You could sum up HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ entire appearance before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday with her response to a question about whether President Obama should be held responsible for the failure of his signature achievement, a response that has already become a viral Internet sensation: “Uh, whatever.”
That’s what all of her testimony boiled down to. She doesn’t understand the law she’s enforcing – when asked why she wasn’t signing up for her own Affordable Care Act policy, she incorrectly responded that it was illegal for her to do so. She really should have been corrected on the spot, provided with a laptop computer, and compelled to buy a policy live on camera, to show us all how it’s done.
Of course, that would have been difficult, because HealthCare.gov crashed again this morning, and was completely down throughout the course of the Sebelius hearing. But at one point, she claimed the website has never actually crashed – it just runs a bit slower than she’d like. A little while later, she claimed she couldn’t cough up those elusive enrollment totals – the most closely guarded secret since Barack Obama’s college transcripts – because “the system isn’t functioning.” CNN puckishly decided to post a split-screen of Sebelius alongside the current crash error message greeting those who try to access the People’s Glorious Health Care Website:
So the website has never crashed, it’s just constantly non-functional. Uh, whatever.
Sebelius performed the time-honored ritual of “taking responsibility” by uttering the magic words, “Hold me accountable for the debacle, I’m responsible.” (Wait a second… did she just call Obama’s signature achievement a “debacle?”) But she means this in the Benghazi sense. It’s just empty rhetoric, not intended to convey any actual responsibility or consequences. After weeks of miserable failure and mounting public outrage, she talked about accountability, and that’s supposed to be good enough. The Secretary pointedly refused to ask for any resignations, or offer her own, although she did find time to throw Marilyn Tavenner of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under the bus, blaming her for the decision to rip out the feature that would have allowed consumers to browse for insurance policies at the last minute.
She immediately set about blaming everyone else involved with ObamaCare for her failures, from the contractors who designed the website, to the insurance companies struggling to comply with the mountain of regulations her department has issued. I guess she’s mostly “accountable” for being an innocent victim of everyone else’s mistakes, including the miserable peons this noble Administration is trying to save from their crappy insurance plans.
Speaking of which, Democrats at the hearing were their usual embarrassing sideshow, insulting the millions of Americans who have lost their insurance because of ObamaCare as “red herrings,” “Chicken Little,” and “myths.” They could not possibly care less about those people, having concluded the bought-and-paid-for votes of a vast new subsidized welfare constituency will far outweigh the political influence of the poor chumps who believed Obama when he promised they could keep their health care plans.
Sebelius actually insisted that Obama was keeping his promise, when asked point-blank about it by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). She also denied the existence of the regulations HHS promulgated to kill off health insurance plans, by making it extremely difficult to “grandfather” them in, even though these regulations are a matter of record. When you’re this far down the rabbit hole, you keep throwing out whoppers until you hit bottom, I guess. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) reminded Sebelius of a few no-longer-operative statements she made about how nobody would lose their favorite plans under ObamaCare, and gave her an idea of what the great sea of Red Herrings are going through right now:
Gingrey also provided some of the most brutal examples of how very little Kathleen Sebelius knows about the current state of the program she’s administering. “As of today, can an individual apply for a hardship exemption to the individual mandate on HealthCare.gov?” he asked. “Yes or no?”
“I don’t know,” replied Sebelius, repeating a phrase we haven’t heard so often since the last time Attorney General Eric Holder was quizzed about Operation Fast and Furious.
“I do,” snapped Gingrey. “It’s no.”
Unfortunately for Sebelius’ efforts at blame-shifting, the HealthCare.gov contractors pre-emptively released documents that proved Sebelius was warned about the impending failure of the website a month before it was launched. This made no more difference to the hapless HHS Secretary than the dead-parrot status of HealthCare.gov during her testimony. She also didn’t care much about the security flaws in ObamaCare, documented in another set of papers the public was never supposed to see. Asked by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) if she knew whether the hastily patched website code was secure, she hemmed and hawed for a bit, then finally sighed, “I don’t know.” Uh, whatever, dude.
Looking forward, Sebelius expressed confidence that HealthCare.gov would be ready for its promised December 1 re-launch… just as she once expressed confidence in a trouble-free October 1 launch, an event she once described as a delightful surprise that would be waiting for her when she awoke that morning, like a child racing downstairs to find Christmas presents under the tree.
One very clear point to emerge from these hearings is that Republicans understand the Affordable Care Act far better than Democrats do. The Democrats spent a lot of their time making windy speeches and dark allusions to the government shutdown, which of course had absolutely nothing to do with the disastrous ObamaCare rollout. These hearings should provide fodder for a thousand GOP campaign commercials. Committee Republicans cited chapter and verse from the law, asking Sebelius a long series of pointed questions she either could not answer, or answered incorrectly. This one’s too much fun to spoil with a summary. Just enjoy the video, while you await your insurance cancellation notice and subsequent transition to “red herring” status.
Sebelius was so awful that her appearance might have been part of a strategy to turn her into the lighting rod for ObamaCare criticism… possibly buying the Administration a bit of breathing room when she suddenly feels the need to spend more time with her family. It’s amazing to see the most powerful bureaucrat on Earth so completely lost at sea, with a sloppy understanding of the law she administers, and virtually zero knowledge of the gigantic apparatus put in place to enforce it. This should be a moment of existential crisis for the entire concept of Big Government central planning. How can anyone honestly reconcile this irresponsible Administration and its endless pratfalls with the belief that Washington knows best, and Barack Obama is better qualified to run every business in America than its owners?
Sebelius delivered the bottom line when she declared, “This is the law, it is no longer up for debate.” That’s not the way America used to work. Laws were debated and changed all the time. But for the new authoritarian Left, ObamaCare is a fraud we can never escape from, a bad deal that offers no refunds, a single vote cast on the basis of false promises that will bind America forever. It doesn’t really matter that it doesn’t work.
“Don’t do this to me,” Sebelius muttered under her breath, caught by a hot mike when Democrat Henry Waxman asked her to apply for an Affordable Care Act plan to refute the “cheap shots” from her critics. It’s the one thing she said all day that the angry victims of ObamaCare could sympathize with.