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A big brouhaha has developed among the progressive chatterers between Joan Walsh of Salon and Ezra Klein of the Washington Post, both frequent contributors to MSNBC about the Affordable Care Act and its messy rollout, and what is the proper level of criticism to fire at the Obama Administration for the mess.  (Here's a  link to the MSNBC clip of their on-air confrontation but that doesn't seem to work as of this writing).

I think Walsh has the better of the argument.  I don't think Klein "has sold out" or anything of the sort.  But I do think he's feeding, intentionally or not, into the Republican narrative about government can't do anything right, even as he himself probably views himself as a liberal sounding the alarm about feeding into this very narrative.

I know whereof I speak.  I have participated in botched website rollouts for one of America's largest corporations (it's one you love to hate, but I still work there).  A burning memory I will always live with was spending Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend on conference calls dealing with the fallout). I know how these SNAFUs can happen and how a corporation deals with it.

A corporation, when doing such a rollout, first of all, would never tolerate such dissension in its ranks, as we have seen here.  Corporate officials who opposed the venture, would know, once it passed, that they had to either shut up and get with the program - or leave.  That's a basic difference between a corporation and a democracy.  Instead of that enforced unanimity, Obamacare has rolled out in a continuing atmosphere of sniper fire.

In the software biz, we talk about "scope creep", an insidious process whereby a project is given more and more tasks, more and more features (bells and whistles) to implement by clueless managers with more power than brains.  Scope Creep is the biggest obstacle to a project coming in on time and under budget.  The ACA was hit not with scope creep but scope explosion, an obstacle that, at one fell swoop, increased the scope by one or two "orders of magnitude".  (An order of magnitude is a tenfold increase (adding a 0 at the end), two orders of magnitude is two zeroes, etc.)

When the red states pulled out of the exchanges, the Administration didn't bat an eye, they just said, that's okay, the Federal exchanges can handle it.   From a business point of view that was an unimaginable blunder.  If not an outright lie.  But from a government point of view it was the only way forward.  They didn't, and couldn't come back for more revenue because the Congress that approved Obamacare had changed to one of virulent opposition to the program.

That, right there, sealed the fate of the website.  You don't have to posit conspiracy theories and saboteurs.  The sabotage was right out in the open.  There was no way in hell it was not going to be extremely rocky.

If a corporation found itself in such a situation it would have done one of two things:
1) Moved sufficient funding from one bucket to another to pay for the vast spike in scope.
2) Abandoned the project.

Neither of these options were available to the Obama Administration.  The budget was under the control of hostile forces and no increases had a snowball's chance in hell of being approved.  So the only "rational business" move at the Administration's disposal was to abandon the ACA.  Which would have meant surrender.

Klein even gets this.  But he still draws the wrong conclusion.

The Obama administration deserves all the criticism it's getting for the poor start of health law and more. Their job was to implement the law effectively -- even if Republicans were standing in their way.
What Klein is overlooking is the difference between business and politics.

The only "rational" thing for Abraham Lincoln to do when the South seceded was to have let them go.  He chose a different route, and soon we were "engaged in a great civil war".  An 1861 version of Ezra Klein would have been pontificating on how the not-yet inaugurated Lincoln was a failure for letting the union fall apart.

This is war, and Klein hasn't sufficiently realized this.  Maybe his 1861 doppelganger would have, eventually.  Sometimes you have to decide which side are you on.  This is something that Joan Walsh gets and he doesn't.

(And yes, single-payer would have been better.  It wouldn't have been so complicated.  Question for those tempted to sit on the sidelines because of this, is whether they think single-payer's chances are better if the Republicans prevail in this war or if Obamacare continues to limp along in its current mode.  I'd go with the latter.)

It's going to be a rough ride, people.  Get used to it.

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  •  Tip Jar (245+ / 0-)
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    Musial, tobendaro, Diana in NoVa, Pirogue, stlsophos, Purple Priestess, salmo, Cedwyn, a2nite, ksp, Buckeye54, awcomeon, Kentucky DeanDemocrat, petesmom, oslyn7, dizzydean, DoReMI, CwV, geordie, mbh1023, Geenius at Wrok, 88kathy, howarddream, LiberalCanuck, splashy, oofer, WisVoter, Habitat Vic, marleycat, Pluto, Josiah Bartlett, tin woodswoman, musicsleuth, Deep Texan, MartyM, ems97206, T Maysle, zbob, dzog, philipmerrill, Loudoun County Dem, Laurel in CA, MKSinSA, zozie, zerelda, anodnhajo, Gowrie Gal, Chinton, psnyder, theKgirls, SuWho, Yoshimi, KMc, glendaw271, smartdemmg, Will in Chicago, gchaucer2, ridemybike, R rugosa alba, Sylv, rmabelis, scyellowdogdem, Gary Norton, dreamweaver1, Tunk, Catte Nappe, roses, Clyde the Cat, Thinking Fella, IndieGuy, political junquie, missquested, highacidity, ArthurPoet, Byblis, Eyesbright, hopeful, poco, Rosaura, blue aardvark, flitedocnm, JanetT in MD, Shockwave, Tortmaster, BachFan, Fury, Sun Tzu, JayBat, amsterdam, MKinTN, TXdem, ANY THING TOO ADD, uniqity, Arilca Mockingbird, elwior, NYWheeler, dagnome, wdrath, Capt Crunch, bleeding blue, bfitzinAR, Tonedevil, smileycreek, NoMoJoe, TX Unmuzzled, Railfan, GAS, LibrErica, Via Chicago, aunt blabby, sow hat, Buckeye Nut Schell, fumie, theBreeze, Nulwee, toom, parse this, USHomeopath, Subterranean, anonevent, middleagedhousewife, Arahahex, closerange, SheilaKinBrooklyn, millwood, OIL GUY, Snarky McAngus, Tamar, timethief, mikejay611, rasfrome, billlaurelMD, Brian82, fluffy, Glen The Plumber, Molly Weasley, bobatkinson, begone, claude, Aaa T Tudeattack, steamed rice, rogerdaddy, gramofsam1, PedalingPete, Gay CA Democrat, countwebb, Brecht, Susan from 29, DC Scott, 2thanks, Shadowmage36, jotter, gustynpip, cocinero, MKHector, gloriana, dotsright, Lost and Found, GeorgeXVIII, Crabby Abbey, The Sheeping of America, tacet, JDWolverton, SaintC, Sapere aude, NM Ray, clinging to hope, kenwards, Trendar, Matt Z, Laughing Vergil, Shotput8, CalBearMom, thomask, WheninRome, OleHippieChick, CS in AZ, Gorette, virginwoolf, Jim Riggs, arlene, TheDuckManCometh, AntonBursch, smoothnmellow, Tool, paz3, dksbook, Just Bob, SteveLCo, serendipityisabitch, Byron from Denver, gypsytoo, expatjourno, Dodgerdog1, Al Fondy, apip0115, Insecta, sethtriggs, sable, kck, jexter, caryltoo, nargel, kefauver, el dorado gal, tofumagoo, Involuntary Exile, SolarMom, nicteis, Chaddiwicker, BlueOak, nyceve, jandn, ObserverinMontreal, greengemini, ssgbryan, chantedor, ColoTim, monkeybrainpolitics, sea note, LABobsterofAnaheim, Alumbrados, LanceBoyle, BarackStarObama, DrWhk, KenBee, KayCeSF, Chitown Charlie, StellaRay, sebastianguy99, bluezen, rbird, Robynhood too, VTCC73, Larsstephens, sighrus, MJ via Chicago, Sychotic1, notrouble, zukesgirl64, rsmpdx, jayden, La Gitane, ImpeachKingBushII, Zack from the SFV

    sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

    by stivo on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 04:16:18 AM PDT

  •  "feeds the narrative"-yuck. (24+ / 0-)

    The idea that we should refrain from pointing out obviously true things because it might help the other side is both offensive, because telling the truth has some value, and politically foolish because it's not like our refraining from pointing out the obvious will cause people not to observe the obvious.  And we'll just become "the other party that denies the obvious."

