Obamacare went into effect yesterday despite widespread evidence it was not ready to launch, even three years
after the law was passed.
The implementation problems are not small. The “exchanges,” websites where Americans who don’t have
insurance (or whose employers have dropped their coverage) must buy new policies, had major technical
breakdowns in 47 states yesterday.
In Connecticut, 10,000 people visited the exchange website but only 22 people actually enrolled. One MSNBC
reporter attempted for 35 minutes to sign up for coverage before giving up after getting error messages repeatedly.
The faulty exchanges are the least of the mishaps with Obamacare, however. The White House delayed the employer
mandate because even three years after the law passed, the administration could not work out how to implement it.
The administration also announced it would not be able to verify individuals’ eligibility for subsidies, opting
to hand out taxpayer money on the honor system until at least 2015 rather than delay the law.
President Obama tried to explain away these disasters yesterday as “glitches,” glibly comparing them to bugs
in Apple’s new iPhone software. “Like every new law, every new product rollout,” he said, “there are going to
be some glitches in the sign-up process along the way that we will fix…Consider that just a couple of weeks ago,
Apple rolled out a new mobile operating system, and within days, they found a glitch, so they fixed it…I don’t
remember anybody suggesting Apple should stop selling iPhones or iPads or threatening to shut down the
company if they didn’t.”
Americans’ health coverage, of course, is not so trivial as the new coat of paint on the iPhone software.
(And unlike their health coverage under Obamacare, people can keep the old software version if they want to.)
Clearly, Apple would never ship a product that was seriously malfunctioning the way Obamacare is. The responsible
thing for the administration to do would be to delay it.
Such a concession looks unlikely, and instead the Democrats have shut down the government to force this lemon law
The Obama administration, figuring that Republicans will be blamed for any inconveniences, has taken steps to
maximize the pain of the shutdown for civilians. Because every essential function of government has remained
open, that means putting the National Park Service on the front lines of the charade.
On the George Washington Memorial Parkway in Virginia, the Park Service closed tour bus turnarounds and scenic
pull-offs on the shoulder of the road–but not the road itself, which they also police.
Tour bus turnarounds require no short-term maintenance and there is no reason for the Park Service to close them
other than to cause pain to the public. This petty action also made it more difficult for tourist busses to visit Mount
Vernon, a private institution, without any conceivable justification.
Even more absurd, the administration has barricaded most of the monuments in Washington. The appalling scene
playing out at the World War II Memorial gives you some idea of the thinking that is driving this unnecessary pain.
There, the Park Service has erected barricades to prevent veterans of the Second World War from visiting the
monument in their honor.
For the last two days, the veterans moved the gates and entered the memorial anyway. But the Park Service told a
group of veterans planning an “Honor Flight” next week that anyone who goes beyond the barricades will be arrested.
According to the trip’s organizer, when ranger advised him of this possibility, he said, “‘Are you kidding me? You’re
going to arrest a 90/91-year-old veteran from seeing his memorial? If it wasn’t for them it wouldn’t be there.’ She said,
‘That’s correct sir.'” Apparently the Park Service plans to crack down aftertoday’s breach of the barricades.
The political motivation behind this abuse of our veterans is obvious. Officials from the Park Service are not normally
required to be present when Americans visit the memorial. In fact, it is supposed to be open to the public 24 hours a
day, with rangers on-site only for a portion of that time.
Moreover, the memorial was constructed with money raised from private donations, and it operates, according to its website,
largely based on a trust fund which pays for its maintenance. There is no reason for it to close.
So why did it? According to a spokesperson for the Park Service, the order to barricade the memorial came from the
Office of Management and Budget (OMB), an office of the White House.
An American president ordering veterans expelled from federal property is sadly reminiscent of Herbert Hoover’s
eviction in 1932 of the Bonus Army, comprised of World War I vets demanding cash bonuses they had been promised.
When Republicans meet with President Obama tonight they should demand that he immediately reopen every federal
facility that does not require staff to be present, starting with the World War II Memorial as a sign of good faith.