CBS: 'White House Had Years of Warnings' About ObamaCare Debacle
By Matthew Balan | November 4, 2013
Monday's CBS This Morning revealed how "a trusted Obama health care adviser warned the White House it was losing control of ObamaCare". Major Garrett underlined that "the warnings were dire and specific, and ultimately ignored" by the Obama administration. Instead, they "relied on appointed bureaucrats and senior White House health care advisers" to implement the health care law.
Garrett also pointed out how "the White House became secretive about the law's complexity and regulatory reach" because they were apparently "fearful of constant attacks from congressional Republicans" over the controversial issue. [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
Substitute anchor Margaret Brennan teased Garrett's report by trumpeting that "HealthCare.gov [is] now shutting down every day for hours at a time. CBS News learns the White House had years of warnings." The correspondent led the segment with his "losing control of ObamaCare" line about David Cutler, the "trusted Obama health care adviser", and his "blunt" May 2010 memo to economic adviser Larry Summers, which cast serious doubt on a successful implementation of the law.
Cutler asserted that "the relevant members of the administration [do not] understand the President's vision or have the capability to carry it out", and that "no one was in charge who had any experience in complex business start-ups". Garrett then added that "the White House dismissed these and other warnings."
Later, the CBS journalist spotlighted how "some Democrats have proposed dramatic action", and played a soundbite of California Democrat Dianne Feinstein recommending that HealthCare.gov be shut down until it works properly. He also noted that other Democrats, "like Massachusetts Democratic Governor Deval Patrick, say these website problems are actually a good thing, because they force the President to go out and sell ObamaCare to the country once again."
The full transcript of Major Garrett's report from Monday's CBS This Morning:
MARGARET BRENNAN: Now to the struggling ObamaCare website – HealthCare.gov is being taken offline daily from 1 am to 5 am Eastern Time for repairs. And CBS News is learning that the administration knew of the risk well before last month.
Major Garrett is live at the White House. Major, good morning.
MAJOR GARRETT: Well, good morning, Margaret and Charlie. Three years ago, a trusted Obama health care adviser warned the White House it was losing control of ObamaCare. A memo obtained by CBS said strong leadership was missing, and the law's successful implementation was in jeopardy. The warnings were dire and specific, and ultimately ignored.
[CBS News Graphic: "Website Warning: Obama Adviser Detailed Potential Problems in 2010"]
GARRETT (voice-over): David Cutler, who worked on the Obama 2008 campaign and was a valued outside health care consultant, wrote this blunt memo to top White House economic adviser Larry Summers in May 2010: 'I do not believe the relevant members of the administration understand the President's vision or have the capability to carry it out.' Cutler wrote, 'No one was in charge who had any experience in complex business start-ups.' He also worried basic regulations, technology, and policy coordination would fail.
DAVID CUTLER, FMR. HEALTH ADVISER TO OBAMA CAMPAIGN: You need to have the people who have understanding of the political process; people who understand how to work within an administration; and people who understand how to build, start, and build a business. And unfortunately, they just didn't get all of those people together.
GARRETT; The White House dismissed these and other warnings. It relied on appointed bureaucrats and senior White House health care advisers. Fearful of constant attacks from congressional Republicans, the White House became secretive about the law's complexity and regulatory reach.
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CUTLER: It is frustrating any time you really want to see something succeed because you believe it's good for people, and it doesn't get off on the right foot.
GARRETT: One month after its launch, the federal health care website remains hobbled.
DAN PFEIFFER, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE ADVISER (from ABC's "This Week"): The website failures are absolutely inexcusable, and we own that.
GARRETT: Some Democrats have proposed dramatic action.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, (D), CALIFORNIA (from CBS's "Face the Nation"): I said this directly to the President's chief of staff: they ought to take down the website until it was right.
GARRETT: Republicans doubt White House promises to fix the health care site by month's end.
REP. MIKE ROGERS, (R), MICHIGAN (from CBS's "Face the Nation"): They're trying to change a tire on a car going 75 miles an hour down the expressway.
GARRETT (on-camera): Some Democrats, like Massachusetts Democratic Governor Deval Patrick, say these website problems are actually a good thing, because they force the President to go out and sell ObamaCare to the country once again. Well, the President will do that on Wednesday, when he travels to Dallas to go to an enrollment center, and thank volunteers there for signing people up. Margaret and Charlie?
CHARLIE ROSE: Thank you, Major.