ObamaCare isn't connecting with voters -- and yesterday, it just plain wasn't connecting with anything! System failures, network crashes, and error messages seemed to multiply from one state exchange to the next, ruining the rollout of what was supposed to be the answer to America's health care prayers. Despite three years to work out the kinks, the dawn of the health care law was one of the President's biggest embarrassments yet, as reporters raced to cover one malfunction to the next. When MSNBC's Mara Schiavocampo tried to sign up for ObamaCare on live TV -- and couldn't -- even she was frustrated. "If I were signing up for myself, this is where my patience would be exhausted."
Join the club. For the shrinking minority who support the President's health care law, their first taste of ObamaCare was a bad one. In Colorado, officials couldn't calculate the subsidies; Marylanders had a four-hour wait just to apply (but at least they finally opened their exchange -- unlike Oregon); Washington State's website flashed warnings like "connection refused;" and the federal government flat-out turned away Americans with the message "system down." Other networks in New York, Kentucky, Michigan, and Iowa couldn't handle the traffic.
The logjam created by the curious led to unprecedented technical difficulties and computer hiccups. But the interest in the government's new program hasn't exactly translated into enrollments. By noon, Connecticut's exchange had only registered 24 people. That might explain the Obama administration's sudden coyness on enrollment numbers. "We're not releasing that information yet," said Marilyn Tavenner of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. "...[B]ut we can confirm that people have enrolled both through the state marketplace and the federally-facilitated marketplace."
Those who did were probably stunned to see that the most expensive preexisting condition is... marriage! The "wedding tax," as the engaged Tom Blumber points out, is punishing the most stable unit in society with thousands of dollars in extra fees. Although the amount can vary, CNSNews is reporting that married couples can lose as much as $7,230 per year just for tying the knot. Marriage penalty, wedding tax, divorce incentive -- by any name, its ill effects will be felt by the middle class working family.
The White House tried to reassure voters by comparing the exchanges to Apple's debut of the operating system iOS7. "Consider that just a couple weeks ago, Apple rolled out a new mobile operating system, and within days," the President said, "they found a glitch, so they fixed it." Yes, socialized medicine is exactly like a new iPhone -- except that people don't want it, can't afford it, and have lost their jobs, freedom, and insurance because of it.
Unfortunately, the health care meltdown is just a preview of things to come. Remember, this is just the first phase of ObamaCare -- the biggest wave rolls in on January 1, when guaranteed coverage kicks in and millions of Americans drop their insurance to join the government's system. If you thought yesterday was mayhem, just wait. An HHS spokesman insisted that "The demand exceeded anything we expected." He's right, if by that he means the demand to overturn the law.
While health officials were racing to work out the bugs, Congress was dealing with its own system failure: the government shutdown. To ease some of the pain, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) tried to find a way to reopen at least part of the government. With conservatives' help, he sent three mini-spending bills to the floor that would have funded the National Park Service, Department of Veterans Affairs, and the District of Columbia government. Republicans opted to fast-track the proposals under "suspension of the rules," which requires a two-thirds majority. In leadership's mind, the three programs were so reasonable that they'd have no trouble passing them. Wrong. Democrats shot down the measures, proving again that the Left doesn't want solutions. "The concept is pretty general: If there [are] really parts of the government that Democrats want to fund, we're going to give them that chance," said Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.).
For his part, President Obama still insists on being the President of the Democratic Party, not the President of United States. His refusal to sit down and problem-solve with members of Congress is stunning, even to some in the media. Fred Barnes continues to be amazed. "Mr. Obama has rejected conciliation and compromise with Republicans. Instead, he attacks them in sharp, partisan language in speech after speech. His approach -- dealing with a deadlock by not dealing with it -- is unprecedented. He has gone where no president has gone before."
WWII Vets Invade... Washington?
With the government shutdown at day one and Congress fighting over who to blame, another battle broke out at the World War II Memorial in downtown D.C. While the House of Representatives was voting on a bill specifically to fund the Department of Veterans Affairs, WWII veterans were blocked from visiting the WWII memorial on the Capitol Mall. Only 33 Democrats voted yes, effectively killing the measure.
Meanwhile, over 100 Veterans from Mississippi and Iowa were in town to visit the WWII Memorial -- only to be met by "government shutdown" fences blocking the entrance. But they would not be deterred. Several members of Congress were with the group, including friends of FRC like Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa). While the congressmen distracted the national park police, veterans moved the barricades so they and other visitors could enter the memorial. After the event, a National Park Police spokeswoman said that no one was at risk of "getting arrested at this time." Stars and Stripes's Leo Shane is quoted saying that he "watched Rep. Steve King distract a park police officer while vets and staffers knocked down the fences here."
Rep. Louie Gohmert also tweeted a photo of himself with a veteran, stating "proud to stand with WW2 veterans today." Another conservative stalwart, Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.), told his followers that "Amazing Grace" sounds "even more beautiful on bagpipes when I am helping WWII vets tour the monument they risked their lives for. #Freedom."
A Celebration of Change
Monday night, the Washington, D.C. area was the site of the First Annual Ex-Gay Awareness Month Dinner and Reception. Threats to the civil rights of those who have abandoned a "gay" identity and left the homosexual lifestyle, as well as those who have unwanted same-sex attractions and seek help to overcome them, have never been greater than they are now. Two states, California and New Jersey, have passed laws unprecedented in the history of psychology to actually outlaw sexual orientation therapy with minors by licensed counselors.
Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel received the "Ex-Gay Freedom Award" for his lawsuits challenging both statutes -- in fact, he left directly from the dinner for Trenton, New Jersey to argue the case against the New Jersey law in federal district court yesterday morning. A pincer movement is underway in New Jersey -- in addition to the new law restricting therapy with minors, a lawsuit by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has charged both licensed and unlicensed counselors with "consumer fraud." Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH) is being defended by the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF), but the pro-homosexual activists are pursuing legal tactics that could bankrupt both organizations.
Dennis Jernigan, an ex-gay who is a renowned Christian musician (he wrote "You Are My All in All" and other popular praise songs), provided music, while Trace McNutt, a former satanic drag queen, was winner of the "Courage Award" for former homosexuals. The event was inspiring evidence that for homosexuals, change is possible -- a message they have a right to hear. To help these courageous allies, click over to their sites, JONAH and FCDF.
** One of this generation's courageous young leaders, Roy Costner, will be coming to VVS to share his story of tearing up his graduation speech and talking about Jesus against his principal's wishes. Today, FOX Carolina featured Roy in a special article about the Summit. Check it out here! Also, if you haven't registered for next week's event, click over to ValuesVoterSummit.org.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.