Kathleen Sebelius has been pushed out of her job as head of the Department of Health and Human Services, just a short time after President Barack Obama declared Obamacare operational in an April 1 Rose Garden appearance.
The long-planned departure is not a surprise, and President Barack Obama already has her replacement lined up. She’s Sylvia Mathews Burwell, now the director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Burwell will be formally nominated Friday morning, according to the Washington Post. Burwell has no technical experience, but has worked as a Democratic appointee, manager, staffer and aide since 1992.
Sebeleius was also a Democratic operator and governor before she was given the HHS job, and eventually, task of managing the complex website for Obama’s health-care network, Obamacare.
She failed at that task disastrously, partly because neither she nor the president established a top-level program manager with enough presidential clout to enforce cooperation among multiple rival government agencies. The development of the software was also crippled by president’s policy of delaying unpopular but critical decisions until after the 2012 election.
Obama’s deputies shoved the blame onto Sebelius, and her departure marks her as the Obamacare scapegoat.
On April 1, when officials were able to claim 7 million sign-ups for Obamacare, the president staged an p.r. event in the White House’s Rose Garden to declare victory. “The debate over repealing this law is over. The Affordable Care Act is here to stay,” he insisted.
Since then, more polls show the program remains very unpopular, and industry forecasts suggest it will cost more than promised and provide health-care service to fewer people than expected.
Sebelius is a Democrat, and the party will likely find a sinecure for her at a university or a progressive think-tank.