this law is working and will work into the future,” he said.
“We’re not repealing it as long as I’m president, and I want everybody to be clear about that,” he said to tumultuous applause. “We’re not going to walk away from it. If I’ve got to fight another three years to make sure this law works, then that’s what I’ll do. That’s what we’ll do,” he said to a standing ovation.
And that may have been the plan all along. As David Plouffe, one of his top advisers, said this week: “It may take until 2017, when this president leaves office,” before things “work really well.”
Funny, the president never mentioned that during his re-election campaign.
• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times and is now editor of the Drudge Report. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @josephcurl.