Today’s hearing with Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was a perfect example.
As the person in charge of this implementation, you would presume that she would have the most up-to-date information on the program. That she would be able to quickly and promptly answer where in the process the repair of the exchange website we are. And, that she could tell us what the legal standard for the law is.
You would be wrong on all counts.
To put it succinctly, Sebelius’s testimony also turned into a train wreck.
But let us give her credit. Sebelius started the day by taking full responsibility for the website’s failures. Good, right? The only problem is, she spent the rest of the day trying to convince the hearing members that it wasn’t her fault, but everyone else’s. She primarily blamed the contractors for not telling her the truth that there were problems with the site; that is, of course, now documented to be false. They have documented that they were not provided the access or authority to test the site fully, and that authority only resides at HHS.
But it gets worse. When questioned about the websites security measures, she could not confirm that it was ever tested for security leaks. Again, to the contractors credit, they documented that they sent a memo to Sec. Sebelius in the end of September stating this fact…and yet HHS did little or nothing to insure the security of millions of Americans’ data.
Sebelius then made what I thought was going to be the most remarkably stupid comment of the day (but wasn’t) when she claimed…wait for it…that the website has never crashed. She claimed, “It is functional, but at a very slow speed and very low reliability.” But as the graphic at the top of this post shows, the site was not functional during her testimony. You would think she would have checked before going out there and made this ludicrous statement.
As if things couldn’t get worse, Sebelius was then asked why she didn’t go to the Washington, D.C. exchange to get her own insurance. She claimed that because she is a Federal employee it would be illegal for her to do so. The problem? That is completely and factually incorrect, as the graphic from the HHS site shows:
In other words, the HHS Secretary doesn’t know that the law she is trying to implement would allow her to join the D.C. exchange, as her own HHS website clearly shows. You cannot make this level of incompetence up.
After all that, you wouldn’t think that Ms. Sebelius could worsen this debacle; you would, of course, be wrong. During the exchange asking her about the legality of her joining the D.C. exchange, her hot mic caught this little tidbit:
Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.) asked her to answer, “yes or no,” whether she’d be willing to drop her federal employee health coverage and buy insurance in the exchanges if she could.
“If you can, will you?” he said.
Sebelius claimed that she thought it would be illegal for her to use the exchanges — but that’s not actually true.
Then Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) made a unanimous consent request so he could ask a question out of turn. Sebelius turned to a colleague and said, “Don’t do this to me.” Those words were caught on her microphone.
Well, frankly, who could blame her? I don’t want Obamacare to do this to any of us.
But the line of the hearing still hasn’t been mentioned.
Rep. Greg Harper (R-Miss.) asked Sebelius repeatedly whether President Barack Obama was responsible for the troubled rollout of the health-care law that has left HealthCare.gov, the website where consumers are supposed to purchase insurance, largely dysfunctional.
Sebelius repeated that she and the Department of Health and Human Services were ultimately responsible. This led to a back-and-forth between the two, in which Harper tried to pry the answer he wanted out of her before his time for questioning expired.
“While I think it’s great that you’re a team player and you’re taking responsibility, it is the President’s ultimate responsibility, correct?” he said.
“Well, you’re clearly, uh, whatever,” Sebelius said. “Yes. He is the President. He is responsible for government programs.”
Let me give you a little hint folks: if you are testifying in front of Congress, the body representing the American people, don’t ever respond to a question with the term “Whatever”.
The entire hearing was a debacle, and did nothing to support the claim of the left that the Obamacare implementation is in competent hands. If anything, it gave more support to the argument that the Obamacare debacle denialist brigade is still in charge.