TheWhite House and the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department claimPresident Barack Obama and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius held
They have, however, stonewalled requests by reporters torelease the dates of the alleged and undocumented meetings–none of which appear on the official White House calendar.
On Tuesday, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) sent Sebelius a letter requesting a detailed list of the days she alleges to have met privately with Obama and blasting her “lack of transparency and disregard for straight answers.”
The reason for Obama and Sebelius’s obfuscation over the President’s level of executive leadership, oversight, and management of the Obamacare debacle is simple. If the Obama administration’s list of allegedone-on-one meetings between Obama and Sebelius contains a singlemeeting between April 4, 2013, and October 1, 2013, the White House isin danger of revealing President Obama to have been dishonest during hisnow-infamous November 14, 2013, press conference wherein he uttered this curiously worded phrase:
I was not informed directly[emphasis added] that the website would not be working as–the way itwas supposed to. Had I been informed, I wouldn’t be going out saying,’Boy, this is going to be great.’ You know, I’m accused of a lot ofthings, but I don’t think I’m stupid enough to go around saying, ‘thisis going to be like shopping on Amazon or Travelocity,’ a week beforethe website opens, if I thought that it wasn’t going to work. So,clearly, we and I did not have enough awareness about the problems inthe website.
The timeline below chronicles that the administration knew months before HealthCare.gov‘sdisastrous October 1 rollout that critical problems existed, and it isriddled with embarrassing statements and mistakes that raise seriousquestions about what Obama knew and when he knew it.
WithObama’s trustworthiness, credibility, and approval ratings now nosediving, the White House and Democrats cannot afford further erosionof the public’s perception of Obama’s leadership, especially among independent voters who weigh effectiveness traits more heavily than ideological positions. Howvoters judge Obama’s performance as the chief executive tasked withleading and managing his signature legislative achievement, Obamacare,will have dramatic consequences on the outcome of the 2014 midtermelections.
March 23, 2010: President Barack Obama signs the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) into law.
April 4, 2013: According to a 15-page McKinsey & Co. documentobtained by the Energy and Commerce Committee, Secretary Sebelius,Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator MarilynTavenner, and others are warned in a briefing that an ideal situationwould be “end-to-end integrated operations and IT testing,” but that thesituation at the time was one with “insufficient time and scope ofend-to-end testing.” The document also cautions that a “limited initiallaunch” would be ideal, but that a “launch at full volume” was, instead,the plan, reported NBC News.
April 18, 2013: Incommittee testimony, Secretary Sebelius fails to mention the April 4warnings from McKinsey & Co. Instead, she promises: “We are on trackand the contracts have been led and we are monitoring it every stepalong the way… I can tell you we are on track.”
July 16, 2013: Healthcare.gov Manager Henry Chao states in an emailto CMS officials his low level of confidence in contractor work,saying, “I just need to feel more confident they are not going to crashthe plane at take-off.”
August 6, 2013: Amid concerns that HealthCare.gov‘sSHOP small business marketplace may be delayed, CMS Office ofInformation Services Director Monique Outerbridge sends officials an emailthat reads: “Guys, this is absolutely urgent and I need an answer onthis today. If this is late we have to public [sic] announce we are latewith a deliverable which means [CMS Adminstrator] Marilyn Tavenner andthe Secretary will have to announce.”
September 30, 2013: According to the New York Times, documentsreleased by House investigators reveal that “the ‘testing bulletin’suggested the website as of Sept. 30 could handle only about 1,100 usersat a time, even though officials had said it should have been able toaccommodate perhaps as many as 60,000.”
October 1, 2013: The $630 million HealthCare.gov online insurance marketplace goes live and crashes minutes after launch.
October 13, 2013: White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough adds a nightly 7 o’clock meeting in his office to demand updates. According to the New York Times,McDonough, mocking his ‘countdown calendar,’ which they viewed as micromanagement.”
October 22, 2013: In a CNN interview with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Secretary Sebelius claims that the first time President Obama learned of the Healthcare.govproblems was “the first couple of days” after the site went live onOct. 1, 2013. “But not before that?” Dr. Gupta followed up. “No, sir,”said Sebelius.
November 14, 2013: President Barack Obama claimsin a White House press conference: “I was not informed directly thatthe website would not be working as–the way it was supposed to. Had Ibeen informed, I wouldn’t be going out saying, ‘Boy, this is going to begreat.’ You know, I’m accused of a lot of things, but I don’t think I’mstupid enough to go around saying, ‘this is going to be like shoppingon Amazon or Travelocity,’ a week before the website opens, if I thoughtthat it wasn’t going to work. So, clearly, we and I did not have enoughawareness about the problems in the website.”
November 29, 2013: President Obama saysin an ABC News interview with Barbara Walters, “We’re evaluatingwhy it is exactly that I didn’t know soon enough that it wasn’t going towork the way it needed to. But my priority now has been to just makesure that it works.”
December 4, 2013: GAI President Peter Schweizer appears on Hannity to announce the findings of the GAI’s forthcoming report on President Obama and Sec. Sebelius’s lack of one-on-one meetings in the years leading up to the launch of HealthCare.gov.
