The Daily Debate - 11/20/2013

By Robert Tracinski

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November 20, 2013

1. VaporCare

2. Dispatches


1. VaporCare

In Silicon Valley, they coined the term "vaporware" to refer to companies that announce the upcoming launch of new software that somehow never appears. This can happen for a variety of reasons, from technical failures and changes in the market to shadier practices: luring investors with false promises, or discouraging upstart competitors from entering a field.

Now those dishonest practices have apparently been adopted by the Obama administration on a huge scale.

Take the case of a woman whose letter to Obama, thanking him for the inexpensive health insurance she was able to buy under ObamaCare, was read by the president at a press conference touting the launch of ObamaCare. Turns out she spoke too soon.

"Jessica Sanford, the Federal Way
woman who got a shout-out from President Obama last
month with her fan letter for the Affordable Care Act, got
a rather rude awakening last week. Turns out she doesn't
qualify for a tax credit after all.

"At least that's what the
letter said that she got from the state. Now she says her
dream of affordable health insurance has gone poof. She
can't afford it. She'll have to go without. 'I'm really terribly
embarrassed,' she says. 'It has completely turned around
on me. I mean, completely.'

"Chalk it up to a bollixed-up
state website that apparently still has major problems.
Originally it said Sanford and her child would get a
whopping tax credit that would reduce their total premium
to $169 a month. Now the state is telling her it goofed–twice–and she has to pay full ticket."

Ms. Sanford found out that she made the mistake of trying to be self-supporting and productive—just a little bit too productive to qualify for ObamaCare's subsidies. You know how we had to pass ObamaCare to find out what's in it? One thing we're finding is that ObamaCare is a big fat middle finger to the middle class, who are discovering that they are the ones who are expected to pay inflated premiums to subsidize the care of everyone who makes a dollar less than they do.

But this is just the beginning. The latest revelation is that, even if the front end of the site is up and working soon—and that's a big "if"—the back end of the site, including the entire payment system, hasn't been built yet. No, really.

"The revelation came out of questioning of [Henry Chao, deputy chief information officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] by Rep. Cory Gardner (R., Colo.). Gardner was trying to figure out how much of the IT infrastructure around the federal insurance exchange had been completed. 'Well, how much do we have to build today, still? What do we need to build? 50 percent? 40 percent? 30 percent?' Chao replied, 'I think it's just an approximation—we're probably sitting between 60 and 70 percent because we still have to build…the payment systems to make payments to insurers in January.'...

"Apparently, the accounting systems and payment systems that protect taxpayers against waste, fraud, and abuse—systems that also ensure that insurers get paid, and that premium subsidies are accurately doled out—have not yet been built.

"It's worth noting that, technically, you haven't enrolled in a health insurance policy until the insurer has collected the first premium from the beneficiary. If the payment systems have not yet been built, it's not clear how many people, then, have actually enrolled on the exchanges."

But the most astonishing quote is Chao's response when he was asked how the as-yet-unbuilt systems will be tested: "In the same exact manner we tested everything else." Because we all know how well that worked out.

I have never been a believer in the competence of government, but this goes beyond the wildest imaginings of the most jaded Tea Partier.

This means that the whole ObamaCare system, including the 25,000 or so who have been told they have already enrolled on the federal exchanges, is still just vaporware.

This also means that the disaster so far is just the beginning and there is a whole new wave of website failures to come

As the government-sponsored insurance market dissolves, perhaps we should switch from calling it ObamaCare to calling it VaporCare.


2. Dispatches

I like my plan, but I can't keep it.

Arne Duncan shows the default mode for this administration: incompetence masked by arrogant paternalism. The real news: "You think the Obamacare implementation is bad? The implementation of the Common Core is far worse." The same administration that messed up your health care is also messing up your kids' schools.

Megan McArdle sums up President Obama's attempted "fix" of ObamaCare: "Obama's position on the law seems to be that it's his law, and therefore the law is whatever he and his appointees say it is."

Things immigrants couldn't believe about America until they came here.

A belated retraction of an editorial panning Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

The Gettysburg Address rendered in PowerPoint. The back of an envelope is looking pretty good by comparison.


—Robert Tracinski

The Daily Debate

edited by Robert Tracinski

Brought to you by RealClearPolitics.

Robert Tracinski is also editor of The Tracinski Letter.

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