Obama’s Remarks on the ACA Rollout Debacle: From Selling Hope and Change to Hawking Insurance

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Obama’s “remarks” are a sales pitch. WaPo’s MoDo, Dana Milbank: “Not since the Ginsu knife cut through an aluminum can and still sliced a tomato has America seen a pitch quite like the one President Obama delivered.” Much more importantly, Jon Stewart: “When did the President of the United States turn into Gill from the Simpsons?” The Wordle tells the story; let’s break out the color coding magic markers:


Obama’s selling insurance.

I thought for awhile that I’d have to invent a new color code for explicit shilling, but then I realized I had it already: Bathos, the abrupt transition in style from the exalted to the commonplace. Here, the exalted would be the dignity of the Presidential office; and the commonplace would be the “Come on down!” of The Price is Right. Very sad, especially when we consider the feelings of those who considered Obama some sort of Bodhisattva.

Technically, I find the speech interesting for two reasons: first, the dexterity with which Obama manages to evade all responsibility for the debacle of the website; second, the moment when he starts using using his favorite rhetorical device, anaphora, and immediately begins to emit utterly copious streams of bullshit, such that whole paragraphs get colored bathetic. It’s like watching a fighter jet take off and head for the vertical, trailing smoke and flames.

Anyhow, as usual color coding Obama is necessary to keep the record straight and it’s also, in a sick sort of way, fun.

However, these posts also have a very serious, even a deadly serious, purpose: Public speaking is utterly necessary for effective civic engagement. It’s not enough to have good thoughts or a good heart; you have to be able to express yourself in front of other people! So, by studying masters of rhetoric like Obama, we can learn his techniques and, unless they involve bullshit, turn them to our own purposes.

* * *



Secular religion

A mish-mash of phrases from the Framers, Lincoln and MLK echoes, and so forth


Bathos is an abrupt transition in style from the exalted to the commonplace

Neo-liberal catchphrase

“Free market,” “innovation,” “hard choices” etc.


“Our most vulnerable citizens”

Bipartisan shibboleth

“The troops,” for example

Dead metaphors/cliche

“Ring the changes on,” “take up the cudgel for,” “toe the line,” “ride roughshod over,” etc. (Orwell)

Sheer nonsense

Word salad

Falsehood or truthiness

A terminological inexactitude


Lawyerly parsing and weasel wording


“Ladies and gentleman,” and so forth.

* * *

THE PRESIDENT: Everybody, have a seat.

MS. BAKER: 1 Hello. My name is Janice Baker. I have the privilege to say that I’m the first person in the state of Delaware to enroll for health insurance through the new marketplace.(Applause.) Like many consumers out there, it took me a number of frustrating attempts2before I could apply for and select my plan. I kept trying because I needed access to the new health care options.

I had applied to three private insurance companies only to be rejected due to preexisting health conditions. I am too young for Medicare, but I’m too old not to have some health issues.3I was able to find a policy I am thrilled with, saving $150 a month, and much lower deductibles than my previous policy that I held through my small business.

I’m here today to encourage other people like me who needs access to quality, affordable insurance, and to tell them to have patience with such a new system.4 Without this ability to get this insurance, I know that a single hospital stay could have bankrupted me and my business.5

Thank you all. And I am now honored to introduce the President of the United States. (Applause.)

  1. We can be sure that if Obama had good numbers, he would deploy them, in addition to anecdotes. He does not.
    “[T]he new marketplace” in Delaware is a state Exchange (marketplace), so Baker’s remarks are not germane to the Federal Exchange (Obama’s responsibility), although a careless listener might think otherwise.
  2. Seven hours worth.
  3. Alas for Obama, Baker is a walking case study of adverse selection, and not the sort of “young invincible” Obama needs to appeal to in his misguided quest for actuarial soundness in a social insurance program. More, if Obama had a “young invincible” to put on display, it’s a hundred to one he would have.
  4. If people had followed Baker’s advice, this event would never have happened, because there would have been no pressure on Obama.
  5. It still could, given the results with ObamaCare’s predecessor in Massachusetts, RomneyCare, especially if Ms. Baker requires out-of-network care from a specialist.


MS. BAKER: Thank you. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you, everybody. Well, thank you, Janice. And thanks to everybody here for coming on this beautiful day. Welcome to the White House.

About three weeks ago, as the federal government shut down, the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplaces1 opened for business across the country. Well, we’ve now gotten the government back open for the American people, and today I want to talk about how we’re going to get the marketplaces running at full steam, as well.2 And I’m joined today by folks who have either benefited from the Affordable Care Act already, or who are helping their fellow citizens3 learn about what this law means for them and how they can get covered.4

  1. First use of “marketplace” (16 total).
  2. Yet not, presumably, “steam powered.” Obama seeks to associate the Marketplace #FAIL with the shutdown, even though ObamaCare funding was mandatory and not affected.
  3. Obama’s first and only use of “citizens.” Four uses of “consumer” follow, in addition to the single use by Baker, since “consumers,” as opposed to “citizens,” participate Marketplaces. In the ideal market state, all relations between citizen and State (except those of compliance or coercion) would be mediated by a market.
  4. “Get covered” (punched 5 times) seems to be what people should do and what ObamaCare offers.

Of course, you’ve probably heard that HealthCare.gov – the new website where people can apply for health insurance, and browse and buy affordable plans in most1 states –- hasn’t worked as smoothly as it was supposed to work. And the number of people who have visited the site has been overwhelming2, which has aggravated some of these3 underlying problems.

  1. 37.
  2. Obama lies and deflects without shame or remorse. The site crashed almost immediately after launch with a couple of thousand users.
  3. Some? These? Which?

Despite all that, thousands of people are signing up1 and saving money as we speak2. Many Americans with a preexisting condition, like Janice, are discovering that they can finally get health insurance like everybody else.3

  1. How many? And have they “signed up” in the sense of having gotten site accounts, or in the sense of having actually purchased insurance? No matter the answer, Obama would be giving the numbers if they would help him close the sale, rather than the few anecdotes he gives.
  2. As FDR said: “The only thing we have to fear is not saving money.” The only people saving money “as we speak” have made it all the way through the application process and been approved by the insurance company, an unknown number, or are getting coverage comparable to what they have now, again an unknown number.
  3. Visionary minimalism. Pre-existing conditions plus “saving money” on the premiums (never mind co-pays or deductibles) seems to be the pitch, though later in the speech Obama moves on to “security.” But getting insurance “like everybody else” is not the same as having insurance like everybody else has; thin networks may not have specialists, for example. If you live in Maine in Piscataquid County, you could pay a thousand dollars more for the same plan than if you live in Cumberland County. True, covering pre-existing conditions is good. It’s just not nearly good enough, as measured by first-world standards.

