With about 4-1/2 months remaining before early voting begins in the the 2014 elections, three sets of Obamacare-related campaigns are in full gear. The first is seen in electoral contests around the country. The second is a campaign of disinformation and no information being conducted by the Obama administration and its Department of Health and Human Services. The third is a concerted establishment press effort to give cover to Democratic Party candidates no matter what position they take on Obamacare, and to minimize the exposure the administration's deliberate acts of non-transparency receive.
All three campaigns came together in a Monday morning Associated Press report by Bill Barrow and Josh "Lapdog" Lederman. The two reporters avoided any mention of the fact that the administration has decided to "halt" monthly Obamacare enrollment reporting, while giving cover to Democratic Senate candidates around the country who haven't yet figured out how much distance to put between themselves, Obamacare, and President Barack Obama himself (bolds are mine throughout this post):
The press continues its disinterested fiddling while the royal mess known as Obamacare burns through money and exhausts the patience of those attempting any kind of oversight.
One of the more obvious examples of this is how the Washington Post's May 17 story on errors in calculating Obamacare subsidies has gone absolutely nowhere. About one-third of the 20 results returned in a Google News search on "healthcare subsidies" (not in quotes) at 11 p.m. ET Friday evening were partial reprints or rewrites of the original story by WaPo reporters Amy Goldstein and Sandhya Somashekhar. Most of the remaining results were from center-right outlets, while a few came from medical sites. The results didn't change much when searching on "health care" instead of "healthcare." What the WaPo pair reported is a breathtaking cacophony of incompetence which, as Heritage noted last year, won't even "solve" itself when Obamacare enrollees file their 2014 tax returns. Goldstein and Somashekhar also missed an opportunity to make a fundamental point, which is that everyone who has enrolled has some exposure.
PORTSTEWART, Northern Ireland -- President Obama Wednesday replayed a familiar scenario when dealing with scandal, in this case delays for treatment, deaths, alleged cover-ups and other acts of malfeasance reported at Veterans Administration hospitals in the United States: first express outrage, next announce an investigation and then say he won't comment on the scandal until the results of the investigation are in, promising people will be held "accountable," if they violated the law. Good luck with that.
Meanwhile, critics are using the VA scandal to indict Obamacare. They believe what is occurring at VA hospitals is a preview of coming destruction should the U.S. government move beyond meddling in health insurance into a full-scale takeover of the entire health care system.
These critics need only look across the Atlantic at the United Kingdom's crumbling National Health Service (NHS) as a glaring example of the dysfunction that results when government runs health care. For years, as is the case with VA hospitals, NHS horror stories have abounded, reported dutifully by the British press. These include neglect of elderly patients, long waiting times (like the VA) to see a doctor and longer waits for necessary surgery, which the government in some cases denies based on cost, age of patient and unusually high numbers of deaths at some hospitals.
The VA could learn from what occurred at Hinchingbrooke hospital in Cambridgeshire, England. As reported by the Daily Mail, as recently as two years ago, Hinchingbrooke had a deficit of $16.8 million a year; it ranked 102nd in the country in admission waiting time; charged $67 to park, with fines for overstaying, and in what sounds like the punch line to a joke, took one week to change a light bulb.
Today, the hospital is due to break even. A surplus is expected next year. Hinchingbrooke has zoomed up in ranking to number 20 in the country in waiting time. Parking now costs $4.21 with fines scrapped. Minor maintenance problems are dealt with in one day.
How was Hinchingbrooke, an NHS hospital, miraculously transformed? It was turned over to a private firm. Once described as a "basket case," the hospital is now ranked number one in patient satisfaction.
A key to its healing, reports The Daily Mail, was "loosening the grip of managers and accountants." A majority of board members, once bean counters and bureaucrats, are now clinicians. "Doctors, nurses and admin(istrative) staff have also been put into small groups which have representatives who meet senior managers twice a month" to discuss problems. Patients are promised any complaints will be resolved within three weeks.
The Hinchingbrooke example should teach the VA something about privatization and what can happen when government tries to run a nation's entire health care system. Veterans who face long waits, or suffer from life-threatening conditions, should receive vouchers so they can be treated at private hospitals. Since, according to the White House, President Obama only "learned about" the VA scandal from TV news reports (though he spoke about them during the 2008 presidential campaign and was critical of President Bush for not fixing them), Congress must take the lead in offering treatment alternatives to veterans. Again, lack of money isn't the problem. Bureaucracy and incompetence are the problems.
Reforming VA hospitals should be a 2016 campaign theme all presidential candidates must address and they must then offer specific solutions. A quasi-government-private approach might work. It couldn't be worse than the current system.
The phrase uttered by President Abraham Lincoln, which is the motto of the Veterans Administration, must always be uppermost in our minds: "To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan."
Sadly, that goal is not being met. It must be. We owe veterans (and those we memorialize next Monday) our freedom. Perhaps what happened at Hinchingbrooke Hospital can guide the VA and veterans to a better future.
The Washington Post's Jenna Johnson reported yet another black mark against Maryland's rollout of ObamaCare. It seems the "board that oversees Maryland's troubled health insurance marketplace repeatedly violated a state law that requires such groups to fully explain their reasons for meeting behind closed doors" according to a ruling issued Tuesday by the Maryland Open Meetings Compliance Board.
During the Obama administration, the Associated Press has annually gone through the motions of noting its lack of transparency in responding to Freedom of Information Act requests. In March, its coverage of 2013 FOIA results led with the following sentence: "The Obama administration more often than ever censored government files or outright denied access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, according to a new analysis of federal data." Then everyone went back to work defending the administration against the information seekers.
Part of that defense includes mischaracterizing the legal hurdles those who file FOIA requests must overcome to get the administration to do what it is legally required to do right off the bat. Three sentences from recent coverage of Judicial Watch's attempts to pry information out of the State Department will make my point.
"Faith first, government second for GOP candidate," blares a teaser headline on MSNBC.com. They say that like it's a bad thing.
Of course, to MSNBC it is, when religious freedom objections stand opposed to ObamaCare, so MSNBC.com writer Morgan Whitaker sought to explain to Lean Forward partisans all the ways that Ben Sasse is supposedly a danger to civil society, including a ludicrous suggestion that his views could allow for establishment of Sharia law (excerpt below; emphasis mine):
The government is paying private contractor Serco $1.2 billion over five years — and likely more, as will be seen later — to process paper Obamacare applications. In turn, according to a report by television station KMOV, Serco has hired and continues to pay a reported 1,800 workers who have virtually no work to do.
Massive waste like this should develop into a national story and create a journalistic swarm. If it does, it will be unusual, because the press has been avoiding stories which make President Barack Obama's "signature accomplishment" of state-controlled health care look bad like the plague. We'll see if it's different this time. The KMOV report follows the jump (HT Gateway Pundit's Progressives Today blog):
The USA Today-Pew Research Center poll conducted April 23-27, found strong frustration by respondents with President Obama and Democrats, with 65 percent of Americans "want[ing] the president elected in 2016 to pursue different policies and programs than the Obama administration." What's more, "registered voters are inclined to support the Republican candidate over the Democrat in their congressional district by 47%-43%. Yes, "[t]hat edge may seem small," Page and Breitman conceded, but (emphasis mine):
"The Vatican canonized two new saints last week. And President Obama was disappointed to learn he wasn't one of them."
Other liberals who didn't have a prayer of avoiding Jodi Miller's acerbic wit this week include Jon Stewart, Bill Clinton, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). To watch the May 2 edition of NewsBusted, click play on the embed below the page break. To get NewsBusted delivered to your email inbox, click here. To subscribe to NewsBusted on YouTube visit here.
Much like their English-language counterparts, the flagship evening news programs of the Univision and Telemundo television networks found plenty of time to cover the scandal over racism that rocked Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, but no time to devote to news developments which cast President Obama and his administration in a negative light.
Over the course of four days between April 28 and May 1, Noticiero Univision and Noticiero Telemundo dedicated 16 minutes and 33 seconds of airtime to Donald Sterling and the future of the Los Angeles basketball franchise, but evidently didn’t consider the President’s worse-ever popularity poll numbers, the sharp decline in U.S. economic growth, Secretary of State John Kerry’s ill-considered remarks against Israel or fresh, incriminating White House emails twisting the facts about the attack against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi to be worth even a single second of news coverage.
