Is The Shutdown Bailing The White House Out on Obamacare?

A blog about business and economics.
Oct. 13 2013 11:05 AM

Is The Shutdown Bailing The White House Out on Obamacare?

183959794
MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 10: People are getting confused.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Robert Pear, Sharon LaFranier, and Ian Austin gave us today the best reporting I've seen yet on what went wrong in the Department of Health and Human Services and the White House in terms of supervising the contractors who were supposed to build the federal health care exchange digital technology. You should read their story and you should supplement with David Auerbach's great pieces for Slate on what the actual technical issues are.

But here's some reporting from me. Back in the first week of the month, I was in Philadelphia and someone asked me if the reason HealthCare.gov wasn't working was that the people running the site were furloughed because of the shutdown. I explained that no that isn't the case and these are just two unrelated things that happened the same week in politics. Then in Cleveland last week a cab driver who found I was coming from DC explained to me how outrageous he thought it was that Republicans had shut down the websites that would have let him sign up for health insurance. And a bartender told me the GOP is getting what it wants out of the shutdown—Obamacare isn't launching.

Advertisement

Which is to say that I think a large share of people don't realize that this problems with the Affordable Care Act IT infrastructure have very little to do with Republicans and basically nothing to do with the shutdown.

After all, it's confusing. Republicans did shut the government down. They did shut the government down in order to stop Obamacare. The shutdown came on the same week that Obamacare's websites were supposed to launch. And for many people, the websites are not in fact working. So it's natural—but wrong—to think that the non-functionality of the websites is the shutdown. It seems to be the case that many grassroots conservatives believed, pre-shutdown, that the Ted Cruz strategy could actually prevent Obamacare from launching. And now it seems to be the case that many grassroots liberals believe, in the wake of the botched website launch, that it's Ted Cruz rather than IT contractors and their overseers in the administration who've screwed things up.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

Sports Nut

Grandmaster Clash

One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

Uh-Oh. The World’s Oceans Have Broken Their All-Time Heat Record.

The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”

Future Tense

How to Keep Apple From Sharing Your iPhone Data With the Police

Food

How to Order Chinese Food

First, stop thinking of it as “Chinese food.”

A Simple Way to Keep Apple From Sharing Your iPhone Data With the Police

The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant

The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 11:40 AM The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 18 2014 8:20 PM A Clever Attempt at Explaining Away a Vote Against the Farm Bill
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 18 2014 6:02 PM A Chinese Company Just Announced the Biggest IPO in U.S. History
  Life
Outward
Sept. 18 2014 4:15 PM Reactions to a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Reveal Transmisogyny
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 18 2014 8:07 PM Crying Rape False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Every Day That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 4:33 PM The Top 5 Dadsplaining Moments From The Cosby Show
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 6:48 PM By 2100 the World's Population Could Be 11 Billion
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 18 2014 7:30 AM Red and Green Ghosts Haunt the Stormy Night
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.