So today, I want to speak to every American who’s looking to get affordable health insurance.1 I want you to know what’s available to you and why it may be a good deal for you. And for those who’ve had some problems with the website, I want to tell you what we’re doing to make it work better and how you can sign up to get covered2 in other ways.

  1. From selling hope and change to just selling. Put. That coffee. Down. ObamaCare’s for closers only.
  2. Punching “get covered” again. Must have focus grouped, and I bet for “young invincibles.”

But before I do that, let me remind everybody that the Affordable Care Act is not just a website.1 It’s much more. For the vast majority of Americans — for 85 percent of Americans who already have health insurance through your employer or Medicare or Medicaid -– you don’t need to sign up for coverage through a website at all. You’ve already got coverage.2 What the Affordable Care Act does for you is to provide you with new benefits and protections that have been in place for some time. You may not know it, but you’re already benefiting from these provisions in the law.3

  1. No serious critique of the rollout considered the ACA or the IT system that supports it as “just a website.” The website is the frontend, but by all accounts there are backend problems, too (frontend vs. backend). Most serious among them: Incorrect eligibility determination, and corrupt “834s” (application data) forwarded to insurance companies, such that they must re-enter the data manually. Now, all the other ways to apply – by phone, or through a navigator, or on paper – also depend on the backend eligibility engine throwing people into the right subsidy bucket, and on passing correct 834s to the insurance companies. The other things that ObamaCare does – no pre-existing conditions, kids on their parents’ polices – do not require the Marketplace, eligibility determination, subsidy, or the mandate. And the Marketplace, eligibility determination, subsidy calculation, and enforcing the mandate at the IRS all depend on IT. So, everything that makes ObamaCare ObamaCare, while not “just a website,” is most definitely an IT system. So Obama is equivocating here in a totally swivel-eyed fashion.
  2. Or not!
  3. “In the law.” Exactly. And since none of these provisions require eligibility, subsidy, or the mandate, the ObamaCare IT system could be blown into bits tomorrow and people would still benefit from “the law.”

For example, because of the Affordable Care Act, young people like Jasmine Jennings, and Jessica Ugalde, and Ezra Salop, all of whom are here today, they’ve been able to stay on their parents’ plans until they’re 26. Millions of other young people are currently benefiting from that part of the law. (Applause.) Another part of the Affordable Care Act is providing seniors with deeper discounts on their prescription medicine. Billions of dollars have been saved by seniors already. That’s part of the law. It’s already in place. It’s happening right now.1

  1. None of these minor tweak benefits require the Marketplace, eligibility determination, subsidy, or the mandate. These benefits are the bait. ObamaCare is the switch.

Already, because of the Affordable Care Act, preventive care like mammograms and birth control are free through your employers. That’s part of this law.1 (Applause.) So there are a wide range of consumer protections and benefits that you already have if you’ve got health insurance. You may not have noticed them, but you’ve got them, and they’re not going anywhere.And they’re not dependent on a website.2

  1. See note above. More bait and switch.
  2. Epistrophe, ending a series of lines, phrases, clauses, or sentences with the same word or words. Obama will now end a number of paragraphs with “not dependent on a website” or similar. To my (extremely cynical) ear, this sounds like ending paragraphs with “Look! Over there!”.

Here’s another thing that the Affordable Care Act does. In states where governors and legislatures have wisely allowed it, the Affordable Care Act provides the opportunity1 for many Americans to get covered under Medicaid for the first time. So in Oregon, for example, that’s helped cut the number of uninsured people by 10 percent just in the last three weeks. Think about that. That’s 56,000 more Americans who now have health care.2, 3 (Applause.) That doesn’t depend on a website.

  1. People do not have the “opportunity” to get Medicaid. They are forced into it if their income is under 138% of the Federal Poverty Line. This is important to over-55s, since Medicaid costs will be clawed back from their estates.
  2. No. They have health insurance. That’s not the same as having health care. In this speech, Obama constantly shifts and equivocates between health care and health insurance; this equivocation implicit in the very (Orwellian) name, the Affordable Care Act, as well is the very (Orwellian) URL, healthcare.gov.
  3. Like everything else ObamaCare (albeit inconsistently and capriciously) delivers, that’s good. It’s just not good enough.

Now, if you’re one of the 15 percent1 of Americanswho don’t have health insurance — either because you can’t afford it or because your employer doesn’t offer it, or because you’re a small businessperson and you have to go out on the individual market and buy it on your own and it’s just too expensive — October 1st was an important date. That’s when we opened the new marketplaces where people without health insurance, or who can’t afford health insurance, or who aren’t part of a group plan, can 2 finally start getting affordable coverage.

  1. That is, a small, marginal, othered population.
  2. Must. ObamaCare has a mandate.

And the idea is simple. By enrolling in what we’re calling these marketplaces, you become part of a big group plan — as if you were working for a big employer1— a statewide2M group plan that spreads risk between sick people and healthy people, between young and old3, and then bargains on your behalf4 for the best deal on health care.5 What we’ve done is essentially create a competition where there wasn’t competition before.6 We created these big group plans, and now insurers are really interested in getting your business7. And so insurers have created new health care plans with more choices to be made available through these marketplaces8.

  1. Sounds like socialism; in fact, if there were collective ownership of the means of production, it would be socialism. Surprisingly, the right wing nomenklatura isn’t all over this. I hate to deploy “the party of stupid” trope, but really, when you see a missed opportunity like this, what can you say?
  2. Many plans are not statewide; Covered California has plans whose prices vary by county.
  3. Why does a government program need to adopt the actuarial model for social insurance. Sure, because The Market, but any deeper reason?
  4. How on earth does an insurance company “bargain on your behalf”? Is ObamaCare one big union? WTF?
  5. No, the best deal for health insurance. Health insurance is not health care.
  6. Not true for in- and out-of-network specialists. Not true for monopoly states.
  7. Come on down!
  8. More choice isn’t necessarily good. And because actuarial value is an art not a science, it’s not at all clear that the plans in practice will be commensurable, no matter the bullet points on the website.

And as a result of this choice and this competition, prices have come down1. When you add the new tax credits that many people are eligible for through the law, then the prices come down even further. So one study shows that through new options created by the Affordable Care Act, nearly 6 in 10 uninsured Americans will find that they can get covered2 for less than $100 a month. Think about that. (Applause.)

  1. Medical costs are down because the economy is in the toilet. In any case, we need to know, not just the premium – and since Obama relentlessly points us there, we know it’s a distraction – but the co-pays, the deductibles, and how the value of the plan nets out.
  2. Punches “get covered.” On the other, I’d have to see the study and the plans, not just the premiums, to know if the plans were good value. WaPo’s fact checker rates this claim pending.

Through the marketplaces, you can get health insurance for what may be the equivalent of your cell phone bill1 or your cable bill, and that’s a good deal.