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 04:34:27 AM PDT

  •  Excellent diary! (13+ / 0-)

    Your arguments make sense. i've heard that Klein is a Republican, anyway.

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 04:34:29 AM PDT

  •  I was certainly a strong proponent of (18+ / 0-)

    Medicare for all, a single paymaster would cut out the unnecessary and obstreperous middlemen. What I did not realize and what Barack Obama also was perhaps not aware of is the fact that insurance regulation is a state matter, overseen by insurance commissioners and commissions who have a vested interest in the industry. The states were resistance to giving up that area of jurisdiction, if only because the nationalization of banking has been disasterous.
    Banking and insurance are, of course, closely related because insurance companies are one of the primary funnels of profits into the banks.
    So, the compromise struck on the ACA was that states would get to keep their regulatory powers and the insurance industry would continue to thrive, albeit with restricted profit levels and, in exchange, the banks would be stripped of their education loan subsidies and brought under stricter regulation with Dodd-Frank and the Consumer Protection Bureau.
    The opponents of these reforms made a tactical mistake in trying to head the expansion of health insurance off at the pass with wails about death panels and such. By the time Congress got to Dodd-Frank they had shot their wad and the third leg of the reforms passed almost without notice. Then all they could hope for was a wholesale repeal, not on behalf of the insurance industry, but on behalf of the banksters -- who could not speak for themselves because they have no friends anywhere in the country. Their freedom from regulation had led to wholesale collapse and now they've got nothing to complain about -- except that they are feeling insecure, poor things.
    As far as the web site goes, that's another faux issue. Most of the people that need to be signed up and provided with subsidies are not computer literate. They're going to get help from the public and private eleemosynary agencies they've been dealing with -- i.e. health clinics and the like.

    I did a diary the other day, pointing to just a few of the agencies in NH that are available to be contacted on foot and in person for assistance.
    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    That these resources are accessed on the web site through the phone link is perhaps confusing for the random press inspector, but it actually makes sense. Low income people aren't nearly as hooked into the internet as we might think. People use their cell phones to get information from the internet, but they also communicate via speech and text.
    Disparagement of the telephone strikes me as somewhat comparable to the disparagement of cash. Economic pundits have been predicting for decades that cash is going to be phased out, even as ATMs dispense more and more. Economists hate cash because it is hard to track. Spymasters hate voice communication because it is hard to record and decipher.

    •  Don't forget the taxes on high income levels (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      highacidity, bobatkinson, mikejay611

      which are helping to fund the ACA.  Would full repeal get rid of them, too?

      “The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day.” Gloria Steinem

      by ahumbleopinion on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 08:42:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Obama should have been aware of that (0+ / 0-)

      he was a law professor, after all. The fact that insurance is regulated at the state level is not obscure, specialized knowledge, especially for someone who served in a state legislature.

      Also--health insurance is only a part of the insurance industry--most health insurance is already federally regulated under ERISA, as most people get health coverage as an employee benefit.

      As for "the nationalization of banking has been disastrous"...could you explain that? How have banks been "nationalized"?

      "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

      by Alice in Florida on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 09:20:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I am not sure how it worked, but (0+ / 0-)

        banks used to be restricted to the states in which they were organized. Perhaps holding companies were the mechanism, but sometime in the eighties, which is I think when BofA plopped itself down in North Carolina, banking became an interstate enterprise and they started relocating into more favorable climes.
        Anyway, it made the Community Reinvestment Act, which was passed in 1977, virtually outmoded from the start because it was difficult to argue that banks should invest where they collected deposits since it was difficult to determine where that was. Nevertheless, perhaps because they were insulted at having been told what to do, the bankers continued to whine about the CRA for decades to wrangle more and more concessions from Congress to relax the few remaining restrictions.
        ACORN earned the emnity of banks by just demanding to inspect bank records under the CRA and the banks were so covetous of their secrecy that they kept buying ACORN off with "sertlements" of law suits that then funded ACORN for several years. So, by the time the kerfuffle over ACORN registering voters erupted, they no longer needed federal funding and then with the passage of Dodd-Frank, the whole bank monitoring under CRA was passé.
        As Warren Stephens, The Lord of Little Rock, predicted banking is about to become boring again. And so is insurance.

        •  Actually there have been national banks (0+ / 0-)

          since the end of the Civil War--state and national banks have coexisted with state-chartered banks since the nineteenth century. Whether a bank has a state or national charter does not seem to make a difference so far as the CRA goes--in fact eing chartered as a national bank does not require one to operate in multiple states, or even multiple cities.

          Perhaps the appearance of so many local branches of big national banks has to do with consolidation in banking, of small banks being absorbed by the likes of BOA and CitiBank and Chase, that they have to provide retail services now in place of the banks that they replaced.

          "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

          by Alice in Florida on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 08:47:30 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  "Republican narrative about government " (4+ / 0-)

    The "Republican narrative about government can't do anything right" is being fed by the people that mismanaged the roll-out of the web site.

    And it was mismanaged.  

    Pretending otherwise gets in the way of fixing things and government actually doing things right.

    •  What are the things you would fix? (15+ / 0-)

      There may well be some people who will eventually be fired here.  I don't know who they are or what technical mistakes they made.  But this is small potatoes.

      What I do know is you that you can't repurpose a website from being a portal to 50 state exchanges into a site that manages all those 50 state backends itself, without a massive infusion of budget.  It would be like turning a book review site into amazon.com.

      Therefore, it must always have been part of the plan that there would have be chaos and it would have to be cleaned up later.  I just don't see any other way you could have kept the ACA given the political balance of forces.

      sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

      by stivo on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 05:17:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Two obvious errors (mismanagement) (7+ / 0-)

        On day one and for much of the first week people could not even register and login to use the site.  That was a massive self-inflicted FAIL.

        People had to register and provide information to shop for rates and subsidy information.  That was a very bad decision and another self-inflicted FAIL.

         

        •  Maybe (13+ / 0-)

          but the signup process whether before the shopping for rates or after was always going to be problematic.  The fundamental "error" was attempting to go forward without sufficient budget once the job changed from being a portal to being an extremely complex destination.

