Tuesday evening, House Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) learned that although Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius had refused to testify this week, the administration had arranged a Democrats-only briefing on Wednesday. Spokesman Brendan Buck released a statement, reading in part: “Far too much information about Obamacare’s rollout is being concealed from the public. All members — as well as the American people — deserve answers for this debacle. That’s why we have asked the administration to provide the same briefing to House Republicans.” He concluded, “It’s time for the Obama administration to honor its promises of transparency and face some accountability.”
Meanwhile, on Monday, House Budget Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) who had been sending letters to Sebelius since mid-August asking about the implementation progress, sent another letter. He asked that in addition to basic data previously requested (an organization chart, an implementation update, etc.) that the secretary provide an accounting of the president’s “tech surge.” Expressing the exasperation that the media have recently experienced in trying to get answers to basic questions, he wrote, “The American people have a right to know how your department intends to manage this large, complex program. Your continued silence on these important inquiries after refusing to testify raises serious questions about the administration’s commitment to transparency and accountability.”
Actually, it answers those questions rather dramatically. No one is responsible, apparently, and the American people aren’t entitled to know what is going on. The Republicans should keep hammering this issue day after day not only because the administration’s refusal to come clean is unconscionable, but because it is the only way to determine what the problems are, how much and how long it will take to fix them and whether Obamacare is functioning in any meaningful way.
Democrats will now be in a tricky spot. Do they keep covering for the administration or do they do their jobs and demand information so they can perform necessary oversight? The administration, no doubt, wants to call them in to instruct them to circle the wagons; they do so however at their own electoral peril.
If the shutdown was a gift from Republicans to the White House, the incompetent and arrogant handling of Obamacare’s rollout is the return favor. Candidly, neither side seems trustworthy or diligent enough to govern.