Ellison's Must Read of the Day

Ellison Barber
April 11, 2014

My must read of the day is "Kathleen Sebelius is resigning because Obamacare has won," by Ezra Klein, in Vox: 

Obamacare has won. And that's why Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius can resign. […]

The White House says Sebelius notified the president in March that "she felt confident in the trajectory for enrollment and implementation," and that once open enrollment ended, "it would be the right time to transition the Department to new leadership."

In other words, the law has won its survival. The Obama administration can exhale. Personnel changes can be made. A new team — led by Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Matthews Burwell, who the White House calls a proven manager— can be brought in to continue to improve the law. And Sebelius can leave with her head held high. She can leave with the law she helped build looking, shockingly, like a success.

Ummm what? Even if you genuinely believe, as Klein does, that "Obamacare's first year, despite a truly horrific start, was a success"—a resignation is not a win.

This is admitting that the first enrollment was a failure, but waiting to make a firing at a more convenient time. If Sebelius had been fired or resigned in the middle of enrollment, her successor would have similarly been accountable for any inadequate enrollment number or lack of information in regards to enrollment or the website.

Now when the new secretary comes in, if there are issues with numbers—say the actual paid enrollees are less than the 7 million selected plans, she can say that wasn’t me, but I’m fixing it.

Sebielius was already in trouble. So they had her stick around through the open enrollment. She was a scapegoat placeholder. If they’d switched her midway through then problems of the website or any enrollment concerns might have been attributed to the policy. Instead, they can attribute problems to a singular failing of leadership, and Democrats will try to say that has now been corrected.