What did the President know about ObamaCare, and when did he know it? The New York Times raised that question yesterday, offering a video montage of pre-rollout claims about the Healthcare.gov exchange from White House officials, including Barack Obama himself at the Clinton Global Initiative one week before the launch. However, behind those rosy predictions were big red flags being raised — and now the question is whether the White House didn’t see them, didn’t want to see them, or purposely ignored them:[youtube]http://youtu.be/UAK9wk1puy4[/youtube]
That kind of enthusiasm wasn’t just for public consumption, reports Michael Shear and Sheryl Gay Stolberg. The same kind of cheerleading went into briefings on Capitol Hill among lawmakers and staffers. The expectation was that initial consumer enthusiasm would create “a few bumps,” but that the website was solid and Healthcare.gov was ready for launch.
But is that what the Obama administration really believed? Contractors working on the system told Congress that they repeatedly warned senior administration officials that the system had serious problems — and some of those people wanted to delay the rollout:
The executives testified that “end to end” testing of the Web site did not take place until two weeks before the site made its debut — about the same time that the briefings by Mr. Simas and Mr. McDonough were taking place. And they said problems with the software that powers the Web site were communicated to senior officials in the president’s administration. …
According to some accounts, the project’s managers at the Department of Health and Human Services assured the White House that any remaining problems could be worked out once the Web site went live, but other senior department officials predicted serious trouble and advised delaying the rollout.
The tech sector already knew this would be a huge failure, even according to one of Obama’s Presidential Innovation Fellows — a man who set up Obama’s 2008 online campaign systems:
But among technology experts, the federal government’s poor performance in developing Web sites was an open secret.
Clay Johnson, a founder of Blue State Digital, the company that ultimately developed Mr. Obama’s 2008 campaign Web site, turned down a chance to work on HealthCare.gov last year, when he spent six months as a Presidential Innovation Fellow.
“It was a project I wanted to steer clear of,” he said.
Why didn’t the administration listen? Politics, according to Harry Reid’s former chief of staff Jim Manley: