This is both less and more than it sounds.
Two U.S. government officials warned on Wednesday that the launch of new state healthcare exchanges could potentially be delayed, raising further doubts about the implementation of President Barack Obama’s signature legislation.
Alan Duncan, an auditor with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, an Internal Revenue Service agency that monitors performance, said testing the systems needed to implement the exchanges “will be difficult to complete” by the October 1 start date.
At the same hearing, Government Accountability Office official John Dicken said the amount of work the federal government needs to do in each state has yet to be determined, raising the risk of missing deadlines. He added that the federal government and the states have already missed some deadlines.
It’s less because, yes, the exchanges will be declared “finished” by October 1st. It won’t matter if the site merely consists of an online questionnaire where people can leave their basic information and get called back later by people with a tentative quote; the White House will proclaim success and pretend that this is what they intended, all along. And the media will largely go along. In short, there’s a lot of PR going on, here.
It’s also more because there is a point beyond which good PR just doesn’t matter. Imagine, for a moment, that a video game company announced that they hadn’t finished testing their game for bugs, that not every programmer has updated his or her work progress, that the project was already behind schedule – and that the program would be available on October 1st, 2013 anyway. And assume that said video game company actually did release a product on October 1st. Just how good do you think that product would be? That’s right, it would be awful. So awful that the game company wouldn’t dare release it. Alas, a video game company has more flexibility in that regard than does, say, the federal government. Obamacare is already well-hated in this country; missing the October deadline would be arguably worse than providing a horrible product. But here’s the kicker: providing a horrible product is not good. It’s certainly not enough to win the 2014 election cycle, which is what every politician and political group in Washington is actively working right now.
All in all, we’re looking at another perfect storm next year: the Democrats will be presenting the American people with a hot, steaming mess that their own agitprop will have to pretend is ambrosia. I know, I know: you’re all broken up about that, too.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
PS: I have heard some Democrats try to argue that once Obamacare goes into effect, it will be accepted in the same way that the MMA bill was accepted. Alas for that argument, passing MMA did not, for example, cause the Republican party to hemorrhage seats in the Senate and lose control of the House in the next election cycle. For that matter, MMA was not universally loathed by an entire political party, to the point where candidates ran on its appeal en masse. The Democrats have never, ever tried to make this law more palatable to Republicans – we will now pause as Democratic apologists splutter in pretend disbelief, or perhaps try fake dismissive laughter – and that is now starting to catch up with them.