Sounds like Healthcare.gov suffered from high self-esteem

For that day and the next, CGI staff huddled with government officials in the semicircular conference room at the headquarters of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the agency overseeing the project. They combed through 15 pages of spreadsheets they had brought, which spelled out the company’s level of confidence — high, medium or low — that individual components would be ready.

Nothing like positive thinking!

via Prof. Reynolds.

Blame the Republicans!

The administration did not refuse to issue key regulations and guidelines, or to announce the final number of states that would be building their own exchanges, because Republicans used secret mind-control rays or stole the notebooks they had used to write the draft memo. They delayed because they did not want Republicans to be able to tell the public about them before Barack Obama was safely re-elected to a second term.

In other words, most of the damage was done not by lack of funding, but because the administration was either incompetent or trying to insulate itself from the perfectly ordinary, natural, legitimate and, dare I say, patriotic function of an opposition party, which is to point out to the public when the party in charge is doing something that the public wouldn’t like. Reframing “criticism of the administration” as “sabotage” deserves an Oscar for outstanding lifetime achievement in the field of political spin.

That’s Megan McArdle on the current media spin on how and why Obama failed. And don’t be mistaken – if this is his signature program, it is no success. Her headline: Obamacare Shouldn’t Have Been Managed Like a Campaign. But that seems to be most of what he contemporary Democratic Party knows how to do, so that’s what they did. She’s reading a Washington Post story from this weekend and some of the current commentary (the “sabotage” mentioned in the 2nd paragraph above).

I only wish I believe the Republicans could have been so effective as the Democrats seem to have feared they would be!

Obama is not going to last. He might have a conscience!

According to the new book “Double Down,” in which journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann chronicle the 2012 presidential election, President Barack Obama told his aides that he’s “really good at killing people” while discussing drone strikes.

See, I think that all politicians (yeah, pretty much all – even at the city level) are venal. I think that a level or two up (certainly by the state legislature level), they have greatly reduced moral compasses.

Get them to Washington, and they’re amoral at the nice end of the spectrum – and not unlikely to have flayed corpses in their basements at the other.

But men like Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George H.W., and George W. Bush keep ticking along. If Obama is feeling this way before he’s out of office . . . I would check up on the suicide coverage in his insurance, if I were

The Best and the Brightest problem. This time it might not destroy just Vietnam.

Looking back on all the conversations I had with the health-care law’s supporters in and out of government in 2009, I do not think they had that gut-level understanding that the universe was under no obligation to comply with their elegant system. They thought that if they just got all the incentives right, everything else would fall into place. They didn’t reckon with the nuts-and-bolts details — like computer systems — that could easily destroy their carefully laid plans. They figured that if you wanted it badly enough, and had enough money, and put your smartest and most competent and most dedicated people in charge, it would have to work. All the focus was on the levers they would be pulling; no one was brought in to think about the engine of the machine until much too late.

That’s Ms. McArdle.

 

Wow. (Current) Comprehensive Obamacare Fail Retrospective

At least as of now. Megan McArdle:

[oh, and if you want to write off Megan as a Evil Libertarian, the launch has lost the Wonkblog Boy Leader Ezra Klein.]

This is stunning. It’s far worse than I imagined, and I am pretty cynical. The law’s supporters are engaged in some high-speed blamestorming: It’s the Republicans’ fault for not giving the law more money, or it’s the fault of Republican governors who didn’t build their exchanges, or maybe it’s one of the vendors — CGI, the firm with the largest contract, is the most favored target, but at various times, the administration has clearly been teeing up to blame Experian or Oracle. Or perhaps the fault lies in federal procurement rules, which prevented the government from getting the right kind of staff and service. A lot of that shows up in the article; there’s a long prelude about the political barriers that the administration faced. But ultimately, the litany of mistakes that the administration made overwhelms these complaints.

. . .

Federal contracting codes, so far as I am aware, do not emit intoxicating gases that might have caused senior HHS officials to decide that it was a good idea to take on the role of lead contractor — a decision equivalent to someone who has never even hung a picture deciding that they should become their own general contractor and build a house. Nor can those rules explain their lunatic response when they were told that the system was not working — “failure was not an option.”