The May-June edition of Politico magazine is out, complete with what it boasts is "the most comprehensive survey yet of [the] unique group of journalists" who comprise the White House press corps. The picture painted by the honest answers therein are not altogether flattering. For instance, we see just how much a self-congratulatory, conventional wisdom-spewing echo-chamber the group is with these two questions (see screen captures below the fold):
The supposed newspaper of record for the nation's capital did not find fit to print a story this morning on the newly-released White House Benghazi emails and the White House's fevered attempt to dismiss the story.
When several members of Congress set out in the early 1990s to improve fiscal reporting and internal controls in the federal government, one thing they certainly had a right to expect is that the press would report on lapses as embarrassments, and that otherwise nonchalant or reluctant bureaucrats would figure out that it would be in their best interest to tighten their ships. It hasn't happened, largely because the press quickly got bored, enabling the bureaucrats to thumb their noses at those who called them out for weak reporting or control violations.
To name just one glaring example: Concerning the Internal Revenue Service, in August of last year, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration happily reported "the downgrade of the information security material weakness to a significant deficiency during the Fiscal Year 2012 financial statement audit," and that "the IRS removed it from the December 31, 2012, remediation plan" (that's bureaucratese for "finally solved the problem") — 19 years after it was first identified in 1993. In that context, let's look at an outrageous situation at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
You know things are bad when you can't wait for the return of a TV character to demonstrate what resolve and leadership really look like. Yes, after a four-year hiatus, the show "24," featuring Jack Bauer (played by Kiefer Sutherland), returns May 5 to the Fox network.
Bauer displays many of the traits once found in, or at least expected of, American presidents and top military leaders. He doesn't waffle or wiggle; neither does he negotiate. He wins. If you think I am about to draw a contrast between Bauer and the current president of the United States you are right.
If there's a prize for most words spent in Obamacare avoidance, NBC News's Martha C. White is definitely in the running.
White managed to burn through almost 40 paragraphs and nearly 1,600 words in a report carried at CNBC on the all-time record number of workers employed by temporary help services. But she somehow managed to completely avoid mentioning Obamacare, which used to be known as the Affordable Care Act until President Obama and his Health and Human Services regulators made 40 changes to the law originally passed by Congress, some of which directly contradict the original law's language. The closest she came was noting that using temps "lets companies avoid the cost of providing benefits like health insurance" — which has always been the case, except that health insurance is and will continue to be a lot more expensive, giving companies even more incentive to avoid adding to their own payrolls. Excerpts follow the jump.
Apart from gutting America's military, our standing in the world, our fiscal stability, the economy, the office of the presidency, conventional energy sources, the free market and religious liberty, Obama has little to boast about other than Obamacare, so let him go for it.
Yes, let him gloat, because the more he bloviates in defense of the indefensible — the more he spins the unspinnable — the more damage he'll do to the cause he's trying to promote: the election of Democratic congressmen in November.
David Nather at the Politico apparently wanted to make sure that those who don't follow the news closely see a triumphant headline ("Obama Spikes the Football") and a congratulatory opening paragraph at their computers, tablets, and smartphones.
Sure, the Politico reporter gradually threw in all kinds of qualifications after that, but his mission is largely accomplished: Cause those who don't click through to believe that Obamacare is functioning as intended, and — especially in the headline — communicate the message that the debate about the statist health regime's existence is really over. He can say that he did his job while at the same time keeping most people away from the more complicated reality. In that sense, Nather is right there with reporters at ABC and CBS who claim without verifiable evidence, as Rich Noyes at NewsBusters noted earlier this afternoon, that the program has achieved "a major milestone." Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine):
It's time once again for NewsBusted. Click the play button in the embed below the page break to watch NewsBusted's Jodi Miller skewer Hillary Clinton, ObamaCare, and CBS News. To get be sure NewsBusted in your inbox by going here. To subscribe at YouTube, click here.
If government regulation was literally made of red tape, adhesive manufacturers would be making a killing in the Obama economy.
Yesterday the Wall Street Journal editorial board noted how the president is a "Regulator Without Peer," citing analysis by Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, who has a forthcoming annual review of federal regs, "Ten Thousand Commandments" slated to be unveiled on April 29 [click here for the 2013 study]. Read an excerpt of the WSJ's editorial below the page break, and leave us your thoughts on this or anything else on your mind in the comments thread (emphasis mine):
Dictionary.com offers two definitions for scapegoat: "1. A person or group made to bear the blame for others or to suffer in their place; 2. Chiefly biblical. A goat let loose in the wilderness on Yom Kippur after the high priest symbolically laid the sins of the people on its head. Lev. 16:8,10,26."