  1. Obama should really stop repeating this lie.

So the fact is the product of the Affordable Care Act for people without health insurance is quality health insurance that’s affordable.1 And that product is working.It’s really good. And it turns out there’s a massive demand for it.So far, the national website, HealthCare.gov, has been visited nearly 20 million times.2 Twenty million times. (Applause.) And there’s great demand at the state level as well, because3 there are a bunch of states that are running their own marketplaces.

  1. At this point, I don’t see how we can know this on basis other than taking it on trust.
  2. Hits are not conversions.
  3. How does the mere existence of a marketplace show demand? (Yes, the states have much, much better conversion rates, but that’s not the claim Obama makes.)

We know that nearly one-third1 of the people applyingin Connecticut and Maryland, for example, are under 35 years old.2 They understand that they can get a good deal at low costs, have the security of health care, and this is not just for old folks like me — that everybody needs good quality health insurance.3 And all told, more than half a million consumers across the country have successfully submitted4 applicationsthrough federal and state marketplaces. And many of those applications aren’t just for individuals, it’s for their entire families. So even more people are already looking to potentially take advantage of the high quality, affordable insurance that is provided through the Affordable Care Act.

  1. No absolute numbers. And what does “apply” mean? Apply for an account, or apply for insurance?
  2. If this were not a very small sample, Obama would surely quote it.
  3. No, everybody needs good quality health care. Health insurance is not health care.
  4. Again, “submitted” for an account, or insurance?The only numbers that count toward Obama’s goal of 7 million are people who have been approved by insurance companies. So far, so little data has reached the insurance companies that they can process the applications manually (which they have to anyhow, because the data is corrupt).

So let me just recap here. The product is good. The health insurance that’s being provided is good. It’s high quality and it’s affordable. People can save money, significant money, by getting insurance that’s being provided through these marketplaces. And we know that the demand is there. People are rushing to see what’s available. And those who have already had a chance to enroll are thrilled with the result. Every day,people who were stuck with sky-high premiums because of preexisting conditions are getting affordable insurance for the first time, or finding, like Janice did, that they’re saving a lot of money. Every day, women are finally buying coverage that doesn’t charge them higher premiums than men for the same care. (Applause.) Every day, people are discovering that new health insurance plans have to cover maternity care, mental health care, free preventive care. 1

  1. Anaphora, repetition of the same word or group of words at the beginning of successive clauses, sentences, or lines. “Every day… Every day… Every day…..” This is Obama’s favorite rhetorical figure. He is hitting his stride!

So you just heard Janice’s story — she owns her own small business. She recently became the first woman1 to enroll in coverage through Delaware’s exchange. And it’s true, it took her a few tries2, but it was worth it after being turned down for insurance three times due to minor preexisting conditions.3 So now she’ll be4 covered, she’ll save 150 bucks a month, and she won’t have to worry that one illness or accident will cost her her business that she’s worked so hard to build.5

  1. And the first person!
  2. Seven hours (supra).
  3. Again, I’m happy Janice is covered. Is everybody? No. Does ObamaCare bring our health care system to first world standards? No.
  4. Anaphora again: “She’ll be…She’ll save…She won’t… She’s worked.” From here on he is soaring.
  5. Not if experience of RomneyCare is any guide (supra). Medical bankruptcy is still a problem in Masachusetts.

And Janice is not alone. I recently received a letter from a woman named Jessica Sanford in Washington State. And here’s what she wrote: “I am a single mom, no child support, self-employed, and I haven’t had insurance for 15 years because it’s too expensive. My son has ADHD and requires regular doctor visits and his meds alone cost $250 per month. I have had an ongoing tendinitis problem due to my line of work that I haven’t had treated. Now, finally, we get to have coverage because of the ACA for $169 per month. I was crying the other day when I signed up. So much stress lifted.”1

  1. Again, I’m happy Jessica and her son covered (though I also wish the economy weren’t still in the tank so Jessica had better employment choices). Is everybody covered? No. Does ObamaCare bring our health care system to first world standards? No.

Now, that is not untypical for a lot of folks like Jessica who have been struggling without health insurance. That’s what the Affordable Care Act is all about. The point is, the essence of the law — the health insurance that’s available to people — is working just fine. In some cases, actually, it’s exceeding expectations — the prices are lower than we expected, the choice is greater than we expected.1

  1. How many cases is “some”? And is prices were lower and choice is greater “than we expected,” could it be that the estimates were gamed?

But the problem has been that the website1 that’s supposed to make it easy to apply for and purchase the insurance is not working the way it should for everybody. And there’s no sugarcoating it. The website has been too slow, people have been getting stuck during the application process. And I think it’s fair to say that nobody2 is more frustrated by that than I am– precisely because the product is good, I want the cash registers to work. I want the checkout lines to be smooth. So I want people to be able to get this great product. And there’s no excuse for the problems,and these problems are getting fixed.3

  1. No, the entire system, frontend and backend together, with all the systems integration issues.
  2. “Nobody”? Really? Obama’s got a pre-existing condition or has been without insurance for 15 years?
  3. So who’s accountable?

But while we’re working out the kinks in the system, I want everybody to understand the nature of the problem. First1 of all, even with all the problems at HealthCare.gov, the website is still working for a lot of people2— just not as quick or efficient or consistent as we want. And although many of these folks have found that they had to wait longer than they wanted, once they complete the process they’re very happy3 with the deal that’s available to them, just like Janice’s.

  1. Eutrepismus, numbering and ordering the parts under consideration; “One… Two… Three… Four….” Artfully, Obama does not number steps in a solution, but provides a laundry list, a numbered miscellany. He minimizes the problems in points one and two, claims he has a plan to have a plan in point three, and suggests an alternative in point four (incidentally showing that the outcome from point three will at least not be immediate). But he sounds organized.
  2. How much is “a lot”?
  3. Evidence?

Second, I want everybody to remember that we’re only three weeks into a six-month open enrollment period, when you can buy these new plans.(Applause.) Keep in mind the insurance doesn’t start until January 1st; that’s the earliest that the insurance can kick in.1 No one who decides to purchase a plan has to pay their first premium until December 15th. And unlike the day after Thanksgiving sales for the latest Playstation or flat-screen TVs, the insurance plans don’t run out. 2They’re not going to sell out. They’ll be available through the marketplace — (applause) — throughout the open enrollment period. The prices that insurers have set will not change. So everybody who wants insurance through the marketplace will get insurance, period.3(Applause.) Everybody who wants insurance through the marketplace will get insurance.4

  1. I hate this argument. People are being mandated to buy a product that could cost them thousands of dollars, and I’m sure they would like to be able to plan for the purchase, especially before the end of the year, when their taxes (and what they determine to be their income) could be affected. January 1 has nothing at all to do with this. And yet Obana tells them “all in good time” – when the administration had three years and a squillion dollars to do the job right!
  2. Obama thinks his audience of citizens consumers doesn’t know this. Odd.
  3. Conduplicatio, the repetition of a word or words. In this case, the same complete sentence, twice, for emphasis.
  4. If they want it enough, yes. Anyhow, they had better want it, because they’re mandated to get it.