. . .

The reason that the exchanges were so important was that they were needed to attract young, healthy people into the insurance system. The worry was that if insurance is hard to buy — if you have to do your own comparison shopping and then call the insurance company, and fax in some paperwork and two years of tax returns — that the young and the healthy simply won’t do it. Sick people and old people who were getting huge subsidies — and maybe the ability to buy insurance on the private market for the first time in a long while — would overcome any obstacles, because if you’re spending $15,000 a year on health care, it’s worth a lot of your time to make sure that you have insurance. But if your biggest annual health-care expense is contact lens solution, you may just decide to skip it and pay the fine.[my emphases]

I like “blamestorming.” Not thinking about real things, just at whom to point fingers. Kind of like the competition to blame each other for the Federal shut down. You know, I keep remembering that Congress funds and the Executive executes. In other words, every decision about WHAT to shut down flows to the top. That buck stops on Obama’s desk.

I can’t WAIT for the tell-all books from this administration. You know that despite however tight the messaging control and whistle-blower prosecutions have been, the administration will depart and the waters will roll (in fact, I’m surprised they haven’t started already). Finally, presidential historians will start combing the papers – 25, 50 years from now – and it will ALL come out.

Manhattan – the blunt force trauma of wealth inequality

Separate entrance, separate elevator, separate maintenance company for the poor folks.

Why include affordable housing in the building? “Together, the buildings paid just $567,337 in annual taxes. Without the 421a program, they would have paid the city $22 million, according to appraisal firm Miller Samuel Inc.”

In the low income units the 2 bedroom apartments will go for $400 more per month than I pay – and I wouldn’t qualify, based on my income. I’m fairly sure I have a lot more square footage than they do, anyway (not to mention a totally unexpected but very handy extra half bath). But, of course, I don’t live on the Upper West Side.

One wonders, based on voting patterns in Manhattan, if any of the folks on the river-facing side will vote anything but Democrat.

via Professor Cowen.

Symptoms of Stardom

There is a belief within American media that a successful person can succeed at anything. He (and it’s invariably he) is omnicompetent, and people who question him and laugh at his outlandish ideas will invariably fail and end up working for him. If he cares about something, it’s important; if he says something can be done, it can. The people who are already doing the same thing are peons and their opinions are to be discounted, since they are biased and he never is. He doesn’t need to provide references or evidence – even supposedly scientific science fiction falls into this trope, in which the hero gets ideas from his gut, is always right, and never needs to do experiments.

This is from an interesting essay on why Elon Musk’s Hyperloop won’t work. I don’t care at all about the technical details of exotic high speed transport on the west coast, but the first part and the last part of the essay, on why the culture of unquestioned superstar entrepreneurs, is well-worth reading!

via Prof. Cowen

What’s with Obamacare and the deficit now?

Have a Democratic friend who insists that the Ds are the party of real fiscal responsibility? I know a bunch – many of them are economics professors. Ms McArdle says:

I said at the time that I didn’t think that Democrats actually cared about deficit reduction as much as they cared about saying that their cherished health care bill reduced the deficit.  A bill that the CBO scored as increasing the deficit was politically deadly.  But a bill which actually increased the deficit, but scored as if it didn’t because it was stuffed to the gills with wildly improbable payfors . . .

Current events seem to bear this out.  Has anyone changed their mind about the wisdom of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as the “deficit reducing” components have been steadily . . . er . . . reduced?  Hardly.  Is anyone wondering whether we should scotch the thing now that the employer mandate is looking shaky?  Of course not.  If it turns out that the law costs $100 billion or so extra a year, what percentage of its supporters will declare it wasn’t worth it?  Would zero percent be too high?

Of course I’m not accusing the Democrats of anything special.  Republicans had of course already proven that they cared about the deficit only when they were out of power; when they held the reins of government, it was time for the nonstop all-night tax cutting party. Last one into the pooled income deduction is a rotten egg! [my emphases]