On Tuesday evening, left-wing Politico ran a headline story encapsulating the theme of the day: “Government closed, Obamacare falters.” That message marked a massive loss for the Obama administration, which has claimed that Obamacare’s implementation could not be delayed, and used that rationale as an excuse to reject the House’s proposal for a one-year delay in favor of a government shutdown.
The narrative began to shift early in the morning on Tuesday, when the Drudge Report ran a lead piece on the Obamacare health exchanges coming up with error messages for users across the country. “OBAMACRASH,” Drudge headlined. He followed that headline with another: “HAPPY OBAMACARE DAY,” accompanied by a smiley birthday face. The topic had been shifted. Now the question wasn’t whether the government should be shut down over Obamacare. Now the question was why in the world the Obama administration hadn’t insisted on an Obamacare delay rather than rushing a disastrously glitch-prone program to the public.
President Obama and his allies spent the rest of the day on defense, attempting to play off the major errors in the system as a result of user overload. Even as Obmaa sent a letter to every federal employee trying to blame the government shutdown on Congressional Republicans, Obama himself tried to spin the exchange blackout as a victory for Obamacare: “Like every new law, every new product roll out, there are going to be some glitches in the sign up process along the way that we will fix. I’ve been saying this from the start…. we’re going to be speeding things up in the next few hours to handle all of this demand that exceeds anything that we had expected.”
The media picked up on the Obama administration’s new argument, with Bloomberg headlining, “Obamacare Exchanges Debut With Demand High on Slow Sites.” The New York Times followed suit, headlining, “Insurance Markets Open Amid Heavy Volume and Delays.”
But what, exactly, was the expected demand? The Obama administration contended that there were some 30 million Americans without health insurance; about 2.8 million reportedly visited Healthcare.gov on opening day. On Tuesday, Americans got their first look of the healthcare exchanges – websites reading, “The System is down at the moment.”
The bigger problem for Obamacare is the myriad complex barriers required from would-be consumers in navigating Obamacare, and the reams of new regulations with which both doctors and patients will have to contend. That’s something Americans will learn over the coming weeks and months. And as they find out that the website failures were not mere glitches but symptoms of a greater disease, they will undoubtedly question just why President Obama was so eager to shut down the government to launch a program that will never be ready to help the American people.
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).