Third, we are doing everything we can possibly do to get the websites1 working better, faster, sooner. We’ve got people working overtime, 24/7, to boost capacity and address the problems. Experts from some of America’s top private-sector tech companies who, by the way, have seen things like this happen before2, they want it to work. They’re reaching out. They’re offering to send help. We’ve had some of the best IT talent in the entire country join the team.3 And we’re well into a “tech surge” to fix the problem. And we are confident that we will get all the problems fixed.4

  1. Plural?
  2. All the more reason for the Federal Marketplace developers to run their complete test suite! Which they never did.
  3. Brooks’s Law: “Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.”
  4. Not possible, even though Obama didn’t say when the bugs would be fixed. “Program testing can be used to show the presence of bugs, but never to show their absence” (Edsger Dijkstra).

Number four — while the website will ultimately be the easiest way to buy insurance through the marketplace, it isn’t the only way. And I want to emphasize this. Even as we redouble our efforts to get the site working as well as it’s supposed to, we’re also redoubling our efforts to make sure you can still buy the same quality, affordable insurance plans available on the marketplace the old-fashioned way — offline, either over the phone or in person.

And, by the way, there are a lot of people who want to take advantage of this1 who are more comfortable working on the phone anyway or in person. So let me go through the specifics as to how you can do that if you’re having problems with the website or you just prefer dealing with a person.

  1. Probably not, however, the “young invincibles” with their cell phones and tablets, who must be enrolled if ObamaCare is to succeed in actuarial terms.

Yesterday, we updated the website’s home page to offer more information about the other avenues1 to enroll in affordable health care until the online option works for everybody. So you’ll find information about how to talk to a specialist who can help you apply over the phone or to receive a downloadable application you can fill out yourself and mail in.

  1. This is Serco, the UK firm hired in July. Since they are enmeshed in an over-billing scandal in the UK where they inflated the number of their clients, we will want to examine their numbers carefully.

We’ve also added more staff to the call centers where you can apply for insurance over the phone. Those are already — they’ve been working. But a lot of people have decided first to go to the website. But keep in mind, these call centers are already up and running. And you can get your questions answered by real people, 24 hours a day, in 150 different languages. The phone number for these call centers is 1-800-318-2596. I want to repeat that — 1-800-318-2596. Wait times have averaged less than one minute so far on the call centers, although I admit that the wait times probably might go up a little bit now that I’ve read the number out loud on national television. (Laughter.)

But the point is the call centers are available. You can talk to somebody directly and they can walk you through the application process. And I guarantee you, if one thing is worth the wait, it’s the safety and security of health care1 that you can afford, or the amount of money that you can save by buying health insurance through the marketplaces. (Applause.)

  1. Yet once more Obama conflates health insurance and health care.

Once you get on the phone with a trained representative, it usually takes about 25 minutes for an individual to apply for coverage, about 45 minutes for a family.1 Once you apply for coverage, you will be contacted by email or postal mail about your coverage status.

  1. Evidence?

But you don’t have to just go through the phone. You can also apply in person with the help of local navigators – these are people specially trained to help you sign up for health care, and they exist all across the country, or you can go to community health centers and hospitals. Just visit LocalHelp.HealthCare.govto1 find out where in your area you can get help and apply for insurance in person.

  1. Just to be ornery, I went there and typed in my zip to find the “local help” in my area. Horrible user experience, nothing like a shopping site. A list of 42 possibilities. Big, cellphone-style typesize on my laptop, 10 per page, so 5 pages to click and then scroll through, with no way to get all the hits on one page for quick scanning. No rhyme or reason for the order of the results. No way to sort by name or location. No way to filter the results by facet (like size, color, and price on a shopping site); filtering by proximity (“within 10 miles”) would have been useful. Of course, the most useful presentation of all for “local help” would have been on a map. I hear Google has an API that will help developers set that kind of thing up. Ha ha. What a mess. Insulting and condescending to users, because wasteful of their time.

And finally, if you’ve already tried to apply through the website and you’ve been stuck somewhere along the way, do not worry. In the coming weeks, we will contact you directly, personally, with a concrete recommendation for how you can complete your application, shop for coverage, pick a plan that meets your needs, and get covered once and for all.1

  1. So Obama just incentivized failed applications, right?

So here’s the bottom line. The product, the health insurance is good. The prices are good. It is a good deal. People don’t just want it; they’re showing up to buy it. Nobody is madder than me1 about the fact that the website isn’t working as well as it should, which means it’s going to get fixed.(Laughter and applause.)

  1. Seems a little late for the CEO to get mad about a late project. Is Obama saying that he only found out about the problems after the launch? If so, what does that say about the administration? If not, why didn’t Obama get mad before? Is anybody accountable for this debacle?

And in the meantime, you can bypass the website and apply by phone or in person. So don’t let problems with the website deter you from signing up, or signing your family up, or showing your friends how to sign up, because it is worth it. It will save you money. If you don’t have health insurance, if you’ve got a preexisting condition, it will save you money and it will give you the security that your family needs.

In fact, even with the website issues, we’ve actually made the overall process of buying insurance through the marketplace a lot smoother and easier than the old way of buying insurance on your own. Part of the challenge here is that a lot of people may not remember what it’s like to buy insurance the traditional way.

The way we’ve set it up, there are no more absurdly long application forms.1 There’s no medical history questionnaire that goes on for pages and pages. There’s no more getting denied because you’ve had a preexisting condition. Instead of contacting a bunch of different insurers one at a time, which is what Janice and a lot of people who are shopping on the individual market for health insurance had to do, there’s one single place you can go shop and compare plans that have to compete for your business. There’s one single phone number you can call for help. And once the kinks in the website have been ironed out, it will be an even smoother and even easier. But in the meantime, we will help you sign up — because consumers want to buy this product and insurance companies want to sell it to you.

  1. Obama’s decision to redesign the input form three months before launch was a cause of delay and rework, certainly for the Connecticut exchange.

Now, let me close by addressing some of the politics that have swirled around the Affordable Care Act. I recognize that the Republican Party has made blocking the Affordable Care Act its signature policy idea. Sometimes it seems to be the one thing that unifies the party these days. (Laughter.) In fact, they were willing to shut down the government and potentially harm the global economy to try to get it repealed.1 And I’m sure that given the problems with the website so far, they’re going to be looking to go after it even harder. And let’s admit it — with the website not working as well as it needs to work, that makes a lot of supporters nervous because they know how it’s been subject to so much attack, the Affordable Care Act generally.

