The Four Most Worrisome Things Kathleen Sebelius Told CNN

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 23 2013 11:55 AM

The Four Most Worrisome Things Kathleen Sebelius Told CNN

185486003
Kathleen Sebelius' interview with Sanjay Gupta didn't provide much hope that healthcare.gov will get less glitchy any time soon.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Recently, I was talking to a congressional Democrat who was fully confident that Obamacare would cease to be an effective Republican issue by November 2014. Plenty of Democrats agree; plenty of Republicans, too. This was something Ted Cruz kept worrying about, into live mics—September 2013 was the "last chance" to defund Obamacare because the law would become more popular once exchanges started and subsidies started flowing like cheap wine at your cousin Andre's wedding reception.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

What worried this Democrat? A healthcare.gov imbroglio lasting more than a few weeks. If that was all it took? Fine. If it took months, rolling into 2014? Well. That was a problem that reset Democratic gains from the shutdown.

Advertisement

I had this in mind when I read the transcript of CNN's interview of Kathleen Sebelius, conducted by Sanjay Gupta, who was considered as the Obama administration's surgeon general. (He passed because CNN-->executive branch is a serious pay cut.) Several times Sebelius hinted at how damn long it would take for the Best and Brightest coders to dig out.*

1) "If we had an ideal situation and could have built the product in, you know, a five-year period of time, we probably would have taken five years. But we didn’t have five years."

2) "The issue is, will people be able to sign up for affordable health care in the six months' open enrollment period?"

3) "We anticipated at the outset that everyone would never use the website. That needs to be part of the opportunity."

That last answer borders on gibberish, but I guess the secretary is trying to say she expected more people to call in? To sign up via in-person navigators? Either way, she's saying that the problems were forseeable, and that they'll last. She's dug in for a couple weeks of battering from House Republicans. On that, you should read Brian Beutler to understand why Republicans prefer to focus on healthcare.gov than the systems in states that actually built exchanges.

*4) When did "the Best and the Brightest" become acceptable as an actual term for smart people who could fix things? I thought it became darkly ironic decades ago.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

History

The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

The GOP Senate Candidate in Iowa Doesn’t Want Voters to Know Just How Conservative She Really Is

Does Your Child Have “Sluggish Cognitive Tempo”? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

Naomi Klein Is Wrong

Multinational corporations are doing more than governments to halt climate change.

The Strange History of Wives Gazing at Their Husbands in Political Ads

Television

See Me

Transparent is the fall’s only great new show.

Doublex

Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD

The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
Moneybox
Sept. 30 2014 12:04 PM John Hodgman on Why He Wore a Blue Dress to Impersonate Ayn Rand
  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 30 2014 1:38 PM Mad About Modi
 Why the controversial Indian prime minister drew 19,000 cheering fans to Madison Square Garden.

  Business
Building a Better Workplace
Sept. 30 2014 1:16 PM You Deserve a Pre-cation The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.
  Life
Education
Sept. 30 2014 1:48 PM Thrashed Florida State’s new president is underqualified and mistrusted. But here’s how he can turn it around.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 30 2014 11:42 AM Listen to Our September Music Roundup Hot tracks from a cooler month, exclusively for Slate Plus members.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 12:42 PM How to Save Broken Mayonnaise
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 11:55 AM The Justice Department Is Cracking Down on Sales of Spyware Used in Stalking
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 30 2014 7:30 AM What Lurks Beneath the Methane Lakes of Titan?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.