After weeks of tech problems that have embarrassed the Obama administration, officials now say that HealthCare.gov will be running smoothly by the end of November. If they don't meet this deadline, the administration may be facing political disaster.
For weeks, Republicans have been attempting to use the tech problems as an indication of the faults of the entire Affordable Care Act (ACA). To some degree, they have already been successful in spinning their narrative that the law is full of bugs even beyond its website.
"There is a fundamental problem with the defense that 'the computer is bad, the law is good, which the president made today: It's not true. The administration in fact has delayed significant provisions precisely because those don't work either (e.g. the employer mandate, the out-of-pocket cap). The loss in coverage and the not-so-affordable costs of insurance don't have to do with the website; these issue have to do with the assumptions and incentives built into the law."
His speech on Monday in the Rose Garden was functionally a 27-minute long infomercial that included phrases like, "The Affordable Care Act is not just a website, it's much more" and "Call centers are already up and running, and you can get your questions answered by real people, 24 hours a day, in 150 different languages. The phone number for these call centers is 1-800-318-2596. I want to repeat that: 1-800-318-2596."
Both of those quotes are pulled right from the transcript.
Forty-eight percent of Americans disapprove of ObamaCare right now, compared to 41% who support it. This frustration with the the technological blocks to enrollment will certainly increase those numbers. If Obama can't prove that the 48% are wrong by the end of this month, the game will certainly be called.
Glitzy speeches promising cheap payments and a wondrous product will only get the president so far. At some point, he has to deliver the goods.