President Barack Obama is distancing himself from the critical task of repairing his crippled Obamacare website so he can return to the campaign trail.
“The President is a very interested observer in this [repair] process [and] is being regularly updated on it, and is holding that team accountable for results,” Josh Earnest, his deputy press secretary told reporters Oct. 25, while flying with the president to three fund-raisers in New York.
Obama’s departure Friday from the White House illustrates his focus on electoral and ideological gains for progressives, rather than on economic and practical gains for actual Americans.
Obama’s aides say neither he nor they paid enough attention to the website development program during the summer to realize the site, HealthCare.gov, would crash once it was put online. So far, they have repeatedly refused to explain Obama’s management failure.
In the last few weeks, he’s also distanced himself from the budget impasse that temporarily shut down part of the federal government. He’s walked away from upcoming budget negotiations with the elected GOP majority in the House, from the high-stakes national debate over immigration, and from the unfolding crash of his Middle East Foreign policy.
He’s also kept his distance from economic policy. In September, the nation added fewer jobs than it added workers.
Obama’s effort to revive the Obamacare software is now being run by Jeff Zients, a former management consultant at Bain & Company. “Jeff and his team are responsible for sort of the day-to-day monitoring of all this,” Earnest said about the rushed effort to repair the crippled website.
The website’s failed Oct. 1 rollout has crippled Obama’s primary political prize — establishing federal control over the industry that helps the nation’s 330 million citizens manage their health and lives.
Obama did stage a high-profile but widely criticized appeal Monday in the Rose Garden, asking the public to have patience while the website is rebuilt. The criticism of his “ShamWow” speech, during which the president of the United States was reduced to repeating an 800 number for citizens to buy their legally required health insurance, stung.
“Some people have poked fun at me this week for sounding like an insurance salesman… that’s okay. I’d still be out there championing this law even if the website were perfect,” Obama said in his Oct. 26 weekly address.
While he champions Obamacare, he’s left the task of resurrecting his primary legacy to others. “We are going to get it working as smoothly as it’s supposed to. We’ve got people working overtime, 24/7, to boost capacity and address these problems, every single day,” he said in the weekly address.
The president’s weekend speech, unsurprisingly, included a political pitch tuned for the 2014 election. “We did [create Obamacare] to cement the principle that in this country, the security of health care is not a privilege for a fortunate few, but a right for every one of us to enjoy,” he claimed.