          Firing lower level subordinates just to show you're a "kick-ass executive, on top of the situation" is, in itself, another kind of lie.  

          The real culprit is the political environment we're in.

          sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

          by stivo on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 05:38:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Firing lower level subordinates (0+ / 0-)
            Firing lower level subordinates just to show you're a "kick-ass executive, on top of the situation" is, in itself, another kind of lie.
            I am not arguing that low level subordinates messed up and think it is mostly irrelevant to the issue.  Low level subordinates should only be able to do a limited amount of damage.  The damage here required someone with power making bad decisions and mismanaging the project.

            BTW, if you want a glimpse into real war "This is war!", click the News link in my sig line.

            •  firing people is a terrible way to get things done (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              closerange, bobatkinson, Keninoakland

              I don't understand where this idea that people need to be fired came from. The people who understand the system and the people who are best positioned to fix it are the people you are demanding Obama fire.

              Of course, if there's evidence of malfeasance (like they're intentionally sabotaging the rollout) then those people need to go. But failing to perfectly execute a complicated project under withering opposition and in a limited time-frame is not evidence.

        •  ... that's not a "thing you would fix" (0+ / 0-)

          that's a "my car is makin' this funny noise"

          "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

          by nosleep4u on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 08:26:21 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  And, it wasn't tested properly.. (0+ / 0-)

          ..if at all. We gave the crooks and liars a freebie.

          It wasn't anywhere near ready to go live. I knew it after day one. Gross error.

          What is so unnerving about the candidacy of Sarah Palin is the degree to which she represents—and her supporters celebrate—the joyful marriage of confidence and ignorance. SAM HARRIS

          by Cpqemp on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 09:12:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I agree that this is part of the problem.... (18+ / 0-)

    and we need to carry on.

    Recently i had to make a health insurance decision- keep my husbands insurance when he retired or change to my workplace insurance.  i had to compare deductibles, co-pays, changing physicians, out of state networks, changes in coverage, lots of issues.  I had to read confusing web pages and call the companies for explanation.  The insurance companies are helping run ACA and presumably they will hire some pleasant people on the phone to help explain this stuff to people.  That is how I decided what to do.  I spent a little bit more because son is still on insurance, and that meant we actually saved him $6000 this year when he got sick and had to go to the ER.

    You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

    by murrayewv on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 05:19:28 AM PDT

  •  if all the website problems were (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    i dunno, Justanothernyer, FG

    driven by a lack of funding over the last three years. The thing to have done would have been to make it known to all that unless it was increased, the website wouldn't work and that it would be the fault of those who prevented the work from being properly funded.

    Thus if the Republicans are at fault, the blame is pre-layed on them. But i don't recall any debate about a lack of funding for the ACA or demands for more to make it work.

    So i am dubious that it has been a failure due to a lack of funds.

  •  Immoral they won't help make this better or (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    splashy, bobatkinson

    offer a better plan and its like everyone forgot that their were any issues with health care costs before the ACA

    i guess it used to work just fine, why did we mess it all up

    "The poor can never be made to suffer enough." Jimmy Breslin

    by merrywidow on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 06:04:46 AM PDT

  •  They're both wrong and both right (14+ / 0-)

    I think if Joan Walsh had her way we would emulate the GOP and circle the wagon around our leaders no matter what. But Klein's "evolution" from a liberal blogger at the Washington Monthly to this very centrist Big Name at the Washington POst has been a stunning transformation. He said last year, as a 29-year-old, he wasn't as liberal as when he was 25- or 26. Just a coincidence that that was around the time he was hired by the Pot? Probably not.

    His broadside against the rollout has been so unrelenting that it seems to me to be a play in part to get his mug more  TV time than it already was. You can't be a Very Serious Person in this town without establishing unimpeachable bipartisan bonafides and this is Klein's big play and he's sticking to it. This is the guy, after all, who spent all of 2010 and 2011, fluffing Paul Ryan. I just don't really trust him - still, it would be silly to ignore the screw-ups around the ACA rollout.

    •  Klein is getting in front of the problem (7+ / 0-)

      And the problem for him is that Obamacare is basically neoliberalism's Iraq War.  Its key features of actually doing stuff via for-profit companies and nudging people towards desirable outcomes by making them run a maze of choices are basically the things that Klein's entire oeuvre promote.  

      Obamacare flopping out of the gate invalidates the assumptions of the whole neoliberal program, which isn't really popular outside of Washington and donor circles anyway.  Thus, the issue has to be somewhere in the implementation, and Klein is ON IT (as they would say on twitter).

      Would it surprise you to know that Klein also supported the Iraq War?

    •  Joan Walsh (10+ / 0-)

      has fired many salvos against the President during his administration.  Ones I can remember were his endless futile search for compromise with the GOP over "entitlements" etc.   I agreed with her then too.

      sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

      by stivo on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 07:03:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good diary--you've gotten some heat from (21+ / 0-)

    folks who want to criticize, but I think your points are correct.  This was an orc created issue, any website rollout, especially one as massive and complicated (let's remember that there has to be significant privacy aspects to be complied with that are much higher than your standard amazon account) was bound to be problematic.  But, as is usually the case, once the thing has been operational for a period of time, it will have most of the bugs worked out.  

    However, the orcs want to circle the bonfire and do the anti-government dance in the hopes of eating a sacrificial victim thrown to them by the admin (see Van Jones).  They want Sebelius, but she's way too good for them.

    In the end, by November 2014, this will all be forgotten, except by those hiding in their little orc-holes waiting for their next chance....

    To be free and just depends on us. Victor Hugo.

    by dizzydean on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 06:47:47 AM PDT

  •  Having managed literally hundreds of... (7+ / 0-)

    ...development/deployment projects for some of the worlds largest corporations, I have found that the best way to manage scope creep is to impose the dreaded change freeze and defer changes to the Day 2 operations team ;-)

    Or threaten to re-baseline, which throws everyone into a tizzy...

    I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!

    by itsjim on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 07:40:03 AM PDT

    •  Those Are Corporations (9+ / 0-)

      One of stivo's big points is that you can't run a government like a corporation.

      If we had wanted to do that, we would have elected Mittens :-)

      I was lead architect on a couple of NASA ground deployments. I know has these things can get sideways.

      •  Good point! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mikejay611

        I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!

        by itsjim on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 08:42:13 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It seems that a private contractor who (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        itsjim

        accepted the additional scope would be charging for additional services. Was this in the original budget or is the contractor buring through their fee right now?

      •  I think the main point is you can't fire the GOP (5+ / 0-)

        In a corporation, if you had as deep a schism on a project crucial to the President pretty much everyone who actively tried to subvert that project would be sh*t-canned.

        The President of the United States doesn't have that power (thankfully).

        The last three years should have involved a series of fixes and patches to the law to address unanticipated changes to the conditions on the ground. Unfortunately, our form of government presumes that everyone in Congress is trying to make the government work well.

        •  I don't know... (0+ / 0-)

          I was under the impression that the problems with the website were mostly mechanical, i.e. users being unable to register, or insufficient bandwidth and server capacity. Even if some of the particulars were "under construction" I would think the basic operation and infrastructure would be sound.

