- Obama not worried about Ebola at upcoming African summit in D.C.
- Obama: ‘We tortured some folks’ after 9/11
- Obama administration asked whole D.C. Circuit to take on major Obamacare case
- Mark Levin: Topple GOP leadership or country will ‘unravel’
- Massachusetts to let police chief deny gun buys to those deemed unfit
- John Kerry condemns attack on Israeli soldiers, kidnapping
- U.S. starts to evacuate American Ebola patients from West Africa: Report
- Geraldo slammed as ‘dummy’ for backing Clinton’s bin Laden claim
- Israeli spokesman: No need to debate who broke the cease-fire
- 35 Palestinians killed; Israeli officer missing
Heckuva job, Obama: President excuses long list of scandals and blunders
Question of the Day
The list of scandals and blunders in the Obama administration is long, but the roster of people who have been fired by President Obama for screwing up is strikingly short.
From Benghazi to the Internal Revenue Service to the Fast and Furious gun-running furor in the Justice Department, the president has been loathe to hold high-level aides accountable for major bungling.
The latest example is the president’s backing of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, whose agency mismanaged the crucial launch of the HealthCare.gov website for people to sign up for insurance under Obamacare. In the program’s first three weeks, the examples of consumers who were unable to enroll in the poorly designed system have grown exponentially, threatening the program’s long-term viability.
The cost to taxpayers has risen along with the blundering. CGI Federal, a U.S. subsidiary of the Canadian firm CGI Group, received a no-bid contract with a base value of $55.7 million in 2011 to develop the website. Since then, the potential cost has risen to $292 million, although serious problems remain.
Mr. Obama will hold an event at the White House on Monday to promote the health care program. House Republicans will conduct a hearing Thursday to investigate the reasons for the system’s early failures.
A White House official said Sunday that Mr. Obama “will directly address the technical problems with HealthCare.gov — troubles that he and his team find unacceptable.” The official said the president will remind the public that “the health care law is about much more than just a website — it’s about finally offering millions of Americans the health care security they deserve and giving new benefits and rights to those who have coverage today.”
If ever there were a government job to carry out with care, it’s the rollout of a program named informally for the president himself. Yet Mr. Obama has resisted calls to hold Mrs. Sebelius — or anyone else — accountable for the failure.
“Even Democrats believe that someone should be taken to the woodshed for Obamacare’s failures,” said Republican strategist Ron Bonjean. “The president has been far too kind to those who aren’t doing their jobs because he has not yet felt political pressure to take action. Now that the shutdown has passed, the pressure will grow for him to make sure someone is accountable.”
But in a case of seeming willful denial, the White House emailed its Daily Snapshot update to supporters Friday with the good-news headline, “Americans are Signing Up for Obamacare.” That prompted a spokesman for House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, to reply simply, “LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL.”
White House press secretary Jay Carney was careful to say last week that Mr. Obama is focused “right now” on making sure that HHS fixes the program, leaving open speculation that Mrs. Sebelius or other officials would be removed from their posts.
“The accountability the president seeks right now is the accountability that comes from making the system better, improving the process for consumers, fixing the problems that have arisen, and making sure that millions of Americans for whom this program was created are getting the benefits that it provides,” Mr. Carney said.
All presidents, fearing an erosion of public support, dislike admitting mistakes. President George W. Bush was mocked widely for praising Michael D. Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, for his agency’s response to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 with the infamous comment, “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.” Mr. Brown resigned a few days later.
Critics see a pattern in Mr. Obama’s management style of avoiding punishment. The president’s casual approach can be summed up in an observation of former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, one that Mr. Obama sometimes likes to quote: “One thing I can guarantee you is that at this moment, somewhere, somehow, somebody in the federal government is screwing up.”
Even during the IRS scandal this year, in which the agency acknowledged targeting tea party groups for extra scrutiny, the president’s executive actions didn’t amount to much housecleaning. Mr. Obama ordered Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to obtain the resignation of acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller, who left May 15. Mr. Miller’s last day in the post would have been June 8, and most of the problems occurred before he took the helm. Before resigning, Mr. Miller intended to return to his job as a deputy commissioner at the agency.
Lois G. Lerner resigned as head of the IRS exempt-organizations division in September, four months after the scandal broke.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Dave Boyer is a White House correspondent for The Washington Times. A native of Allentown, Pa., Boyer worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer from 2002 to 2011 and also has covered Congress for the Times. He is a graduate of Penn State University. Boyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Obama: 'We tortured some folks' after 9/11
- Obama taunts GOP: Border bill 'going nowhere'
- Obama, Putin speak about Ukraine, peace deal
- Obama pushes Hamas to release Israeli hostage
- Obama not worried about Ebola at upcoming African summit in D.C.
Latest Blog Entries
- Obama and Boehner congratulate U.S. men's hockey on win over Russia
- Americans say income gap will shrink if government butts out, poll shows
- WH spokesman Jay Carney recognizes beard's 'insufficiency,' shaves it off
- Obama misses deadline again on budget
- Biden burns rubber in driveway, laments road restrictions
TWT Video Picks
By Orrin G. Hatch
Procedural changes impede the chamber's traditional deliberative function
- House GOP resurrects border bill, predicts successful Friday vote
- Border agents cleared of civil rights complaints from illegal immigrant children
- Ben Carson takes major step toward presidential campaign
- U.N. condemns Israel, U.S. for not sharing Iron Dome with Hamas
- Obama military strategy too weak for future security, panel reports
- Porn-surfing feds blame boredom, lack of work for misbehavior
- Feds raid S.C. home to seize Land Rover in EPA emission-control crackdown
- CRUZ: A tale of two hospitals: One in Israel, one in Gaza
- Ted Nugent slams 'lying freaks' at liberal media: I'm 'doing God's work'
- ON THE RUN: Competition for Redskins backup running back is heating up
Top 10 U.S. military helicopters
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors