Pages Menu

Categories Menu

Posted on Dec 25, 2013 in Congress, Elections-U.S., Obamacare, President Obama, Public Opinion Polls | 1 comment

Community Development Model first screwed up the substance of Obamacare and now its registration roll out

For all of his good intentions, and statesmanlike bearing, which is especially important on the international stage, Barak Obama has proven woefully weak first, in getting his agenda through a recalcitrant Congress, and now in administering the roll-out of his most salient legislative success, the Affordable Health Care Act.

Relying heavily upon his experiences in community relations and organizing, he has time and again used techniques that proved inept at the national level. For example, he has eschewed the advice known to even basic government students, namely that the “President proposes and Congress disposes,” in favor of a local consensus-building model that tosses the initiative for legislation to Congress. This led to a monstrosity of a hodge-podge health care legislation in the early part of his first term, when Congress was in Democratic hands. Following mid-term loss of the House of Representatives, he was easily stymied by a Congress where “do-nothing” was an effective political strategy in frustrating the Obama agenda. His strategies frittered away some of the basic powers that accrue to anyone sitting in the Oval Office.

Besides failing to set the parameters of congressional debate-to-come, Barak Obama failed to use one of the Presidency’s most effective modes, what Teddy Roosevelt called “The Bully Pulpit.” How ironic that one of the most eloquent sitting Presidents since Franklin Roosevelt should have failed to use tools at his disposal that would have allowed him to lead from his strength. By failing to use that power to such a degree, in his first term, he set the stage for the relatively negative orientation that Americans have towards his landmark legislative success: The Affordable Health Care Act that is more commonly known as Obamacare.

If he failed to use the Bully Pulpit to shape a positive orientation from the public towards Obamacare, following enactment, in his administration of the Acts enrollment process he has managed to achieve an even worse grade. The confusion and turmoil that accompanied the enrollment mechanism alone suggests a system of control in development that was too loose, to be generous in describing this mess.

As with his dealings with Congress, The President once again used methods that are more appropriate to Community Relations. At the Community level you rely on a horizontal model of decision-making. You bring the actors into the process. As long as there are well-intentioned people involved, such supervision as exists will emerge from the ranks. And all will not only go well but the participants will feel good about the project being their baby. At the national level, the President selected quality people for the high level supervisory roles and pretty much turned the process of decision-making to them. They in turn delegated authority based upon layers of teamwork. Former Governor and now Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, headed the institution of the enrollment process. And she, in turn delegated decision-making to Bill Corr and others. They in turn delegated authority supposedly based on involvement and, at some point, the delegating of authority to the professional bureaucrats became a case of the inmates guarding the institution. This method of delegating decision-making disregards the need for feedback mechanisms that could have caught the mess early on. A time-line, at least, with information about how well the deadlines were being met should have been constantly assessed and sent back up the chain. By thus and such a time, the system should be able to do this and/or that. Here’s the catch, good news travels both down and up the chain, while bad news, without effective feedback mechanisms does not travel up the chain of command. People like to keep their jobs. And it is up to an effective administration to assure that accurate feedback is gathered, and that people with sufficient expertise to assess the meaning of that feedback are involved. This obviously was not the case. Nor were they set up to handle the volume and variety of input they would encounter. I have yet to meet the person who understands the Act well enough to answer even a short session of questioning. If few people even understand it, and fewer still among those responsible for seeing that the enrollment process functions smoothy understood the information technology, well the web-site’s woes may just be the tip on a very messy iceberg. Count on it, Republicans speeches this election cycle will souond like: ‘Obamacare, Obamacare and Obamacare.”

Martin, The Pragmatic Liberal-writing on


1 Comment

  1. Hi Marty!!!
    I’m your cousin!! Birdie’s daughter, Lenore!
    I, being a progressive liberal, know I’ll enjoy your blog and more than likely agree with most of it! … and if/when my mom comes back to visit me, here in Tucson (yes, a red state, but Pima County, where I live, is blue!), I’ll sit her down at my computer to read your blog!
    So nice to find you and your blog!!
    Lenore Kadish

Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *