November 5 2013

Don’t Blame Conservatives for the Lack of Funding for the Federal Health Exchange Website

Carrie L. Lukas

The Sunlight Foundation estimates that $70 million was spent constructing the federal exchange website.  That may not be an eye-popping sum exactly, given what we are used to when we hear about federal government spending.  Still, it seems like $70 million ought to have been enough to produce a functioning website. 

Yet some—such as Jonathan Capehart writing in the Washington Post—would like the American people to think that the reason for the website’s epic flop was that the Republicans starved the website of necessary funding.  He angrily quotes the Washington Post’s explanation that:

Although the statute provided plenty of money to help states build their own insurance exchanges, it included no money for the development of a federal exchange — and Republicans would block any funding attempts. According to one former administration official, [Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen] Sebelius simply could not scrounge together enough money to keep a group of people developing the exchanges working directly under her.

But if the problem really was a lack of funds, then the Democrats and ObamaCare supporters have no one to blame but themselves.  After all, this was a law that was passed without a single vote for the opposition.  Therefore, whatever funding was in the bill or not was one hundred percent a result of decisions made by Democrats.  If they left out money for the creation of a federal website then that was their oversight.  One can hardly think it is shocking or out of bounds that Republicans—elected by their constituents specifically to block ObamaCare—wouldn’t shower the program with any more money than was obligated under the law.

Obviously the authors of the legislation made a lot of mistakes and wished they could get a do over on aspects of the law, (such as with the entire CLASS Act, which had to be scraped because even this Administration couldn’t pretend that it was anything close to fiscally sustainable).  I’m sure that in retrospect, they wished they had given themselves more money specifically for the website design, but that is hard the fault of devious conservatives.

Liberal cheerleaders are obviously desperate to find a plausible explanation for why ObamaCare’s implementation has been such a disaster so far.  But trying to point blame at Republicans for funding the website—in a law they had no role in creating—is almost as far-fetched as the President’s “if you like your insurance you can keep it” line.  And you didn’t buy that one, did you?   

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