President Barack Obama delivered remarks from the White House Thursday morning following the conclusion of the government shutdown and the raising of the debt ceiling. The president praised government as an entity "we rely on" in a "whole lot of ways." He also said that he hoped the country had learned that "smart, effective government is important."
"It matters," said Obama. "I think the American people, during the shutdown, had a chance to get some idea of all the things large and small that government does that make a difference in people's lives. And we hear all the time about how government is the problem. Well, it turns out we rely on it in a whole lot of ways. Not only does it keep us strong through our military and our law enforcement, it plays a vital role in caring for our seniors and our veterans, educating our kids, making sure our workers are trained for the jobs that are being created, arming our businesses with the best science and technology so they can compete with companies from other countries. It plays a key role in keeping our food and our toys and our workplaces safe. It helps folks rebuild after a storm. It conserves our natural resources. It finances startups. It helps to sell our products overseas. It provides security to our diplomats abroad."
The last example Obama gave is particularly curious given the unanswered questions surrounding the security (or lack thereof) for the American consulate on September 11, 2012, when terrorists in Benghazi, Libya, killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens.
In his Thursday speech, Obama added, "So let's work together to make government work better instead of treating it like an enemy or purposely making it work worse."
Meanwhile, one of Obama's signature legislative achievements, his overhaul of the health insurance system, has struggled in its first weeks of implementation. The Obamacare exchanges, which opened on October 1, continue to face serious problems, and even left-leaning publications are recognizing the failures of the law's implementation. In the current issue of THE WEEKLY STANDARD, Michael Astrue writes more about the disastrous debut of the health insurance exchanges:
As the HHS day of reckoning approached, the publicity machine shifted gears and began acknowledging the likelihood of “glitches,” a brilliant rhetorical technique designed to dismiss all HHS failures as minor and fixable. President Obama echoed this “glitches” theme, and it worked. A mesmerized USA Today, for one, characterized the catastrophic October 1 breakdowns as “glitches” despite ample evidence of meltdowns in the HHS systems. Nobody in Hawaii could access prices for the plans; North Carolina recorded only one policy purchase. The launch has even interfered with the Massachusetts exchange, which functioned well for years prior to being integrated into the HHS systems. The federal exchange was inaccessible for much of the week, and was taken out of service the first weekend for repairs.
The new HHS talking points assert that the department will quickly fix last week’s failures. Many in Congress and the media are parroting those points, even though almost every prediction HHS has made to date about the exchanges has turned out to be untrue. Its newest assurances are untrue as well.
The department will surely ameliorate some problems in the coming months simply by buying additional capacity and fixing sloppy code. More enduring problems, however, will continue to plague HHS.
Read the whole thing here.