It is refreshing to see journalists — especially liberal-leaning ones — tell the truth about the “launch” of Healthcare.gov. (Note: I warned about this potential disaster back in March — and so did lots of others.)
For example, Ezra Klein was on Morning Joe this am, discussing the seriousness of the Healthcare.gov “glitches.” If you haven’t seen it, this sobering assessment is worth watching:
But while this is refreshing, a warning for Republicans is in order: There is a danger in seizing on this story too aggressively.
Let me explain. The obvious problem for Obama is that this is both embarrassing and easily understandable. Thus, the websites are easy prey — maybe too easy for those looking to gleefully exploit a weakness.
But websites are about process. And the real problem is the substance. The “kinks” are merely a symptom of a much more dangerous disease. But symptoms can be treated and masked. And no matter how tempting it is to focus on the glitches, Republicans shouldn’t forget that.
Republicans believe a delay might cause a sort of “death spiral,” but you can’t bank on that. Most likely, sooner or later (and it may very well be later), as Obama said today, “it’s going to get fixed.” If and when the enrollment process is up and running, if the perception is that Republican objections were premised primarily on glitchy websites — that ObamaCare just wasn’t available for the people who really wanted and needed it! — well, those concerns will have been addressed.
This is not to say Republicans shouldn’t mock the technological glitches. But glitchy websites have never been the fundamental problem with ObamaCare. And just because it’s now convenient to do so doesn’t mean Republicans should pretend otherwise.
So what should the message be? Putting the obvious problem of governmental coercion aside, it must be explained that the glitches are a microcosm for what happens when a large governmental bureaucracy tries to unilaterally overhaul 18 percent of the U.S. economy.
If you like the website glitches, how about glitchy doctors and glitchy healthcare? What are you going to do when someone hacks into your medical records? — when they claim you cancelled your insurance?? — when they decide you’re too sick to treat???
Going to the doctor may soon be like going to the DMV.
These are the fundamental problems that cannot be overshadowed. And, unlike bad computer code, these problems are not likely to go away.
But if Republicans aren’t careful, the message many will hear will instead be this: “People really want to sign up for ObamaCare, but the websites just aren’t working.”
Once again, this is about strategy, not philosophy.