Dec 022013

The Times ran a great piece over the weekend that pulled back the curtain on the unfolding disaster that was the website. It details the bureaucratic bungling and poor oversight that led to the disastrous rollout of the site. The website’s performance seems to have improved as a result of the administration’s intensive repair effort, but problems could still crop up on the backend components that are responsible for transmitting enrolling information to insurers and for processing subsidy payments to insurers.

As President Obama has already admitted, he and his appointees badly mishandled this crucial task. Presidents shouldn’t be micromanagers, but Obama’s hands-off approach and the general insularity of this administration only served to undermine his credibility when it counted most. The politics of this clusterfuck are transitory; what really matters is whether the underlying policy succeeds. I still think success is likely, but I worry about our collective willingness to take bold action on other issues like climate change and income inequality. Government must constantly demonstrate its effectiveness and relevance to people’s lives. Unforced errors like this only give fodder to those who would be too happy to live under a government that stands an army, paves the roads, and not much else.

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