  1. A tremendous, unheard of gift to Obama, since otherwise the Marketplace Launch clusterfaak would have been front page news for the last three weeks. Like I said, I hate to deploy “the party of stupid”…. Could the Republican’s oppo have been so poor that they actually believed the administration’s assurances that all was well?!?!

But I just want to remind everybody, we did not wage this long and contentious battle just around a website. That’s not what this was about.1 (Applause.) We waged this battle sto make sure that millions of Americans in the wealthiest nation on Earth finally have the same chance2 2 to get the same security of affordable quality health care as anybody else.3 That’s what this is about. (Applause.) And the Affordable Care Act has done that. 4

  1. Antithesis, juxtaposition of contrasting words or ideas (often, although not always, in parallel structure). “[W]e did not wage…. .We waged…”
  2. No, they don’t have a chance. It’s mandate. A chance is a choice.
  3. Note the lawyerly parsing of words. Obama says “millions… have the same chance… as anybody else.” That is most definitely not the same as saying “anybody… has the same chance…. as anybody else.” That’s because, even when fully implemented, ObamaCare will cover at most half of the existing uninsured. Note one more conflation of health insurance with health care.
  4. No, it hasn’t. It might, partly, after January 1, when coverage begins.

People can now get good insurance. People with preexisting conditions can now afford insurance. And if the launch of this website proves anything, it’s that people across the country don’t just need that security, they want that security.1 They want it.2 (Applause.) And in the meantime — I’ve said many times — I’m willing to work with anyone on any idea3 to make this law perform even better. But it’s time for folks to stop rooting for its failure4, because hardworking, middle-class families are rooting for its success. (Applause.) And if the product is good, they’re willing to be patient.5

  1. Antithesis, juxtaposition of contrasting words or ideas (often, although not always, in parallel structure). “… don’t just need, they want….”
  2. Conduplicatio, The repetition of a word or words. “… they want… They want it.”
  3. Except single payer.
  4. I’m rooting for ObamaCare’s success – as I define success. I don’t want people to suffer, so I want people – especially those who really need care, since alleviating suffering is far more important than actuarial value or CEO bonuses – to “get covered.” However, I think that the ObamaCare launch debacle provides single payer advocates with an unparalleled teaching opportunity to show people that there really are better alternatives, and as the actual plans on offer become more and more public, many additional teaching moments will appear. So, despite the efforts of the Democratic nomenklatura to tell us to SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP, I’m making the most of the opportunities for single payer advocacy. There will never be a better time.

I got a letter last week from a self-employed man named John Mier in Leetsdale, Pennsylvania.He used the new marketplace to get himself and his wife covered and save a lot of money. And here’s what he said, because it pretty much sums up my message today: “Yes, the website really stank for the first week.”(Laughter.) “But instead of paying $1,600 per month for a group insurance plan, we have a plan that will only cost us $692 a month –- a savings of $900 per month.” (Applause.) John said that while he saw — when he saw what they’d be paying, he turned to his wife and told her, “We might just pull through. We can afford this.” And John eventually predicted that “the website will work like a champ.” 1

  1. Macrologia, longwindedness. Using more words than are necessary in an attempt to appear eloquent. The speech reminds me of Nixon’s Checker’s speech, where IIRC Nixon was still speaking, on camera, when he ran out of time. Of course without the cute dog, Checkers, but I suppose Obama’s stage of anecdotalists could be seen to have been used to fill that role.

So John, he was frustrated by the website, but he’s feeling a little less frustrated once he found out that he was saving 900 bucks a month on his health insurance. (Applause.) And John is right, the website is going to get fixed and the law works. That’s why we fought so hard to pass this law — to save folks like John money; to give people who don’t have health insurance the chance to get it for the first time; to lift from the American people the crushing burden of unaffordable health care;1 to free families from the pervasive fear that one illness — (on-stage participant becomes ill) — there you go, you are ok. I’m right here. I got you. (Laughter.) No, no — you’re okay. This happens when I talk too long. (Laughter.) You’ll be okay. Here, why don’t you go. (Applause.)

Good catch, by the way, whoever was here. (Laughter.) 2

  1. Note not “all the American people.” And health insurance is not health care.
  2. People often fainted at Obama campaign appearances in 2008,

But that’s always our goal1, to free families from the pervasive fear that one illness or one injury might cost you everything2 that you dedicated a lifetime to build. Our goal has always been to declare that in this country the security of health care is not a privilege for a fortunate few. It’s a right3 for all to enjoy.(Applause.) That’s what the Affordable Care Act is all about. That’s its promise. And I intend to deliver on that promise.

  1. No. The goal of ObamaCare (RomneyCare (HeritageCare)) is to head off single payer and build the health insurance companies into the health care system forever.
  2. As long as you don’t need care out-of-network. For example.
  3. If the “security of health care” is indeed a right, as Obama here states that it is, than making access to that security vary whimsically by jurisdiction, age, and income is unconscionable. That is the fundamental failing of ObamaCare. There is much in ObamaCare that is good. It’s just not nearly good enough by first-world standards. ObamaCare will be a success if its own failings lead to its replacement by a truly universal system, and that as soon as possible.

Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. (Applause.)

* * *

I shouldhave a conclusion, but after processing material like this, I would really rather go somewhere quietly and lie down, thinking of nothing. There is probably much more bullshit in this speech than I was able to code. As usual, my real problem is that I’m never cynical enough. And I do try.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Cassiodorus

    I’m guessing that I’ll be paying $1000/year (with “good” subsidies) for rather little in order to avoid paying $750/year for nothing starting two years from now, when my 2015 tax returns are due. Woo hoo.

    1. Darwin

      Stop guessing and look it up before you bitch.
      Obamacare is a long way from perfect but it provide health insurance to millions of people who had none. What do you expect when they had to fight the insurance companies, the AMA, etc tooth an snail to do anything. Fine with them if people die from lack of care.

      1. skippy

        “Obamacare is a long way from perfect but it provide health insurance to millions of people who had none” – darwin

        Is that like in the commercials ie. its good to feel secure – peace of mind.

        Skippy… until delivery is just a mental position… cough… income stream to be looted. Hay… how about that roll out… who’s doing the auditing… never mind.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Do you understand the difference between health insurance and healthcare? Or do you just use sexist terms such as “bitch” to be clever and mimic the misogony of the Obama White House?

      3. sleepy

        Obama “had to fight the insurance companies”?

        Obamacare was written by the insurance companies via its lobbyist/mole planted inside Senator Baucus’s office–Liz Fowler, previously a Wellmark executive, now richly rewarded as a head lobbyist for Johnson and Johnson.

        1. Yves Smith

          Yes, even the New York Times, while the ACA was being negotiated, made it clear how this was the insurance industry’s plan, perversely via big flattering stories on insurers and industry lobbyists:




      4. Cynthia

        If Obamacare is so great, why doesn’t Obama and his family and all the other Democrats that voted for it sign up for it?

