This is slipstick written to order. Just as Medicare chief Marilyn Tavenner was boasting to a Senate committee on Monday that the beleaguered Obamacare website could process nearly 17,000 registrants per hour, or 5 per second, with “almost no errors,” the site made a fool out of her. Almost on cue, the New York Post writes, it crashed and remained down for 90 minutes as the hearings continued.
Welcome to Barack Obama’s world of late — and conservatives’ world of the last 5 years. It is by degrees becoming liberals’ world, too, with voices in the mainstream media crying foul and Democrats in Congress picking up the chant.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), a diehard liberal and usually staunch supporter of Obama, said:
There has been a crisis of confidence created in the dysfunctional nature of the website, cancellation of policies and sticker shock for some people.
It was at this point that Tavenner, the latest administration shlamazel* to answer to a suddenly vengeful Congress, insisted that HealthCare.gov was improving by day. “I would encourage folks, if they have not gone onto the website in the last few days,” she said, “to go onto the website.” Seconds later, everything went dark.
During her testimony, Taverner conceded that the administration hadn’t done due diligence in making sure the site was secure before it launched, stating untruthfully, “We couldn’t test live until we went live.” A number of tech experts have maintained that the White House could — and should — have delayed the launch until it could say with certainty that users’ personal data, without which the site won’t process an application, was safe. As things stand, the federal government is facing a growing number of lawsuits from citizens whose personal information was made public via the health care website.
But Obamacare, as the administration has repeated lately, is more than just a website. Accordingly, Tavenner was grilled on whether she would support a Republican bill designed to force Obama to keep his promise that “if you like your health plan, you can keep it” under the health care law. When pressed for a reaction by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), she said she hadn’t read the bill and was unprepared to comment.
She did repeat the demonstrably false party line that Americans who do lose coverage will be able to sign up for better plans thanks to ObamaCare:
These Americans do have a choice. They can choose a different plan being offered by their insurer or they can shop for coverage in the marketplace or outside the marketplace. As insurers have made clear, they are not dropping consumers, they’re improving their coverage options, often offering better-value plans with additional benefits.
But at the end of the day, the CMS head failed to make any new friends. Colorado Sen. Michael Bennett, a Democrat who faces a tough re-election race next year because of ObamaCare, blasted Tavenner for helping prove that the federal government can’t do large tech projects. “We’re seeing that in spades here,” he told her.
* A Yiddish term, usually used in conjunction with schlemiel and explained thus: A schlemiel is a person who spills the bowl of hot soup he is eating. The shlamazel is the hapless soul on whose lap the hot liquid ends up.
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