The ceaseless brouhaha over the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, and President Barack Obama’s “sinking” approval ratings is comparable to a parent telling a child he must do something and when the child does, he is ridiculed and punished for doing it.
The charge is being led by the Republicans and fueled by the corporate media.
Obama, instead of listening to the people and insisting on expanding Medicare to provide a single-payer system, as usual caved in to his corporate masters, even allowing the health insurance industry write a federal version on the theme of Massachusetts’ Romneycare. As with everything else Obama proposes, except war, tax cuts for the rich and spying on civilians, congressional Republicans opposed it, leaving it to the then Democratic majority to pass it in December 2010.
Instead of having the whole convoluted act take effect at a date certain, it’s been enacted piecemeal, paving the way for opponents to lambast it and the Republicans, who took over the House in January 2013, to vote 46 times to repeal it.
Obama doesn’t learn, though. Since he took office on January 20, 2009, he has clung to the notion of bipartisanship in dealing with the Republicans in Congress and each time, like the child who followed his parent’s orders, it has come back to bite him.
Whatever you think of Obama—and some of us don’t think much—he wasn’t the one who directly hired CGI Federal, a subsidiary of the Montreal-based CGI Group, to design the botched Affordable Care Act’s online registry, www.healthcare.gov. Call it a multi-million dollar train wreck. Yes, the buck stops with the president—theoretically, anyway—and Obama has acknowledged, according to Business Insider, “How we purchase technology in the federal government is cumbersome, complicated and outdated.”
So the question remains who is the person responsible for approving the contract awarded to CGI Federal and why a Canadian company when Americans need jobs? According to the Washington Examiner, “Officials at the U.S. government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services awarded six technology contracts worth $87 million to CGI Federal for Obamacare website work, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
“The CMS officials refused to say if federal officials knew of its parent company’s IT failure in Canada when awarding the six contracts.”
And that “failure in Canada” led to CGI Federal’s parent company, CGI Group, being “officially terminated in September 2012 by an Ontario government health agency after the firm missed three years of deadlines and failed to deliver the province’s flagship online medical registry,” the Washington Examiner reported.
That was not CGI’s only failure, according to FOX News, “In projects stretching from Canada to Hawaii, parent company CGI Group and its subsidiaries ran into complaints about its performance. And this was while, and in some cases before, CGI Federal was paid millions, along with other contractors, to create the ObamaCare website.”
FOX News noted, “CGI Technologies and Solutions, Inc., another subsidiary, had been responsible for overhauling the IT systems for the Hawaii tax department, and then, developing its new delinquent tax collection services. Not only was the software and implementation problematic, but the second contract, signed in 2009, paid CGI millions for work it did not complete, according to a state audit completed in 2010 on the matter.”
FOX also reported, “Since the ObamaCare exchange website launched on Oct. 1, government officials have signed at least five different agreements with CGI totaling $7 million, according to USASpending.gov, a government website that lists government contracts. The contracts were for computer and software development at the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Commerce, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
“One contract, for instance, was signed Oct. 19 by Department of Commerce officials that gives CGI Federal $266,164 to provide “IT and Telecom Systems Development” for the Patent Office.”
However, the more you dig looking for answers to the website mess, the more you uncover. For instance, Toni Townes-Whitley, a senior vice president of CGI Federal, was a Princeton classmate of First Lady Michelle Obama. Interesting. Townes-Whitely reportedly donated $500 in 2011 and 2012 to Obama’s reelection campaign and $1,000 to the Obama Victory Fund.
But the corporate media isn’t reporting on CGI’s checkered record, the outsourcing of work that can be done cheaper and more efficiently in-house, the convoluted procurement process or a possible conflict of interest. No, it’s more fun, not to mention productive, to repeatedly tell the American people that Obamacare is sinking Obama. It’s the old repeat something often enough and people will believe it.
The truth is Obama is a tool of Wall Street and his corporate masters, and like that child who suffers the consequences of following a parent’s diktat, he does what he is told and takes the heat for it. The irony is if Obama had fought for a single-payer system, employers wouldn’t be cutting the hours of workers to under 30 a week to avoid having to pay into their health insurance; health care costs would have gone down due to the elimination of filing claims for a myriad of insurers; and some employers wouldn’t playing the religion card to deny women coverage for free contraceptives. The loser would have been the health insurance industry, but it still could have sold supplemental plans as it does now for Medicare recipients.
Instead of bashing Obama over the Affordable Care Act, why not go after him for his criminal wars—direct or proxy—drones, kill list, persecution and prosecution of whistle-blowers and journalists, and the NSA/CIA/FBI’s violation of our Fourth Amendment rights, plus failure to put an end to the Department of Defense’s gifting of military hardware to police departments all over the country? Obama has let his criminal predecessors skate—Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice—and failed to demand his attorney general, Eric Holder, prosecute the banksters for their crimes. And those are just for openers.
The real question is whether Obama or any president can stand up to the demands of the corporations and Wall Street or would he or she suffer the fate of John F. Kennedy?