Both definitions seem to fit last week's announcement of the "resignation" of Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services, who presided over the disastrous rollout of the government's website, healthcare.gov, which was supposed to provide easy access for people who wished to sign up for Obamacare.
In a Tuesday story which appears to have been handed to it on a silver platter, and which the rest of the establishment press seems uninterested in spreading (given that searches at 11:45 p.m. Tuesday at the Associated Press and at Politico returned nothing relevant), the New York Times has reported that the Census Bureau "is changing its annual survey so thoroughly that it will be difficult to measure the effects of President Obama’s health care law in the next report, due this fall."
It took Times reporter Robert Pear 15 paragraphs to tell readers that measurement and reporting under the new survey design will be so supposedly difficult that "the agency was not planning to release coverage data from early this year in its next report." That statement indicates that the government will not disclose anything about how the rollout of Obamacare really affected the number of uninsured Americans — even under the new methodology — before this fall's elections. Everyone together now, say "How convenient."
"Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz just signed a $1.5-million deal to write a book. Hold on… This just in: Even though the Cruz book has yet to be written, the New York Times just gave it a bad review."
ObamaCare, John McCain and the Chicago Cubs also got a ribbing in the latest edition of NewsBusted, NewsBusters' original Web comedy short, which you can watch in the embed below the page break. To sign up to get NewsBusted fresh to your inbox, click here. To subscribe to the NewsBusted channel at YouTube, visit youtube.com/NewsBusted.
Though he didn't quite get to the "Shut up, he said" threshold, Politico's David Nather, in a Tuesday tome, argued that HealthCare.gov allegedly crossing the 7 million enrollment threshold leaves opponents blubbering, and supports the argument "that government can still solve big social problems" and is "a wake-up call for Republicans and conservatives."
It's as if Nather believes — and maybe he does, in which case he's woefully ignorant — that not achieving the enrollment target is about the only potential problem with HealthCare.gov. Uh, not exactly. Just off the top of my head, there's the lack of site security, the absence of back-office interaction with insurance carriers, miscalculations of subsidies, the system's outrageous cost, and the complete inability of enrollees to add, change or delete elements of what they submitted to correct inadvertent errors or reflect changes in their life circumstances. I'm sure that only scratches the surface. Excerpts from Nather's nattering follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):
“Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon had some tough words for ObamaCare following the deadline for people to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
Speaking on Tuesday April 1, Fallon joked that regarding the 7 million Americans that have signed up for health insurance, “It's amazing what you can achieve when you make something mandatory and fine people if they don't do it and then keep extending the deadline for months.” [See video below.]
Having broken down the numbers by issue, Oliver-Méndez observed that the bias was particularly stark on the issues of health care and poverty, with Univision and Telemundo reporters and anchors heavily promoting liberal/Democratic messaging on ObamaCare and "income inequality." [watch Oliver-Méndez's presentation below the page break]
The ObamaCare health care exchange website that Maryland designed is such a monstrous failure that the state government is pulling its plug tomorrow and replacing it with a website which essentially mimics the architecture of the actually-functional Connecticut state exchange. In the process, Maryland taxpayers have seen $125.5 million of their hard-earned tax dollars flushed down the drain by 2016 president hopeful Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and his protege, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, whom O'Malley tapped as his ObamaCare point man, and who is pursuing the Democratic nomination for governor this June.
The Associated Press has a breaking news update: If you want to apply for Obamacare at HealthCare.gov today and you've never set up an account, forget about doing so for the time being.
The update is is running under this morning's old headline ("HEALTH CARE WEBSITE STUMBLES ON LAST DAY"), begging the question as to when a "stumble" turns into "I've fallen and I can't get up" (HT to several tweeters):
The Obamacare-loving press spares no effort in excusing and minimizing the scheme's operational, systemic, and law-based failures.
Six months after launch, HealthCare.gov still isn't functioning as intended. In fact, as of 8:47 a.m. this morning, the time stamp on an Associated Press report (also saved here for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes) by chief wire service Obamacare defender Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, the web site wasn't functioning at all. Did the AP reporter tell readers the system had crashed, or was down? Oh heck no (bolds are mine):