By The Hill Editors - 10/21/13 11:52 PM EDT
The woes of ObamaCare and — especially its website — are now front and center.
The fiscal showdown dominated news cycles this month, but with a deal signed, the story now is healthcare.gov.
President Obama on Monday discussed its “kinks,” saying, “No one is madder than me that the website isn’t working as it should — which means it’s going to get fixed.”
Republicans, wounded from the debt-ceiling fight, want to switch from defense to attack and see the disabling website malfunctions as their opportunity. They demand that Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen SebeliusKathleen SebeliusRomney: Trump victory 'very possible' Fighting for assisted living facilities The chaotic fight for ObamaCare MORE testify on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the administration has repeatedly refused to reveal how many people have enrolled in insurance plans. That information won’t be released until next month. The old maxim that bad numbers take longer to add up than good ones seems to apply here.
Speaking of bad numbers, congressional Democrats are pleased with recent polls showing the GOP’s popularity in decline. But the Dems are worried about the implementation of ObamaCare.
They have good reason: Its woes are legion and prominent. In a front-page, above-the-fold story on Monday, The New York Times reported that the website could be weeks away from operating smoothly. Consumer Reports advises people not to visit the site for at least a month.
Former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs recently said on MSNBC that the website snafu is “excruciatingly embarrassing for the White House and HHS. This was bungled badly.”
Some Republicans, including Sen. Pat RobertsPat RobertsSenate panel approves pension rescue for coal miners Congress set for Saudi showdown with Obama GOP pressures Kerry on Russia's use of Iranian airbase MORE (Kan.) and Rep. John FlemingJohn FlemingGOP grills IRS chief on impeachment Louisiana Republicans: This isn’t like Sandy GOP averts vote on impeaching IRS commissioner MORE (La.), have called on Sebelius to resign.
The White House has stood by her. She is one of the few Cabinet secretaries who has stayed on for Obama’s second term.
Republicans mishandled ObamaCare by linking its defunding to reopening the government and raising the debt ceiling. It was a doomed project; they never had the votes, and they knew it.
But now Republicans are fighting on better ground, and the president’s team is scrambling to fix a website that has many flaws.