          I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!

          by itsjim on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 12:29:03 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  This was a perfect storm of bad options (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        zbob, stivo

        It's becoming clear that there was virtually no opportunity for testing the site as it was about to go live--the logical thing for a corporation to do in that situation would have been to push back the date, which of course was impossible because presumably it was required by law in this case..next best thing would have been to stay low-key, not encourage too many people to go to the site at first--but that was likewise fraught with danger as it happened during the GOP shutdown and would have been seen as an admission of failure.

        "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

        by Alice in Florida on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 09:34:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Maybe it's just me (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sylv, poco, Chinton, claude, highacidity

    But I've noticed for the first time that Ezra is having "senior moments" about what is going on in the miasma of the ACA rollout. I mean, he can see the individual trees all right, but he tends to get lost in the forest of extremely nuanced political strategy that seems to speak to the issue. But, of course, it doesn't.

    Maybe he's not a big picture guy, or, perhaps he's just too close to it and needs a refreshing vacation.


    __________________
    "A strange game. The only winning move is not to play."
            -- Joshua, aka WOPR (War Operation Plan Response) automated nuclear-launch super-computer. "War Games," 1983.

    by Pluto on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 08:09:30 AM PDT

  •  You missed the third option (8+ / 0-)

    You stated:

    If a corporation found itself in such a situation it would have done one of two things:
    1) Moved sufficient funding from one bucket to another to pay for the vast spike in scope.
    2) Abandoned the project.
    But you left out the third option, and frankly the most common and certainly obvious option.
    3) Scale back the scope
    I've participated in hundreds of development efforts and rollouts myself, including many that were overly ambitious given their funding level. My experience, and I have over 31 years of it, has been that more often than not, when a corporation gets into this situation, option 3 is what they go with.

    In the case of the healthcare.gov website, it could simply have been scaled down to a data gathering application. That would be followed up by an offline batch process, or even a manual one if necessary.

    Outside dependencies are the bane of any OLTP process. When you know you don't have the bandwidth to handle them live, you find an alternate means (batch or manual). You don't just give up or throw more money at it.

    "crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government" -Thomas Jefferson

    by Phil In Denver on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 08:19:33 AM PDT

    •  Intriguing third option (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sylv, highacidity

      But I don't think it would have flown.  It's too main-framey and would have been ridiculed as such.  Still, this is worth thinking about.

      sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

      by stivo on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 08:27:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Main-framey? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        greenbell, theran, highacidity

        Nearly every business of any size uses batch processing as a staple and an augmentation to their OLTP processes. It is considered a universal standard for large scale processing.

        I would take the reverse view, attempting to do in an OLTP process what so obviously would be better done in a batch process is subject to ridicule. It is the type of architecture that people with very limited experience would propose. Usually kids right out of college who have never really built a high volume system.

        "crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government" -Thomas Jefferson

        by Phil In Denver on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 10:34:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I have found most of the tech commentary (0+ / 0-)

          especially from Klein, who basically seems like a guy who can use a browser, kind of useless/funny.

          Even somebody with cursory knowledge of designing high-throughput web apps would find the whole "if Facebook can do it, how hard must it be" line of thinking a little bogus.  Especially if you assume that most insurance and government systems aren't really used that way.

          On the other hand, it suggests a somewhat easy fix: do more off-line processing.  (And anyway, in Germany, where buying insurance online and off is a kind of national hobby, you usually have some totally offline step when you buy public or private insurance via a web site.)

    •  Congress could have changed the scope (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      highacidity, theran

      the thrust of the diary is that given the broken state of our government, the Obama administration had little choice but to push forward with the law as written.

    •  Or at least start smaller (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      greenbell

      Sites like banks, insurance companies, and even Social Security tend to start out with say six functions, and then over time increase the number of things you can do online and the ease of doing it.

      I agree that starting with limited functions on the website, and in person or phone or mail-in as the way to actually submit an application and verify information like your ID, SSN, and 2012 income, would have made more sense the first time out. My non-techie understanding is that the most challenging parts of the programming are the automated interfaces with Experian and IRS/Social Security. So start without those, and add them later.

  •  I'd be fine with Klein's coverage (19+ / 0-)

    If he would just drop the hair-on-fire adjectives like "disaster" and "debacle".

    Katrina and 9/11 were disasters.

    The Iraq war was a debacle.

    This is, at worst, a road-bump.

    Report on the problems Ezra, but leave the hyperbole to the people who want to demonize the program.

    •  I'd call it "missed opportunity" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      highacidity, MrJersey

      If it had worked flawlessly (which is probably impossible) it could have been a resounding victory over the forces of darkness claiming government can't do anything right. If it had worked pretty well, it would still be a big point in our favor, and would have helped immeasurably in dispelling confusion and misinformation.

      As it is, we're stuck in the middle with GOP misinformation flying fast and furious and an arduous struggle to combat them and try to get good information out. It's all about information...the fact that hardly anybody can actually enroll doesn't really matter, nobody needs to enroll now, almost nobody is going to enroll before December. All you get for early enrollment (aside from bragging on dKos) is the opportunity to pay in advance for something you won't get until January.

      Accurate information about prices would be nice, though, for those of us (not young) who have to figure out how we are going to afford it. The current site has an estimator that appears to give unrealistically low prices--it asks only if you are under or over 50, but as I understand it the highest premium allowed is up to three times the lowest, so there should be at least three choices there. It should be clear what the maximum age-based premium is.

      "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

      by Alice in Florida on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 09:48:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wow stivo. (14+ / 0-)

    You posted what I thought was a logical, articulate and fairly non-controversial account of what happened, and you're getting all kinds of grief that escapes me. I went back and re-read the diary in an attempt to determine what has people so pissed and still can't find the smoking gun.

    One small point is that, according to what I've read in the press, the administration did move some money around in order to augment ACA funding. Your basic tenant is correct -- the House tried to starve the ACA as best it could.

  •  Certain liberal pundits may work for (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobatkinson, mikejay611

    organizations that have a conservative bent. Piling on the rollout problems is an easy way to score points for seeming "balance" and open-mindedness.

  •  Great diary. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zbob, Catte Nappe, Fury, BachFan, highacidity

    Working on big projects myself, you design a foundation to support the task that you are scoped with. Unfortunately when you have scope creep, the foundation either needs to be redesigned OR you have potential problems supporting the added scope.

    In this case there wasn't enough time or money to redesign the foundation and now we are stuck with a structure with inadequate support.

  •  The first question (0+ / 0-)

    in ANY software project is doing a little research to see
    if anyone has ALREADY created the system you want.

    I guess everyone just forgot that Massachusetts has had
    a working system for Years.

    I'm sure that Governor Deval Patrick would have been
    happy to SHARE what they already had up and running.

    It's a Shame that Nobody in the Administration was
    smart enough to even ASK.

    On Giving Advice: Smart People Don't Need It and Stupid People Don't Listen

    by Brian76239 on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 08:45:51 AM PDT

  •  Ezra is concern trolling under a veil of wonkiness (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobatkinson, MrJersey

    He has really become annoying lately. I can appreciate his nuance level, but his constant complaints are grating to my ears.