        It’s like a chef that doesn’t eat his own cooking. You might not want to eat at that restaurant.

      5. Cassiodorus

        First, I did look it up, and second, you may wish to ask whether or not all of the recipients of this insurance can afford to use said insurance (unless, of course, they’re drafted into insurance-use by a trip to the emergency room, which is health care also granted to the uninsured).

        If you go to your local bookstore there are now about half a dozen popular manuals out on “Obamacare.” Look up “copays and deductibles,” and tell us all what you find here.

      6. different clue

        Fine with them if people die without healthcare? Fine with Obama too, and all the Catfood Democrats, Norquist Democrats, and Stockholm Syndrome Democrats who voted for it.
        Am I wrong? Time will tell. Not that the pro-UpperClass MSM will report such deaths. The ProBush ProBama MSM will not report any such ObamaCare deaths.

  2. Thorstein

    It’s truly appalling how this country has become organized to make money off of the sick. Predatory.

  3. Clive

    Serco ? What *this* Serco ?


    And *this* Serco:


    And *this* Serco:


    And *this* Serco:


    To say that here across the pond Serco has got, erm, form for one scandal / display of incompetence after another is an understatement.

    Lambert, please tell me you made that bit up ?

    1. anon y'mouse

      perhaps he was being generous, and assuming that all was done -by accident/unintentionally- -with the best of intentions/motives & for the right reasons- as we good proles are s’posed to do of our betters when they deliberately screw us out of or into something.

  4. Dee

    My more or less average, corporates subsidized medical insurance premiums and copays are going up 25% next year.

    Somewhere, Hillary Clinton is cackling her ass off.

  5. Klassy!

    Bush had his “ownership society”. What do you think Obama would name his vision of society? “the empowered consumer”? “Strategic choice society”? (gotta have a “strategic” in there.
    The Stewart takedown- I don’t know: I didn’t watch the whole thing but it looks like he thinks it is all a problem of technical competence. I guess that critique would go over well with a lot of his audience.

    1. monday1929

      Yes, and they gave Alan Greenspan a standing ovation. Stewart let him get away with some Big Lies.

      1. Klassy!

        A standing ovation? That I have to see. Or not. I thought they were supposed to be the savvy audience.

  6. Throxx Of Vron

    “And finally, if youve already tried to apply through the website and youve been stuck somewhere along the way, do not worry. In the coming weeks, we will contact you directly, personally, with a concrete recommendation for how you can complete your application, shop for coverage, pick a plan that meets your needs, and get covered once and for all.


    …we will help you sign up because consumers want to buy this product and insurance companies want to sell it to you.” -Barack Obama

    Is .GOV tracking Everyone that visits Healthcare.gov with the intention of sending bureaucrats to personally coerce Individual Citizens into buying an insurance plan?
    Will the Bureaucrat that comes to My door have their sidearm holstered or in hand when they ring the bell?

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      As Lambert made clear in a recent post, health insuarnce is only the beginning.

      So to sum up both posts, the mandate is the model and the message is the massage.

  7. Brian

    Great post Lambert.

    Quick note though, Delaware is a “partnership” state regarding healthcare reform efforts. The health insurance marketplace in Delaware is not a state exchange. The website is Delaware-centric, but requires healthcare.gov functionality.


  8. Eureka Springs

    Good grief, this entire pitch reads like someone hawking wares on the home shopping channel.

    Btw, Evidently the Gov. of Arkansas had to call an emergency legislative session last week due to teachers health insurance rates jumping 50%!

    1. Darwin

      Yeah because you can believe the Govt of Arkansas when it comes to health care because they are oh so concerned about people getting insurance.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        So you don’t trust a state which elected Bill Clinton to the Governor’s mansion six separate times? Or a state with a grand total of two non-overlapping Republican Senators since Reconstruction? They keep putting Democrats into high office, so I am assuming you are a Republican, would I be correct?

  9. NotTimothyGeithner

    Even if Obama has young people to push in his speech who aren’t on mommy and daddy’s insurance despite being adults*, I’m not certain this would be good optics.

    The Obot mantra is white guilt and emotional arguments which include lumping all critics of Obama together and pre-existing conditions together. I’m not certain that would work. How does this sound:

    “I’m 27 and despite working on my computer science degree I haven’t been able to work regularly, and my parents both died of cancer leaving with a white elephant in their house which I can’t sell and my student loan debt. I couldn’t afford insurance, but now with Obama-care, I can afford insurance on an exchange.”

    The pre-existing condition one works because the horror stories have been going around and pushed by advocates of single-payer. What personal story is Obama going to find from a young person who isn’t privileged or a campaign worker?

    *25 is an adult, and when policies are championed about 25 year olds depending on mommy and daddy, the economy sucks. I suppose in our “arrested development” society which is the result of not having a place for the young. The questions should be why don’t they have jobs, what happens if their parents are uninsured, or they don’t have parents?

    1. anon y'mouse

      I believe that is the same age at which the government considers you emancipated sufficiently to apply for and obtain financial aid without consideration of your parent’s income in order to attend college.

      I have heard that the knew knowledge is that the brain does not reach full maturation until the age of 25 or so. not that I don’t believe that people should be experiencing increasing autonomy from the age of reason on, but perhaps this is an acknowledgement that, for those whose parents are able, they usually get a bit of help until mid-20’s, when parents expect you to have worked stuff out enough on your own to be able to fly solo.

      granted, i’m always horror-stricken when I meet someone who still does their 16-17-18 year old kid’s (or older!) laundry for them. I was doing the household’s laundry and cooking the dinner by 8 years. and we had no dryer, so it was clothesline time, plus endless ironing to get those baked-in wrinkles out.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I won’t disagree on brain formation, but the takeaway should be why aren’t there better economic opportunities. Lets be honest, only limited amounts of young people are covered by that 25 year old exemption.

        They can join the army. They can buy tobacco (I’m for legalization, but tobacco should just be banned. Prohibition of tobacco might work because of the amount needed to keep the addiction going, and its not socially acceptable the way drinking is.) They are tried in regular courts. They vote.

        They aren’t children, and they deserve to live in a society which works for them. A society where they are dependent on the generosity or luck of the draw is wrong, and Obama-care’s top selling point is you are lucky if you are in the better half because you can take advantage. This is wrong.

        My father’s father died when he was 19, and he had an illustrious career as a milkman, a realtor, a housepainter in the summer, and a sometimes a handy man when he wasn’t drunk. My father was able to provide for his education (the Catholic Church can be generous on occasion), help keep his mother in dignity, and help out with his sisters’ educations. Here is the beauty. He could afford healthcare then too and catastrophic insurance.

        This isn’t to say he didn’t help me, but society can’t function when a major obstacle to just not being a debt slave is whether your parents had insurance or not.