December 5, 2013: Politico Magazine publishes an article by Government Accountability Institute President Peter Schweizer highlighting the GAI’s study that found the White House’s official calendar lists zeroone-on-one meetings between President Obama and Sec. Sebelius from July12, 2010, to Nov. 30, 2013 (the full range of dates available on thecalendar), and that Obama met 277 times during that period with otherCabinet secretaries. The GAI study also analyzed the Politico presidential calendar and found a single recorded meeting on April 21, 2010, which also included then-Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
December 6, 2013: HHS Spokesperson Joanne Peters claims in a statement:becoming Secretary. She is frequently at the White House for meetingsrelated to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, includingdozens with the President in the last year alone. In fact, she met withthe President just yesterday.”
Also on December 6, NBC News reporter Peter Alexander asksWhite House Press Secretary Jay Carney whether the GAI’s report “drawssome questions about the president’s leadership skills as the chiefexecutive.” Carney claimsthe GAI report “is based on a ridiculously false premise.” ABC Newsreporter Jonathan Karl then followed up with two additional questions onthe GAI’s report. Carney says that “Cabinet secretaries don’t regularlyget entered into the White House visitors logs, [though] they comefrequently. Kathleen Sebelius comes frequently, and she meets frequentlywith the President.” Carney added that it is “safe to say KathleenSebelius has been one of the more frequent attendees to meetings withthe President.”
GAI President Peter Schweizer offers the following response in a Politico Magazine update:
The White House’s response to the GAI calendar investigation is absurd and alarming.
PressSecretary Jay Carney said Friday, “Cabinet secretaries don’t regularlyget entered into the visitor logs.” The GAI report was not based onvisitor logs; it was based on the White House’s own calendar and thePOLITICO presidential calendar.
Obama’scalendar lists 277 one-on-one meetings between the president and hisother Cabinet secretaries, including 73 with former Secretary Clintonand 57 with former Secretary Geithner. If, as Carney claims, SecretarySebelius “is here a lot and meets with the president with regularity,”why aren’t they listed? How many meetings took place and when did theyoccur? Carney said he doesn’t know.
Andif Obama and Sebelius worked together closely and regularly, why didthe president publicly state he did not know about the problems with HealthCare.gov?
December 7, 2013: On CNN’s Newsroom, David Gergen, former counselor to four U.S. presidents, including Pres. Clinton, discusses the GAI report and says,House. What seems to me is there’s a case of nearmalfeasance here,” and he called the revelation a big deal. “The fact thathe was not meeting with her one-on-one, I think, frankly, is not so muchan indictment of her but of the White House operation,” he said. Gergen also said that “at the same time three years pass with no one-on-onemeetings according to this Politico article, the President had 277 one-on-one meetings with other members of his cabinet.”
December 11, 2013:Secretary Kathleen Sebelius appears to testify before the House Energyand Commerce Committee. When Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) asks Sebeliusabout her one-on-one meetings with Obama, the HHS Secretary appears flustered:
“How many times did you actually visit with the President since 2009 or 2010 when you came on board?” asked Rep. Phil Gingrey(R-GA), who is also a medical doctor. “How many personal visits did youhave with him at the White House regarding the Affordable Care Act?”
“A lot,” said Sebelius.
“Can you verify that?” asked Gingrey.
The chair then said, “The Gentleman’s time has expired.”
“I, I…,” a flustered Sebelius said while raising her hands in the air.
Following the hearing, Rep. Gingrey tellsBreitbart News that Sebelius’s “evasiveness” and her inability “toanswer basic questions” have prompted him to ask Sebelius to settle theissue once and for all and to tell Sebelius to turn over the precisedates of the “countless” one-on-one meetings she claims to have had withObama in the over three-and-a-half years leading up to Obamacare’sdisastrous launch.
Thatevening, Fox News host Sean Hannity asks Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) thefollowing: “Have we been able to confirm if they had any meetings since2010?”
“Not to my knowledge. No. Look, this is inexcusable,” saidLee. “This is absolutely unpardonable, the fact that there was thislittle oversight going on in the launching of this significant anenterprise–an enterprise in which the government is very ill equipped toact.”
December 17, 2013: Rep. Phil Gingrey sends Sebelius a letter requesting a list of the dates she alleges to have met with President Obama–dates that do not appear on the White House’s official calendar.
ABC News, FOX News, NBC News, CNN, Politico Magazine, Breitbart News, TIME, Washington Post, Daily Caller, TownHall, Kansas City Star,NewsMax, and other media outlets have all covered the GovernmentAccountability Institute’s (GAI) report showing that the White Housecalendar and Politico presidential calendar list just a singleone-on-one meeting between President Barack Obama and Health and HumanServices (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius from the day Obamacare wassigned into law (March 23, 2010) to November 30, 2013.
Yet,to date, neither the White House nor HHS have released the “countless”dates during which each claims Obama and Sebelius held one-on-onemeetings over three-and-a-half years of work on Obamacare, a programthat affects one-sixth of the U.S. economy and will cost taxpayers $2.6 trillion over the next decade.