The media’s need to treat every story as an epic disaster to boost ratings and corporate profits is a two-fold failure. It hides the true scale and damage of real disasters by mixing them with minor problems the same way that Wall Street hid the danger of sub-prime mortgages by bundling them with good ones, and it overstates the impact of small problems even when those problems are predictable and can be fixed relatively easily.
The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare or ACA) is not a disaster. Anyone who pays attention to the private sector knows how common ineptitude is. Lehman Brothers and Bear Stern didn’t implode because of the government, they failed because the supposed best minds in finance calculated risk poorly, or were people who worked their way into positions of great power when they didn’t even care. Worldcom didn’t go under because of harsh telecommunication regulations, or Enron because of oppressive energy regulations. Instead, they both perpetrated great accounting frauds and market manipulation after significant deregulation allowed them to operate in the dark.
Asking a dozen or more private companies to create interconnected Internet-scale websites was unreasonable and begging for failure from the very beginning.
Very few companies in the world are up to such a task and none of them stepped up to deploy the insurance plan exchange network. Google and Amazon could have done it, and even Facebook has the necessary experience and resources.
For Amazon especially, it would have been just another day at the office. Forget garbage like this, it’s not accurate and not written by someone who understands the issue. A system built on Amazon’s cloud infrastructure can scale from five servers to 10,000 in a matter of minutes, if you can pay for it. Amazon itself has at least four (and as many as seven) primary data centers and 19 “edge” centers for distributing content as close to the user as possible. Estimates put Amazon’s resources at between 185,000 and 450,000 servers total. Google supposedly has more than 900,000 servers at its disposal.
Think about it this way. If you won the lottery and needed someone to invest $50 million for you, would you trust a local adviser in a five-man business next to a Subway shop downtown from where you live, or would you want a banner name from Wall Street that pays more than that just in electricity fees per year? Now consider that for some investment firms that you’ve never even heard of, your account would be too small for them to bother with. That’s how big some players are that you’ve never heard of it.
The federal government and most states went with the guy working next to Subway. Private businesses bit off more than they could chew and we’re all paying the price for it. But that’s not even a big deal, because of all the problems the Affordable Care Act could have, poorly built websites are the easiest to fix. It would take an act of Congress to change the law itself if the cost containment provisions fail. All it takes to fix the websites are a bunch of angry phone calls and time to get it done.
A year from now nobody will remember this supposed disaster and the health care law will roll out regardless. The media going along with the lie that what’s happening now is a disaster of Big Government, rather than a predictable failure of the private sector, is treating a speed bump as a bridge collapse, while true disasters are ignored.
The Bush administration’s 2001 and 2003 tax cuts were supposed to increase job growth and increase tax revenue (the latter is based on a failed conservative economic theory that I won’t get into just now.) Those cuts, primarily for the wealthy, didn’t spur any job growth. The economy grew faster between 2009 and 2013 than it did between 2002 and 2007. And it didn’t increase revenue, it predictably cut it, sending budget deficits to (then) record highs. Some estimates put the damage done at $1.4 trillion in new debt from the 2001 and 2003 cuts and had some of it not been scaled back in 2012, would have added another $4 trillion over the next decade.
The rich got richer, job growth stayed flat, the federal budget deficit grew larger, and the national debt piled higher. That’s a fiscal disaster that this country hasn’t seen in decades, with deficits that it hadn’t seen in all of history. Modern terms aren’t even comparable since today’s deficits are almost entirely driven by the aftermath of the Lesser Depression and quite a bit of contractionary austerity.
With the GOP shutdown finally over, what everyone should be talking about right now is how unemployment is higher than it should have been because of disastrous fiscal policy during the Bush administration coupled with GOP-forced austerity since 2010 that’s slowed the recovery. That $1.4+ trillion in debt from the Bush tax cuts (and more coming since not all of them were expired under President Obama) will be with us for generations, but the Obamacare exchange websites should be running just fine by this time next year.
On the flip side, we’ll still be dealing with the damage from GOP fiscal policy errors and missteps for decades to come.