  •  and yes the gubmint can do it (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fury, Chas 981, highacidity

    I agree with essence of your diary and I want to also point out...

    In the last few decades I have had to deal with Blue X, an HMO and Medicare.

    Medicare has been by far the easiest and as we know they are the most economical.

    And if you are going to put an angry gator in the path of one of the runners , force only them on a long detour and load them down with weights, you can't expect them to win the course.

    best/sh

  •  Klein is wrong. Part of his problem is that he (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    theran, bobatkinson

    fancies himself a computer system expert, and his natural arrogance has overpowered his good sense leading him to believe that he would have done better. The failure of the ACA system effort was political to a very great degree. The systems work was poor, but the managers, the owners of the system, tried to do too much in too little time. They did a bad job, but it can be and i hope will be salvaged.

    I don't think Klein could have done better at all. In fact, he is obviously very inexperienced with the power that politics can have over development efforts such as this one. He would not have done better, and he probably would have done worse.

    He should stick to his knitting.

    Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

    by hestal on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 09:12:50 AM PDT

  •  As an IT professional myself, I completely agree, (4+ / 0-)

    The root cause is the unavoidable "scope creep" that was inherent to the situation, and yeah, sure, maybe they could have managed the "scope creep" better, but given the political climate, their ability to make executive decisions that would have limited that "scope creep" was severely hampered.

    (And also agreed: single payer would have been far easier to implement (from an IT perspective.))

    * Move Sooner ~ Not Faster *

    by ArthurPoet on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 09:15:42 AM PDT

  •  Hoaxes 101: "The government/democracy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobatkinson

    can't do anything right."

    Or as stated in this [piece: "...the Republican narrative about government can't do anything right."

    Yep. Check. AOK.

  •  I Really Like Ezra but I Disagree with Him Now (6+ / 0-)

    When I was watching Joan and Ezra on MSNBC I thought that Ezra had kind of a stubborn look on his face that I read as "I'm right and I'm not giving an inch."

    I felt like he wasn't listening to what Joan was saying and it struck me that I would have respected his position more if he opened up and really listened to what Joan had to say before deciding whether any of her points made sense to him.

    Maybe I'm just old, but I thought that Ezra's stance lacked maturity.  It felt like Joan was open to being wrong and he was not.  I always become suspicious of a person's opinion when they are unable to listen to someone else and take another look at their own stand.

    It is a real problem that the ACA web site rollout went  badly, but anyone who has been involved in a large, complex, software project that is on short a deadline knows that this is a likely outcome. How many times has Microsoft screwed up their delivery of a new OS and had to go back and fix it?  What major software company has never had to send out patches and supply work arounds?

    I don't consider myself an ageist.  I think that young people have great minds and are often more agile in their thinking then their elders, but this looked and sounded childishly petulant to me, and I think that Ezra Klein is better than that.

    "The Trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you're still a rat." attributed to Lily Tomlin

    by uniqity on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 09:25:11 AM PDT

  •  The real problem is... (4+ / 0-)

    people in business, in the govt., and in the media promote the idea that life is only immediate.  We have to be unwilling to wait for anything.  And whatever we are waiting for has to be perfection, or the criticism and speculation must begin.  We also have to find the source of the problem and fire those people from their jobs at once.  Those horrible folks deserve, in these times, to be unemployed because we did not get the perfection that we somehow deserve.  

    I'm frankly sick of this crap, and I am trying to slow down my life on my own, and I hope others will join me.  I'm also not looking anymore for any type of perfection, and will strive to use things that can be recycled to "good enough" status.  We have become the problem and we can fix it.  

  •  Klein's "Tough Love" v. "Concern Trolling" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Livvy5, i dunno

    I think it's clear from Wonkblog's exhaustive reporting on the ACA, via both Klein and Sarah Kliff, that they both want the ACA to work and think the ACA can work.

    Having a project of this magnitude suffer from so much basic dysfunction (both interfacing with users and insurers) is in fact a disaster for this law and it's roll-out, hopefully it will be a temporary disaster but it is clear that a few folks were snoozing at the switches, were not well-prepared and now the President and the Democrats will pay a political price for it, again, hopefully temporarily.

    Walsh is more an old-school op-ed type journalist in her approach to partisanship, it is clear Klein does not seem himself that way.  His credibility comes from being a nerd on policy details and being correct about them.  He does not see it as being in his wheelhouse to be reassuring the public on this, rather his role is to expose the issues and discuss them to death until they are resolved.  When they are, and as the program begins running more smoothly, Klein's articles/posts/comments will reflect that.

    I like Walsh a lot, but she does seem to be a bit delusional about the opportunity this debacle has given the GOP to tee off - its not something that can be defeated with more carefully massaged talking points.  The site is a real thing, with a real purpose and real people are interacting with it, and nothing will change people's opinion about it until it is working as intended.  I think that is the point Klein is hammering home to both a liberal administration and liberal readers - this needs to be fixed yesterday, and we can't spin our way out of that fact.

    Once it is, we will have an opportunity to turn the tables with success stories, the type that have been posted here and I'm sure what will be thousands of others.  But the proper response to this debacle is contrition on the technical roll-out, sleeve-rolling to fix it, and from a political point of view crossing our fingers to hope things get resolved soon.  

    By early December, we will ideally have an ACA site working fine, people crowing about their new and better policies and the Republicans shooting themselves in the foot again over budget brinksmanship.

    This too shall pass.

  •  I am surprised (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    theran, virginwoolf

    While an Excellent diary, I am surprised at the number of people jumping on the ACA.

    Further, the fact that the roll-out of a website is not what is going to matter. Voters are fickle, it is October 2013. All I know is a bunch of people who it matters to wonder "ok how do I get health care" and are trying/doing so not saying much.

    What will matter is the MANAGEMENT of the exchanges. Google it and find any scholarly article, the relative success of any exchange is related to its oversite. Now, if we have the same number of people expected to do that job now for far far more, I am worried, but seriously? This is like a FARK article. "Man that says Government can do no right, gets a failure message at healthcare.gove, has Heart attack" (or enrolls, has heart attack).

    Smoke and mirrors. I am not in computers, I am not a part of roll outs. But please, the inherent nature of the law has 0 to do with the moment. And anyone arguing against the diarist needs to have their heads checked.

    This is like Amazon.com rolling out one click purchasing, it getting pressed on Black Friday 2 million people clicking at 12:01, they can't handle it. So what? A week later most of those people will go back when it's there. And it is simple intellectual reckless abandon to pretend that the President could have said during the shut-down "We need more money" he won for a reason. I cannot imagine that was a serious though even knowing, as he knows this is chess not checkers, seriously, a website that the POTUS wants up and running? It will be. Then concentrate on how the exchanges are run. (and seriously at a time when psychos wanted to let the country default we'll get more money to pay go-daddy for bandwidth? please).

  •  One of the best things to result: discussion of (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    theran

    difference between private sector and our federal government both in the context of democracy and also our particularly ineffective laws that undermine effective management. Highly rec'd.