        25 year olds aren’t children. What is really annoying is those people being covered by mommy and daddy* are often healthy and part of what is necessary to make the mythical exchanges work. Right now, the only people in the market are poorer which probably means they are not as healthy for a variety of reasons such as poor food, poor air quality, and stress. They will collect more, but the people who can best balance it out aren’t paying in. The exchanges only work if these people are in it, but he’s pulling out these petty bourgeoise types to buy them off so they can sleep easy at night. It divides idiot 24 year old who are happy to be covered from people who are suffering. When they are 26, what are they going to do?

        1. anon y'mouse

          hey, you’ll get no guff from me. our laws are all over the place about what age one becomes ‘responsible’ for various things. driving, sex, drinking and voting are just a few. it all simply adds to the confusion.

          and yet, i’m also for being able to claim as -family-household member-dependent- whatyouwill anyone who lives under your roof that you are footing the bill for. and i’m pretty sure only the IRS lets you get away with that one.

    2. jrs

      Oh silly you worrying about thier parents being uninsured. It is a pitch to the better off portions of the middle class, those who can insure their kids and see them through college. Kids of poor people need not apply.

      What’s wrong with depending one’s parents past adulthood, after all everyone’s parents are emotionally and financially supporting and have insurance themselves right .. uh right? What kid wouldn’t want to be financially depedent on them well past the age of freedom from such reliance (age 18)? Well it’s an image we like to have about how everyone lives in this country anyway. Don’t mess with our fantasies.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I don’t see a problem with more cohesive family units and parents helping, but I do have a problem with a society where social cohesion maintained by another tax on the middling classes (the American middle class is dead). In Virginia, once a person turns 18 they are responsible for their parent’s behavior and dignity. Its a stupid law, but it is what it is.

        To keep the kids from being too grumpy, the parents are being taxed while monsters like Jaime Dimon are extracting wealth across the board while being given a free pass on fines by letting them not be paid in taxes.

        This is simply a middling class tax which the bourgeois don’t recognize because choosing a false peace of mind is their highest priority.

  10. Eureka Springs

    Additionally the outrageous true costs are always hidden with words like subsidy or affordable. We are and with ACA plan to remain by far the most expensive in the world with the worst health results…. leaving tens of millions of human beings/citizens without access at all.

  11. Bridget

    Update on clusterf**k.gov:

    The good news is, you can now “view plans” without registering. The bad news, “viewing plans” is nothing more than a premium quote, and they are wildly inaccurate. The reason being, you are not asked for your birthdate, so everyone under 50 is lumped together and everyone over 50 is lumped together. Nothing about deductibles, copays, networks,etc.

    HOWEVER, you can go to ehealthinsurance.gov and get EVERYTHING. In Travis County, Texas, 41 plans. Nice tables showing premium, deductible, copay. One click, and comprehensive detail is available. A couple of clicks and you can filter plan by provider name, search by plan for all included providers. Works perfectly for gathering data. What the Feds were thinking when they rolled out clusterf**k, I can’t imagine. And the fact that they paid hundreds of millions of dollars for it is outrageous.

    My sort of “canary in the coal mine” as far as judging the effect of Obamacare is a friend (Democrat,Obot). This person has been in the state high risk pool, can well afford to pay but nevertheless wants to pay less, is an enormous consumer of healthcare, and will have nothing but the best doctor, best hospital, best best best. My conclusion after gathering the data is that this person is going to be an unhappy camper. The platinum and gold PPO plans are not going to cost less than the state high risk pool, they are going to cost more.

    I’ve sent the ehealthinsurance link to some friends and family to help them see how they are going to be affected. I believe one of them, temporarily out of the work force, serious preexisting condition, self employed husband, is going to stay out of the workplace and obtain the subsidies. The others are younger, some in the individual market, one covered by employer insurance but considering quitting and has a preexisting condition.

    It’s an interesting exercise. I can see that lots of people are going to be making lifestyle changes in response to Obamacare. That may ultimately be more relevant to their satisfaction than the dollars.(which are not cheap)

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      “What the Feds were thinking”

      Nothing. Obama thinks he is wonderful and is an ignoramus. He really doesn’t care. He just wanted a success story, and I think he needed to have an answer to what has been the point of his Presidency, other than the last gasps of American empire.

  12. Jim Haygood

    ‘Of course, the most useful presentation of all for “local help” would have been on a map. I hear Google has an API that will help developers set that kind of thing up. Ha ha. What a mess. Insulting and condescending to users, because wasteful of their time.’

    Like the DMV, healthcare.gov is based on coercion — jump through its hoops, or you’ll get punished.

    So OF COURSE it’s insulting and condescending: coercion necessarily involves contempt for the coerced.

    A website to implement a coercive program can never be user-friendly, because the user is disrespected from the get-go.

  13. diptherio

    The website has been visited 20 million times:

    …at least 5 million of those were the tech support guys trying to figure out why everything was failing…and how many different IP addresses are those hits coming from? After all, it took Janice “a number of attempts”…

    1. jrs

      Another 10 million was every Repuclican ACA opponent out there having a laugh. And another 5 million was every software developer out there intriguied by the most famous “software development gone wrong” example of all time – one for the future textbooks.

  14. NotTimothyGeithner

    When did the President turn into Gil from “The Simpsons”? Wow. Its amazing, but I think Gil marked when “The Simpsons” cut two rewrites and John Swartzwelder stopped going into work all together to smoke tobacco in the privacy of his own home.

    Gil was just a shoddy, replacement character with a decent catch phrase for Lionel Hutz and other brilliant characters voiced by the legendary Phil Hartman*. Gil has been used to mask major declines in quality.

    What a fitting comparison for Obama.

    *Phil Hartman was the inspiration for Zapp Brannigan with the idea of creating a Zapp Brannigan spin-off starring Phil Hartman.

  15. Yancey Ward

    Why does a government program need to adopt the actuarial model for social insurance. Sure, because The Market, but any deeper reason?

    When it doesn’t want to borrow the money or raise the taxes to fund it!

    1. CTObserver

      Yes, this. The fact is that there is nothing close to nationwide agreement on a tax-funded healthcare system. No matter how much the left end of the Democratic party wants one.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        You mean like Medicare, Medicaid, the VA, and big honkin’ subsidies to the insurance companies and Big Pharma?

        To be fair, what we have is a tax-funded NON-system.

        Say, maybe if we could get a health care system that’s up to first world standards, you could get that knee seen to….

  16. Jason Boxman

    I have to admit, it’s even more offensive to read than the parts I heard aloud. I cringed every time “marketplace” came up. How disgusting.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I caught an ad yesterday for the Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor in Virginia, and admittedly, its a bit of a victory lap considering his GOP opponent makes the GOP nominee for governor look like a hippy. The ad was simply repulsive. Oh sure it would appeal to people in passing, but these were his promises:

      “Invest in education” -Already he is framing education as a profit making venture.

