There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don't know.And now that Obama administration flacks are flailing like mad against the fluttering flustercuck that is the Healthcare.Gov website, those trusty word salad spinners are spinning to the fullest extent of the news cycle. Only problem is, the little spinners trying to defend their virtual health insurance Laundromat of a website are a tad unbalanced in their own logic. Their spin is not going at all smoothly. Thumps abound as spittle flies.
The Spinner-in-Chief himself is being forced to clunk along. From his latest heavy duty load cycle:
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 most states, hasn't worked as smoothly as it was supposed to work, (putting it self-servingly and mildly) and the number of people who've visited the site has been overwhelming, (too many towels stuffed in the low capacity delicate cycle?) which has aggravated some of these underlying problems. (the machine was designed only for low-suds detergent!). Despite all that, thousands of people are signing up and saving money as we speak. (Keep feeding the broken machine your quarters and maybe it'll fix itself) Many Americans with a preexisting condition, like Janice, are discovering that they can finally get health insurance like everybody else. (um.... how about those 15 million uninsured people not included in "everybody else." How about the majority of poor and minority women being denied admission to the health insurance washateria?)
As Ezra Klein points out,
The best news for Obamacare is that almost everyone -- including the Obama administration -- realizes the crucial online portal is currently a disaster.
That's not a universally held view. Salon's Joan Walsh chides those reporting on the law's failure, arguing that the law's problems "are real, and disturbing, and must be fixed asap," but "the president knows that without my telling him."
Actually, that's been the problem: President Obama didn't know that. Nor did White House chief of staff Denis McDonough. Nor did Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who will be testifying to that fact next week.
It would be one thing if Obamacare's problems had been unknowable. But they weren't. Staff at HHS and CMS saw this coming for months. Insurance companies began predicting a mess long ago. But the bad news was shaded and spun as it made its way up the chain of command. The alarming failures seen in the (inadequate) load tests were written off as bugs that would soon be fixed.Klein says that even staffers who knew about the knowns were terrified to speak out about them. He and other reporters "got a wall of denials" on problems, and the White House seemed to believe its own denials.
This is what happens when the most transparent administration in history has a program in place called Insider Threat. As McClatchy Newspapers revealed last summer, Obama has mandated that all federal government employees spy on each other and report their co-workers for incipient or suspected whistleblowing, or even the voicing of concerns that something in the bureaucracy might not be working correctly. Disgruntlement on the job is listed among the red flags. Those staffers Klein talks about who knew about the unknowns of the Obamacare website were terrified to speak up simply because they're all terrified about losing their jobs for the crime of facing reality and for fear of bursting Obama's sacrosanct bubble.
The Ministry of Fear operating at the very highest levels of the government is seriously hampering the ability of American consumers to shop for health insurance product. Therefore, the president seriously needs to get his act together and give another speech about the need to balance our rights to become victims of health insurance predators with his need to look good.