  •  People who have experience in major projects (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    theran, bobatkinson

    Seem to get this. I mean hands-on, right in it. Not in the same building, same office, or under the same logo, but actually working on the project.

    Sure, they have to make the logical leap that you did, that expanding the budget wasn't an option, and firing people wouldn't have done much good given the timeline of the project and the increase in scope.

    I agree with the admin's decision to plow forward; delaying could have resulted in delay that lasted years, or resulted in the successful killing of the project.

    This project is for the long term, and some bad experiences for the first users is part of the price that is being paid.

  •  I took almost a month to find an angle... (0+ / 0-)

    that blames Republicans for the website's failure. Usually the talking points come out a lot quicker.

    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

    by HairyTrueMan on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 09:54:23 AM PDT

  •  And those of us with severe medical problems (0+ / 0-)

    seeing our state Medicaid programs wiped out and no effective means of fulfilling our "individual mandates", we're just supposed to "get used to it", right?

    “Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral. ” ― Paulo Freire

    by ActivistGuy on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 09:59:27 AM PDT

    •  That's not a website problem (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BlueOak

      That's a political problem in the GOP-controlled states that refused to expand Medicaid.

      The Obama Administration did everything it could, including arguing to the US Supreme Court that states didn't have the option to opt-out. They lost.

      So no, you're not supposed to just "get used to it." It's not fair, period. But the anger needs to be channeled where it will do some good, into the next state elections, or possibly huge pressure on the legislature and governor to change the decision. That's not impossible; Ohio has just changed their minds and will take the Medicaid expansion.

      Good luck.

  •  My initial reaction (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    theran

    was to blame the administration for an incompetent rollout.  But the more I learn about the ACA website development, the closer I come to concluding that it's failure was inevitable given the conditions and time frame of the rollout.  

    My thinking now is that the administration is at fault for the politics of it, but not the technical failure.  It should have been a soft launch.  Prior to that, Obama should have shamed the non-participating states.  Prior to that, Obama and dem leaders should have anticipated 2010 and governed to prevent it.  

    The website itself and it's "backend" (I don't know the proper terminology) will be fine if it's working reasonably well by December.  The politics of this are an utter fuckup, and that falls on Obama primarily.  He's great in campaigns, but once he shifts to "govern mode" it's like his political instinct circuits are completely shut down.  He's never learned that governing IS politics, and success comes from crushing one's political enemies and forcing them to work with him, not from reaching out a hand to them.

    "When I was an alien, cultures weren't opinions" ~ Kurt Cobain, Territorial Pissings

    by Subterranean on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 10:03:05 AM PDT

  •  I'm with Ezra, the incompetence is endangering (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cpqemp

    the whole law. A law i'm already not inclined to defend.

    •  I'll add that if fixed by Thanksgiving (0+ / 0-)

      like some are saying, should make everyone feel a lot better. If not, we're really in for it.

    •  Why does it endanger the whole law? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kefauver, askew, jayden

      I know that EK has been pushing this line, but imagine that most people sign up over the phone by January or even March.  Or what if some people who don't really feel like they need it right away pay the $100 or so the first year?

      How awful is this?  The end result is that: people who had decent employer insurance kept it; a lot of people in civilized states who are poor got Medicaid; a lot of people in the individual market got insurance they can use.  Plus the various other changes.

      Ocare is complicated and ugly, but that was known already.

      •  because if at the end of the period the (0+ / 0-)

        40% young threshold the WH itself set out isn't met - premiums next year will rise substantially and it will be a self-destructing cycle.

        •  Seriously? (0+ / 0-)

          So you are saying that because it might turn out to be more expensive than planned, it will just tank, even if it's pretty popular?  I'd respond that:

          (a) This is basically an admission that neoliberalism is a total failure for actually solving problems, in the sense that an engineering ideology that produced jets which crashed if it rains is a failure.  Is this what neoliberals really think?

          (b) I simply do not believe you or EK that the usability of a web site is that important.  There is ample empirical evidence that ugly web sites can be workable—like all the ones of every insurance I had in the US...

          (c) There is ample empirical evidence that cost is not the determiner of whether government programs are scrapped right away.  The Iraq War and Medicare Part D spring to mind.

          So, no, I don't really believe you.  The Ocare rollout discredits a certain style of governance that is not really that popular outside of think tanks to some degree, just like the Iraq War discredited a certain approach to foreign policy with a similarly narrow audience.  But overall, this looks like so much hyperventilation.

      •  Imagine all the people who THINK they signed up (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cpqemp, stivo

        The thing is so complicated and error prone and lacking in customer service, I'm wondering what happens when people think they have insurance and find out they don't because either they failed to complete a step they didn't realize they needed to complete or their data was bad and never got to the carrier?  

        •  Presumably people will need to get (0+ / 0-)

          physical confirmation of having signed up.  Like insurance cards.  So they will know.

        •  I was told: (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          theran, askew

          1. check your bank account and make sure the payment for your first month's premium happened (by direct debit). (I did, and it did.)
          2. If you haven't gotten something from the insurance company by early December, like a welcome packet + ID card, call us back.

          •  At least they told you somethimg (0+ / 0-)

            I too was just able to confirm that a transaction occurred on my credit card by calling the credit card customer service but so far my state has no customer service so no one can tell you anything about your enrollment at all or when you might receive anything from the carrier.  

            I don't so much fault them on the web site problems as on the overall lack of customer service support.  That probably works better in some states than others.  My state seems to lack a customer service database but maybe they are just way behind on that.  I mean it doesn't have to work perfectly on my browser if they can tell me what data they have but they can't do that at all.  

        •  I would agree, this is a serious concern. (0+ / 0-)

          sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

          by stivo on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 12:47:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  This was a totally unacceptable fuckup.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cpqemp

    ....that gave aid and comfort to the enemies of America.  It was bound to happen, and not because of mission creep, but because there was no single website that could be created and rolled out. By the way, how hard is it create a website? In my state, the two providers had their information up and available before the state rolled out its exchange (the state exchange is still not up and running).

    This isn't a particularly tricky task. But when you have 17 different cooks (the states and the Federal website), you will spoil the broth.

    Also, private contractors were  put on this. And not just one but several, on many different sites. The risk for a fuckup on these sites increased accordingly.

    This was the public face of Obamacare and the government and Sibelius fucked it up with lack of oversight and by not having the government do the job itself.

    You NEVER get a second chance to make a first impression.  I STILL CAN'T APPLY THROUGH MY EXCHANGE AND IT IS ALMOST FRIGGIN' NOVEMBER.

    Americans CAN create a website where you plug in your age, whether you smoke and how many members are in your family and then get a quote.

    How many liberal computer programmers are there? How many in marketing and media? Why didn't we beg google for assistance -- it's what the Republicans would have done.

    We didn't go to our friends though. We went to those who have made a game out of getting government contracts and then fucking them up and requesting more money not to fuck it up even worse.

    If you hate government, don't run for office in that government.

    by Bensdad on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 10:34:54 AM PDT

    •  And it is NOT merely a web site problem! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cpqemp, Bensdad

      My state's website is awful.  It only functions  on one version of IE and specific versions of Chrome and Firefox and then just barely.  

