ObamaCare Website: Under Knew Management
If House Democrats are sharpening their knives, it's not for turkey-carving. After spending three years of political capital on ObamaCare, the President is returning the favor by leaving his liberal flock to fend for themselves. "Here we are, we're supposed to be selling this to people, and it's all screwed up," one House office told The Hill. "This either gets fixed or this could be the demise of the Democratic Party." Asked if Barack Obama was even more unpopular among his party than George W. Bush, another liberal staffer said, "I think that's already happened."
As upsetting as the White House's lack of competence may be, it's the lack of candor that bothers members more. "... [Democrats] feel like they are continuing to be blindsided," one leader fumed. And they aren't the only ones. Americans' jaws are dropping enough to contract TMJ, as one revelation after another exposes the depth of betrayal and deception behind the ObamaCare launch.
One of the biggest bombshells dropped yesterday from the House Energy and Commerce Committee, when Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) produced proof that the administration knew -- as far as back as March -- that HealthCare.gov was in shambles. In the investigation, Upton confirmed that contractors had warned administration officials four times -- once in March and three times in April, including one meeting in the White House. Two weeks after those briefings, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sat in front of members of Congress and insisted, "We have the federal hub on track and on time... I can tell you we are on track."
The President, meanwhile, swore that he didn't realize the full extent of the website's problems until after its launch. "I was not informed directly that the website wasn't working the way it was supposed to." Days later, Americans are left wondering: was that just another exercise in verbal gymnastics -- or is the President really that ignorant of critical discussions taking place under his own roof? If he didn't know about the implementation of a law he staked his presidency on, what does he know? If he can't track his own website, how could he know aboutIran's nuclear program -- or anything of national importance?
Just when conservatives thought nothing would surprise them, the architect of HealthCare.gov, HHS's Henry Chao, stunned leaders Tuesday with the news that almost two months into the rollout, 30-40% of the website "still needs to be constructed" -- including key components like the insurer payment system. As one CNBC expert mused, "That's like setting up an online bank without setting up a way to make deposits." With so much left to do, no one seems to know how HHS could possibly meet the President's deadline for a functioning system by November 30. Even Chao admitted the date is unrealistic.
And for good reason. As recently as yesterday, when cameras followed Sebelius to a Florida office of ObamaCare navigators, she repeated an all-too familiar scene: watching a couple try -- and fail -- to sign up for coverage. "The screen says I'm sorry but the system is temporarily down," said one couple. "Uh oh," said Sebelius. Of course, if they had enrolled, they might have realized that -- like a lot of policies -- theirs covers elective abortion but not hearing aids or routine eye care. Unfortunately, the White House's guarantee to pro-lifers was just one in a long string of lies about a law that will take more than "rebranding" to salvage. At this point, there's only one thing that would be more difficult to repair -- and that's the President's credibility.
Err Force Corrects Mistake in Cadet Handbook
Mikey Weinstein once bragged that he and the Air Force Academy superintendent had their "own bat-signal." According to the anti-Christian crusader Weinstein, the secret hotline would alert Academy officials to crack down on an open promotion or display of Christianity. Well, the bat phone must be disconnected, because the Air Force seems to be working overtime to persuade Congress that campus officials welcome and respect faith.
After Weinstein lost the battle to outlaw "so help me God" in the cadet oath last month, Rep. Jim Bridenstine highlighted another incident of anti-Christian intolerance. For reasons that the Academy can't (or won't) explain, "so help me God" was removed from three oaths in the 2012 edition of their cadet handbooks. Led by Bridenstine, two dozen members of Congress sent a letter to Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson demanding an explanation. "Editing the oath for Academy students," the congressmen wrote, "is extreme and unnecessary, and does a disservice to the countless individuals who wish to include the phrase as a solemn reminder that they are pledging their fidelity to God and country."
After the bad press over last month's oath incident, Air Force officials raced to reassure Congress that there was nothing behind the mistake except human error. An Academy spokesman told Fox News's Todd Starnes, "It was an editorial oversight" -- one that the team will hurry to correct before next year's edition.
While the Academy's quick response was a welcome one, Bridenstine and others are still left wondering how God could have inadvertently vanished -- not once, but three times. Obviously, someone isn't telling the truth, and it will be up to Congress to get to the bottom of who and why the order was given.
Baby Steps to Pro-life Reform
Pro-lifers got close, but unfortunately not close enough in Albuquerque's vote on late-term abortion. After a hard-fought campaign, the city fell short of banning abortion after 20 weeks, when medical experts have testified that babies feel pain. By 45-55%, locals kept the town's reputation intact as one of the most liberal abortion destinations in America. Outspent 4:1 and fighting an onslaught of misleading ads, pro-lifers never gave up. While the effort fell politically short, our friends on the ground say the campaign may have been successful in saving lives -- just by raising the issue of fetal pain.
As pro-lifers will tell you, this is just the beginning of a nationwide effort to protect women and children from the barbaric legacy of abortion -- an effort, it seems, in which the Supreme Court will play a major role. Cushioning the blow of Tuesday's New Mexico vote, the justices refused to grant Planned Parenthood's request to block a Texas law that raises abortion clinic safety standards. By the slimmest of margins, the court ruled 5-4 that Governor Rick Perry's (R) state could continue implementing a policy that protects women from the shoddy conditions they've been subjected to in clinics across Texas. Under the new law, Planned Parenthood and other facilities will have to certify that their doctors have admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles in case of emergency. Not surprisingly, a lot of local hospitals are reluctant to give abortion providers access because of the liability associated with their terrible track record.
Justice Antonin Scalia defended the Texas legislature, writing that pro-abortion activists (including his four colleagues who sided with them), had no basis for "asserting that the law is even probably unconstitutional." Even so, it's a debate that his own Court is destined to have. As FRC's Ken Klukowski points out in a new Breitbart column, this case is on a collision course for the Supreme Court -- potentially by next October. Until then, pro-lifers can celebrate a Texas law that will have had a good 12 months of protecting women and children first.
** How much power do two words have? A lot, if they're "under God." Find out how President Obama's decision to drop the phrase from the Gettysburg Address contrasts with the outlook of one U.S. Supreme Court Justice in Ken Klukowski's piece, "Clarence Thomas versus Barack Obama on Gettysburg and American Greatness."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.