The news that President Obama’s approval ratings has been consistently dropping to an all-time low: 42% at the end of October and 39% yesterday (if Gallup is to be trusted), is very disturbing. There is no doubt that these ratings are heavily influenced by the problems with the launch of Obamacare, more precisely those having to do with the government’s healthcare exchanges website.
President Obama is the top boss, so there is no denying that he is ultimately responsible for what has happened. But the road to “ultimately” is long, complicated and heavily laden with GOP mines.
“It is a mess and there’s no sugarcoating it, and people shouldn’t sugarcoat that,” says Jay Angoff, who formerly ran the health exchange program for the Department of Health and Human Services. “On the other hand, people should remember that those who are in charge of the money HHS needs to implement the federal exchange are dedicated to the destruction of the federal exchange, and the destruction of the Affordable Care Act.”
Which led to the first big problem — money. When it became clear that HHS would need more money to build the federal exchange than had been allocated in the original law, Republicans in Congress refused to provide it.
As a result, says Angoff, officials “had to scrape together money from various offices within HHS to build the federal exchange.”
Then this from The Atlantic Wire,
Republicans aren’t to blame for the glitchy site, but federal administrators were so worried about the GOP attacking the healthcare law that they implemented in under a veil of secrecy. As The Washington Post reported this weekend, officials delayed key regulations and orders to circumvent possible Republican opposition.
“You’re basically trying to build a complicated building in a war zone, because the Republicans are lobbing bombs at us,” an anonymous White House official told the Post. Following that logic, Healthcare.gov is like skyscraper built in secrecy and missing an elevator. The administration managed to keep details hidden from Republicans, but also from everyone else.
Finally, this very informative article written by The Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky,
All across the country, Republican governors and insurance commissioners have actively and directly blocked efforts to make the law work. In August, the Obama administration announced that it had awarded contracts to 105 “navigators” to help guide people through their new predicaments and options. There were local health-care providers, community groups, Planned Parenthood outposts, and even business groups. Again—people and groups given the job, under an existing federal law, to help people understand that law.
What has happened, predictably, is that in at least 17 states where Republicans are in charge, a variety of roadblocks has been thrown in front of these folks. In Indiana, they were required to pay fees of $175. In Florida, which under Governor Rick Scott (who knows a thing or two about how to game the health-care system, you may recall) has been probably the most aggressive state of all here, the health department ruled that local public-health offices can’t have navigators on their premises (interesting, because local public health offices tend to be where uninsured people hang out).
In West Virginia, Utah, Pennsylvania, and other states, grantees have said no thanks and returned the dough after statewide GOP elected officials started getting in their faces and asking lots of questions about how they operate and what they planned to do. Tennessee issued “emergency rules” requiring their employees to be fingerprinted and undergo background checks.
America, 2013: No background checks to buy assault weapons. But you damn well better not try to enroll someone in health care.
About a year ago, a friend of mine who is also a Democrat and who also loves President Obama asked me if I really thought that he was doing a good job. I answered that there was no doubt in my mind, even more so when considering the rabid opposition and obstruction that he has faced.
Yes, he has made some mistakes. He is a flawed human being like we all are, and thus a flawed President. But at no point have his mistakes been those of intention. Contrast that to the GOP whose intention to erase W. Bush’s disastrous presidency by making his successor look worse— at any cost—has resulted in serious damage to our political process, to the unity of our nation, and worse, to the American people.
In view of the fact that President Obama has been furiously prevented from doing a much better job, even an excellent job, it is not surprising that his approval rating is so low. It is, however, mind-blowingly, heartbreakingly shocking to see everything that the GOP has done to achieve this and, decidedly, a shame.