Obamacare fiasco yields long list of losers

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Pollsters are scrambling to figure out whom the voters blame more for the impasse in Washington and the ensuing federal government shutdown.

In the stalled, shape-shifting debate over Obamacare and the debt ceiling, who are the winners and who are the losers?

Well, the Steelers lost last week, and they didn't even play. The storied football organization opened Heinz Field Thursday for an Obamacare event headlined by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and despite the Rooney appeal, about 100 people showed up.

How many exactly? Most local news organizations declined to report this Journalism 101 info.

Those who did bother to attend found a government website, healthcare.gov -- three years in the making, at a cost the New York Times puts at more than $400 million -- that still does not function.

Disappointed or outraged participants emailed KDKA radio talk host Marty Griffin to complain, prompting Mr. Griffin to propose that HHS be renamed HUH. As in, "It still doesn't work? Huh ..."

The only winner here was Mr. Griffin, who got a humorous mother lode to mine all morning long.

And the losers? Ms. Sebelius, for one, who mistakenly thinks that 13 million visits over nine days is an "extraordinary" amount of traffic for a site to handle.

The taxpayers lose, having spent millions on an inoperable website.

For the Steelers, it's a draw: Anyone not already turned off by the Rooney-Obama alliance isn't suddenly going to be alienated by this debacle; some might even find it cheering.

There are myriad other participants to consider.

Most of them, sadly, belong in the "losers" column, including but not limited to:

• Citizens instructed to get up in the middle of the night to see if it's any easier to log onto the Obamacare registration website. (It isn't.)

• Citizens who have seen their insurance premiums skyrocket. Forget the scare stories -- Forbes Magazine published an analysis that found premiums are going up almost everywhere (not Colorado or New Hampshire).

• Citizens, especially senior citizens, who have found out that, contrary to the president's promise, they cannot keep the doctors they like.

More losers? The taxpayers being jerked around by the lie that the U.S. might suddenly default on its debt. In the shutdown, which right-leaning groups more accurately call a "slimdown," the Treasury is still raking in its huge portion of our hard-earned dollars.

The 14th Amendment requires the government to honor its debt -- although that obligation could threaten the 30 percent of the federal budget considered "discretionary" (i.e. military expenditures and education but not, say, Social Security and Medicaid).

Still more losers? College-educated people who believed an "insurance marketplace" funneled through the federal government would be more efficient and affordable than a truly free market.

Republican leaders who ridiculously thought voters suddenly forced to pay attention to politics because park closures ruined their vacation would thank Republicans for this enormous inconvenience? They lose.

And voters who want to keep their doctors, see true competition and thus lower prices, and can't reasonably expect a Democrat-dominated federal government to seek those goals? We lose.

But the loser-in-chief?

President Barack Obama, whose administration barricaded national memorials that are free and open to the public, a gesture that provoked Hollywood star James Woods to risk his career by tweeting that the president is "a small, small man."

Which leads us to the scant handful of winners:

• James Woods.

• And the friend who encouraged him, post-tweet -- widely admired actor ("Forrest Gump") and unequaled fundraiser for veterans Gary Sinise.

• The New York Times, Jon Stewart and Wolf Blitzer, who finally have something in this administration they can find fault with, thus restoring neutrality.

• Also winners: The frugal members of Congress who live in their offices and need their Capitol gym bathrooms to stay open (though not staffed), so they can shower. They win -- as does anyone within sniffing distance.


Ruth Ann Dailey: ruthanndailey@hotmail.com. First Published October 13, 2013 8:00 PM


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