      BUT I could cope with that IF they had customer service.  

      They have NO customer service.  It seems to have never occurred to them that they would need customer service.

      They have Help that can reset passwords.  That's all.  

      They cannot answer a question about your data or your status.  My 92 year old mother functions fine without a computer because if she has a question about her bank account, her credit card, her utilities, her property taxes, her HEALTH INSURANCE, she can call customer service and wait forever sometimes but finally she will get a person who can look up the status of whatever account she wants to know about.  

      Can you call up and find out about your enrollment?  NO!! Can they tell if you are enrolled?  NO!! Can they tell you if you have made a premium payment?  NO!! Can they tell you what insurance policy you might have enrolled in?  NO!!  They can't tell you anything about anything.  

      You can anticipate that a web site may not be perfect in version 1.0 and what do you need if that is likely to be the case?

      CUSTOMER SERVICE.

      I mean at this point I would happy if they connected me with some guy in India, anybody, anywhere, who can answer a question about my account.

  •  Enormous thanks (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    theran

    for this analysis.

    Very clear and simple.

    The importance of understanding and highlighting the difference between the operational imperatives in corporate vs governmental projects goes far beyond the ACA roll out.

    Analogy with Lincoln and the Civil war is apt - it is a war.  More people should understand this.

    ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge -- Charles Darwin

    by jotter on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 10:47:22 AM PDT

  •  The thing that is gallows humor for me in all .... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stivo, i dunno

    ...of this is the laughable idea that 'government can't do anything right' is the lesson we're supposed to learn from this.  Who's failing to deliver?  Private companies that have a government contract that they aren't living up to.  And when that scope changed so dramatically, they could have just walked away and cited their standard scope change clause as a reason to save their name and get out.  But, instead, they chose bags of money and failing to deliver....which private companies do all. the. time.

    I'm in IT myself and I've done numerous spins in corporate IT.  Corporations are also screwing up IT projects all. the. time.  Great and small, critical to business and peripheral.  And IT is constantly critiquing itself and wondering why IT projects fail all the time.

    With that said, the diarist's suggestion that there are binary choices to how corporations would react to finding itself in a situation like healthcare.gov actually doesn't do justice to how corporations actually react to situations like this.  In fact, in my experience, corporations often react exactly like our government has in this situation:  they take their lumps in the public discourse while they keep plugging away with the resources they've got.  They setup 'war rooms' and force all-nighters and long hours and often times the only thanks you get is a verbal one.  No extra money, no extra resources, just elbow grease.  Sometimes it succeeds and sometimes it doesn't.

    I'm just continually bewildered at people who think government is the problem, as though every interaction with a corporation has been sunshine, rainbows, and unicorn farts that smell like freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.  Have they never been burned by an uncaring customer service department?  Never been disappointed and had no recourse?  Never picked up the phone to complain and been stuck fuming at 'Bob' from Bangalore who can't do a damn thing to help them?  I mean, the whole REASON for the ACA was because private insurance companies are raging assholes who put dollars before people.

  •  Fighting amongst ourselves. (0+ / 0-)

    The haters must love it.

    I don't see how healthcare.gov survives. I really don't.

    What is so unnerving about the candidacy of Sarah Palin is the degree to which she represents—and her supporters celebrate—the joyful marriage of confidence and ignorance. SAM HARRIS

    by Cpqemp on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 11:08:02 AM PDT

  •  Why I disagree... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cpqemp

    There was no 'vast spike in scope'.  The exact same functionality was required whether the federal exchange covered one state or all 50.  The traffic load was all that changed by an order of magnitude or two.

    And if the code was designed in such a way that it simply couldn't handle the added traffic, the simple solution was simply to create the 36 state exchanges individually, running the same code on 36 separate sets of servers to eliminate the spike in load on any given set of servers.

    The reality is that many of the problems with the site simply weren't load issues.

    •  Hmm, actually seeing one of your comments further (0+ / 0-)

      down, you actually seem to be saying you thought there would actually be no 'federal exchange', but merely a portal site?  If all that was needed in the first place was 'a portal site', then there never would have been 300 million allotted.  A company with 2-3 employees could have handled a portal site for under a million.

      Besides the added hardware, as noted above, the 'federal exchange' should have been no more difficult to construct than any of the state exchange sites that are working.

    •  Manifestly not the case (0+ / 0-)

      One is a web page with 50 links to state sites that manage all the complexity.

      The other is a web page with 15 links to state sites that manage the complexity and and 35 links to other pages on the federal site that manage the complexity.  By complexity I mean all the interfaces to insurance companies, IRS, privacy issues, etc.

      There's a big difference.

      sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

      by stivo on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 11:35:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Did you read my second comment before replying? (0+ / 0-)

        The one right above your response?

        Yes, if all you expected was a portal linking to 50 other sites, to be honest, 1 coder could have done it for a few thousand dollars plus maybe 50k of servers to handle load.  I said 'under a million' merely to be nice to the government.

        Given 300 million, there were more than enough resources to have put together a site that could have worked.

        The number of coders and DBAs who want to excuse crappy coding and poor design based on the fact that they also were involved in crappy rollouts is sad.    

        The federal site simply had to work as well as any of the state exchanges, and split up the traffic load across extra servers.

        •  I disagree (0+ / 0-)

          Obviously, I exaggerated to make a point.  Even a portal would be more difficult than my napkin-drawing.  But I still don't see how you don't see that there was a vast difference between the two tasks.  The whole nut is the interfaces with the multiple back ends and project management associated with keeping them all together.

          sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

          by stivo on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 01:38:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I do (0+ / 0-)

    not like Ezra Klein.  He always seems to speak and feed into the Rethug's narrative.  Yes, point out the facts, but I still think the exploding liberal (supposedly) heads @ MSNBC really tend to hinder more than help.  Krystal Ball for example.

  •  One thing the diary got wrong... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greenbell

    It was ALWAYS known that a significant number of states would decline to set up exchanges. It was written in the law that they could.

    "Nothing happens unless first a dream. " ~ Carl Sandburg

    by davewill on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 11:36:11 AM PDT

  •  clueless managers with more power than brains (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    looking and listening, StellaRay

    yes.  a thousand times.  yes!

  •  Klein's main problem (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    theran, StellaRay

    He mistakes good Beltway connections and glib fasttalking with intelligence; he thinks he is The Smartest Guy In The Room.

    And he is not.

    “Vote for the party closest to you, but work for the movement you love.” ~ Thom Hartmann 6/12/13

    by ozsea1 on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 12:10:46 PM PDT

  •  Important reminder (0+ / 0-)

    is that the House GOP and state-level GOPers blocked just about everything the Administration tried that could have gotten adequate funding for the task -- Sibelius wanted to move money from other projects, blocked; they asked for more money, blocked; they wanted states that had screamed for state control to actually do their own websites, refused.

    And then the sequester reduced funding for everything by 8.5% or whatever it was, requiring furloughs and creating backlogs in everything the Feds do.

    So the work tripled, and the funding shrank.

    My major complaint is that instead of being forthright about this, the Administration kept putting out rosy press releases about how everything was going to be ready to roll 100% at 12:01 on Oct. 1. But I can see how they got there, since any admission of problems would have doubled and tripled the "Shut it down! Shut it down! Repeal it now!" chanting in Congress.

  •  As a side note (0+ / 0-)

    The equivalents of Ezra Klein did indeed lambast Lincoln all through the war for trying to hold the union together.

    Lincoln had a hell of a lot of opposition in his own camp, and had McClellan won the 1862 election, the Confederate States would be a separate country, very likely to this day, possibly with slavery intact in 2013.

  •  There’s no excuse for these problems. (0+ / 0-)
    There’s no excuse for these problems.
    the website that’s supposed to make it easy to apply for insurance hasn’t been working
    the website’s well-documented errors are unacceptable
    the website really stank for the first week
    What that guy said.  link
    If you can't admit it's broken, how are you going to fix it?
  •  History Won't Be Kind To Ezra Klein (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sebastianguy99

    "Don't Let Them Catch You With Your Eyes Closed"

    by rssrai on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 02:49:51 PM PDT

  •  Here's a narrative; US tax money should go to US (0+ / 0-)

    citizens and contractors wherever possible. The notion that these millions went to a Canadian company instead of the numerous US companies that could have done an equal or better job is absurd. Or don't Democrats care about government stimulus anymore?

    Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room!

    by bigtimecynic on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 03:24:06 PM PDT

  •  ok but I still don't know what walsh and klein (0+ / 0-)

    disagree on

  •  And people think single payer will be easy peasy (0+ / 0-)

    It won't be and it will be worse.

    Self sabotage isn't helpful no matter if it comes from Blue Dogs/ConservaDems or from some other segment of the Left believing that what is needed is to make things worse.

    The other side has been selling crap for decades and we let a website glitch become an existential crisis.

    The politicians may be bought, and the system corrupt, but it is our duty to fix these things.

    by sebastianguy99 on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 04:22:46 PM PDT

  •  eh cant agree (0+ / 0-)

    part of this was the lets just roll it out even though we know it isnt ready part of things.  There were ways to say, hey we are delaying this because it's not quite ready yet.

  •  great diary. two points, especially: 1) this is (0+ / 0-)

    war, & klein hasn't realized it, yet . . . & 2) single payer would have been waaaay better & simpler.

    btw, years ago the fbi decided to upgrade its computer system. $400 million (& counting) later, it STILL doesn't work -- but you'll never hear a bad word spoken about the fbi by anyone on the right -- or withholding of funds, either.

    tip'd & rec'd.

  •  Stop making excuses for the government (0+ / 0-)

    WHen there was scope explosion, the people delegated tyo manage that scope should have been put on notice and made to apologize for their blunder. Yes, this kind of thing is actually not uncommon even inthe private sector and is a lot more common in the public sector. But we are supposed to be better than the repubs, not the same. You need accountability. Sebelius was a freaking embarassment the way she handled it. She should have been proactive and warned the public to be patient with any glitches and said the rollout would continue as planned but it would take a few months to make it a smoother experience. THey could have even slowed the rollout and have a phased rollout and used some criteria to give priority to certain applicants.

    I am not against big government. But I believe a government has to earn that right to expand and when they make thexse kind of blunders in tech management, what makes the common man think of their competence in other areas of management ?

    •  Dear President Obama (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rsmpdx, jayden, kefauver

      "I apologize for not resisting when your administration forced me to allow the scope of the ACA to be expanded beyond what the budget allowed."

      That the kind of apology you're looking for?

      Warned the public to be patient with the glitches?   Isn't that EXACTLY what they've been saying?

      Sorry, I just don't see the alternate better path that appears so obvious to you.

      sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

      by stivo on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 06:31:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually, you miss the point (0+ / 0-)

        What you are saying is  NOT the same as making excuses AFTER the fact. They should have known a month ago that this site would not be working properly. There are memos about it, I think, maybe as recent as 3 weeks ago. Being upfront of this would have defused the situation.

        Sure, as i acknowledged, the republivcans would have still bitched, but they would have not gotten any traction in the news. Look at how stupid they look for raising HIPAA issues.

        THere is a long belated apology by the CMS head. Sebeliius still refuses to express any sincere regret.

        I work for a vendor that does VA software. When they were making noise about 508 compliance in an unrealistically short time frame, I pretty much gave reports saying it won't be done in time, but it would be managable if they can make do with 90% compliance.  We never overpromised things. And when upper management does overpromise, I have no problem with the government punishing them or penalizing the company. For some of us, integrity and accountability matters.

        •  OK (0+ / 0-)

          Thanks for the information.  Glad to see you're a fellow developer with integrity.  However, I think the situation you describe and this one are different.

          Quite simply the stakes were higher here.  The situation would not have been defused.  We just witnessed a three week government shutdown to stop it from going into effect.

          I have found that while in many situations, honesty is the best policy (and it's certainly the ideal to be striven for), when faced with this level of hostility, any candidness about flaws will be treated as a sign of weakness, ammunition in this case for the GOP's "delay" demand.

          This was such a situation.  It was not going to be defused.

          sTiVo's rule: Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove that THEY did it.

          by stivo on Wed Oct 30, 2013 at 03:36:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think it would make a difference with moderates (0+ / 0-)

            Like I said, I agree with you on one thing - republicans would still whine and bitch about this regardless of what measures the government took to mitigate this. But that does not concern me. However, there are a lot of non extremists, just regular people, who are getting a bad opinion of government(just based on conversations I hear, true, this is very anecdotal). I personally believe that could have been defused if they were upfront about it a few weeks ago.

            I undersetand sometimes you dont want to divulge way too much in advance because things could work out your way and why unnecessarily go there. But in this case, from what I am reading, it looks like people in power should have known there was a very high probability of this happening anyway. Just take preemptive action on the spin.

            Explain very clearly what happened and how the scope increased and that things will still start on time , just not at the pace they were hoping for.

  •  Walsh: "Fix the website, Mr. President, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jayden

    but don’t stop talking about what the ACA is getting accomplished while you do."

    As long as we're highlighting Walsh's wisdom, we should be pushing PPACA's successes as she advises Obama to do.

    brainwrap's Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) Signups/Applications (w/Medicaid Expansion) is up to 862,419.

    Oregon is up to about 67,500 people signed up, including Medicare expansion. This is a reduction of 11.5% of the 584,903 people previously uninsured.

    I am shopping for a plan for my wife and son (I'm on Medicare).

    I'm helping my sister, a small business owner in Houston find an agent to get her enrolled through the federal exchange, so she can flip the bird to Rick Perry, for his betrayal of the good people of Texas. She's advising all her friends and colleagues to enroll in plans that work for them.

    Does PPACA deserve criticism? Of course it does, from a number of viewpoints.

    However, because we must, we are going to make PPACA work! Help make it happen for yourself, your family, your friends, your state!

    I can't help it. I love the state of Texas. It's a harmless perversion. - Molly Ivins

    by rsmpdx on Tue Oct 29, 2013 at 10:16:37 PM PDT

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