Obama: Republicans Are “Rooting” for Obamacare Failure

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 26 2013 1:11 PM

Obama: Republicans Are “Rooting” for Obamacare Failure

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President Barack Obama speaks at Pathways in Technology Early College High School, in Brooklyn, New York on October 25

Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama all but called Republicans hypocrites in his weekly address Saturday. The president said it was “interesting” how members of the GOP are expressing concern about how people are having trouble accessing the health insurance exchanges website, “considering they’ve spent the last few years so obsessed with denying those same people access to health insurance that they just shut down the government and threatened default over it.” Obama once again insisted he’s willing to talk about ideas that could make the law work better. “But it’s well past the time for folks to stop rooting for its failure,” he said.

Obama’s comments came after a week where the true extent of failures in the Obamacare insurance marketplaces became clear. On Friday, the administration vowed to fix everything by the end of November. Yet much damage has already been done. “The depth of the design flaws has raised questions about why the Obama administration was so insistent on starting the enrollments on October 1 when the system was clearly not ready—and laid bare the president's mistake in raising expectations about how good the website was going to be,” points out Reuters.

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The Associated Press says Republicans have good reason for continually harping on the failure of the Obamacare rollout. For years they’ve failed at seizing on a scandal with staying power. But this one may just be what they’ve been looking for, considering it affects millions of Americans and is easy to understand for anyone with an Internet connection. It’s also easy for Republicans to extend the failures of the rollout as an example of wider problems with a law that has long been unpopular with the American public in general.

And although patching up the site may not be an easy task—fixing a complex site once it’s up and running “is like trying to repair a car while it’s driving 50 miles per hour,” notes the Hill—it’s only the first step. Then the administration and states with leadership that actively support the law have to make sure enough people, particularly healthy people, sign up. “Even if the website recovers, its more-than-wobbly launch has already deepened public skepticism about Obamacare and federal activism in general,” writes the Los Angeles Times’ Doyle McManus.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.