      “Attract good jobs” -Its not about making existing jobs more bearable or promoting internal growth but about bringing outsiders to help the little savages.

      “make sure our budgets are balanced” -I can’t think of any promise more irritating. Every state budget is “balanced” because the state can’t print money will accept. No one mentions the state does buy and sell bonds. Every politician does this, and its complete and utter tripe.

      Of course, he did publicly play footsie with the GOP and held discussions about joining the GOP caucus and giving the GOP outright control of the state senate which largely hinges on two state Senators who could leave us at any moment. This is the Democratic Party’s candidate for Lt. Governor. At least, he won’t be in the state Senate on a daily basis.

  17. scraping_by

    “A tremendous, unheard of gift to Obama, since otherwise the Marketplace Launch clusterfaak would have been front page news for the last three weeks. Like I said, I hate to deploy “the party of stupid”…. Could the Republican’s oppo have been so poor that they actually believed the administration’s assurances that all was well?!?!”

    It may be foily, but I’ve noted several times the agreement of the Well-Meaning Dolt and the Scary Clowns. They agree on who should benefit and who should pay for it, with a dash of groundless snobbery thrown in.

    The Tea Party actually did this during the initial debate. They were organized to create disruptions at district meetings for Congresscritters, and for a wonder, no one spoke about single payer. We all just watched old women getting punched.

    An interesting take on the idea of ‘controlled opposition.’

  18. Brooklin Bridge

    Obama is contemptuous of those he’s betraying and even more contemptuous of having to pander to complaints about software to sign up such an ungrateful herd of retards. As far as he’s concerned, cattle prods would be far more appropriate.

    His priorities are with the model; the power of government, the force of law, used to guarantee blood rent extraction for private industry. He’s already looking toward Social Security and Medicare, even if he won’t be in the White House when the results of his handy work come to fruition and all social safety net programs are privatized with citizens indentured by mandate to the great company store called Wall St.

    And if the health care betrayal wasn’t his signature piece of legislation to date, he wouldn’t even bother hawking it, so the necessity of doing so – the result of his contempt for the sign-up software – makes this effort a mixed blessing. On the one side, he’s happy to burnish his image any time; on the other, he’s definitely getting his hands dirty. This isn’t like the software that allows him to push a button and have someone disappear forever; what he smilingly refers to as a clean technology. Now that’s software he’ll put his heart into, along with spy software so he can keep track of those damn leakers springing up everywhere, right and left and … everywhere, everywhere damn it!

  19. MaroonBulldog

    “No one is madder than me ….”–Notice the intentional solecism (“No one is madder than I …”–but that’s just a cheap shot).

    Yes, the man is mad: very, very mad. And he seems to be angry, too.

  20. Ed S.

    Awesome commentary, Lambert.

    Reading the speech is incredibly painful. As a 30+ year veteran of BigBiz and BigConsulting, it’s a standard CYA talk for a FUBAR project.

    1) Walk back original promises and expectations
    2) Attribute poor planning and worse execution to “challenges were expected”
    3) Trumpet whatever minor or irrelevant successes continuously (Saved 150 bucks!)
    4) Highlight benefits out of context
    5) Acknowledge “challenges” but provide a “plan” to fix (a plan that will at best be “duct tape”) and
    6) Blow lots of smoke about how bright the future will be

    A few additional random thoughts:

    1) Aren’t there ANY US contracts available (built by Canadian firm, now Serco UK to help)

    2) President Obama mentions “cost savings” – is there a real savings or is “savings” a result of the purchaser receiving a subsidy

    3) Of the three individual “successes” cited, only ONE was actually uninsured (Jessica said “didn’t have for 15 years”) – the other two were getting CHEAPER insurance than they already had (and see 2 above — is it the subsidy?)

    4) What happens when the “brightest minds in Silicon Valley” (who they apparently didn’t bother to talk to in the first place)” say WTF were you thinking? Who coded this abomination? Beyond repair, start over.

    5) Finally, if you can sign up by telephone in 45 minutes for a family, then why not stress this option? If a fully loaded cost for one hour of Call Center was $60, it would cost $45/family for them to GET COVERED !!!!!!!!!!!!!! Meaning you could do all 7mm individuals for a fraction of the site development alone. But talking to a human is so 20th century.

    Hey, here’s a slogan (free of charge):

    O-care: 15 hours can save you 15 buxx! GET COVERED!!!
    What a CF.

  21. Henry

    Lambert, thank you for the analysis, which is disturbing, disheartening, infuriating, and accurate. To distract myself I picked up a copy of The Turn of the Screw (an old Laurel Edition), and read this random passage, the first my hand and eye fell on:
    “I find that I really hang back; but I must take my plunge. In going on with the record of what was hideous at Bly, I not only challenge the most liberal faith–for which I little care; but–and this is another matter–I renew what I myself suffered, I again push my way through it to the end.”
    Wishing you good health and peaceful lie downs.

  22. mrtmbrnmn

    President Obamacare has finally shown his (sleight of) hand: Crazy Eddie in the White House! Even Cal Worthington (recently deceased prototype car salesman)would at least promise to eat a bug if anyone could beat his best deal!

    1. anon y'mouse

      ‘hiah, ahm Cal Worthington and this is mah dog, Spot.”

      if you wanna better buy, go see Cal.

      go see cal, go see cal, go see cal….

      now time for Dialing for Dollars.

  23. Butch In Waukegan

    You note “citizen” was spoken 1 time, “consumer” 4 times.

    Maybe it’s just me but I find his use of “folk” particularly smarmy and paternalistic, deflecting (he believes) the reality of his Occidental/Columbia/Harvard Law/ U of Chicago background. He used it 6 times in this speech.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Folks is an interesting word (and I admit whenever I hear it I want to throw things at the radio). It seems to mean:

      1. Insiders like us

      2. Outsiders like you

      but it never means both….

  24. no salvation

    Many variations of “save you money” and “save a lot of money.” I used to save money in a savings account with a few percentage points of interest; those days are gone for good, I imagine. I’m not saving money when I’m forced to buy something I don’t want. I’m not saving money when I buy the less expensive of two alternatives. I’m spending money, and my savings are reduced. I don’t have a cell phone or a cell phone bill, I don’t have a cable service or a cable bill, I despise his comparisons to those things in pitching a deal. He’s an appalling salesman. He reminds me of a meth mouth duo selling steaks from a van who pulled into my driveway one day shouting, “You want a deal, you want a good deal?” I didn’t want their deal and I don’t want his.

    1. jrs

      Even on the cell phone at best he’s probably assuming you have some ritzy smartphone plan, not say a prepaid phone.

    2. jrs

      As for cable, Micheal Pollan told me to spend the money on organic and sustainable food instead. And with the healthcare system in this country, that seems the only decent health insurance many of us will have pretty soon.

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