Sports metaphors and the Obamacare roll-out

Updated: Friday, October 25, 2013
Sports metaphors and the Obamacare roll-out story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - As discontent in the Democratic party grows over the implementation of Obamacare, government officials say they’re bringing in experts from silicon valley to help find a way out of the fiasco that signing up has become.

Tonight, in Tom’s Corner, Tom Van Howe says the administration’s handling of President Obama’s signature legislation is a “how-to” lesson in destroying credibility in record time.


I’m not a big fan of sports analogies. But sometimes they work.

The late Casey Stengel comes to mind after watching President Obama and his team back-pedal, step up to the plate to accept responsibility, and then point the finger of blame at somebody else.

The administration has had three-and-a-half years to get things ready for this day—for this roll-out of the Affordable Care Act.

Forty-two months to have developed and tested and retested the billion-dollar, new technology that would allow millions of people to effortlessly sign on to, in so many cases, get the the kind of healthcare they’ve never had before.

More than 15,000 days to develop a pretty good sense of how much it would cost to work with insurance companies to gauge whether it would be cheaper or more expensive; to explain  in authoritative detail after detail to a country still divided over the issue.

If Casey Stengel were able to comment today, I suspect it would be similar to what he said about his inept New York Mets in 1968.

“Been in this game a hundred years, “ he said. “But I see new ways to lose ‘em I never knew existed before.”

Where in the world were these people in our nation’s capitol? You know, if there had been only six months to lay all the groundwork, we could say, “well, they did the best they could in the time allowed.”

I know the issue became red meat for conservatives. I know it went to the Supreme Court before becoming the law of the land. I know that had to be distracting.

But good grief! If we have the technology to bug the phone of the Chancellor of Germany, listen in to conversation all over Brazil and in France and who knows where else, you’re telling me we can’t build an Obamacare web site that works?! That works from the beginning?

Instead, look at what we have. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius pointing her finger at the Canadian company who built the system.

Yeah, Canadian.

And that company pointing back at the administration and other companies who helped out.

Sebelius telling us no one—simply no one—and certainly not the President, knew before October 1st this thing would blow up as it did.

Only now is our government turning for advice to the world leaders in computer technology from Silicon Valley.

Today, we learn that we get an extra 45 days to sign up before facing a penalty. But not, we are told, because of the computer “glitch.” Of course not. It's because the public was confused about sign up dates. Really?

Meantime, insurance company insiders are telling CNN that they knew a long time ago that this thing was going to fall like a tent in a hurricane.

Also, today we learned that Sebelius and company are going to start a grassroots effort to boost enrollment in the system so many have already been turned away from.

Where was that effort six months—a year—ago? Honestly!

I believe our country is in desperate need of a well-run, cost-efficient, national healthcare system. But if what we’ve seen so far is any indication...Obamacare will be none of those things.

When he was with the Yankees, Casey Stengel sent a guy down to the minors because he was striking out too much. “Mister,” Stengel told a reporter, “that boy couldn’t hit the ground if he fell out an airplane.”

I think the same can be said about some key people in Washington. Its time to stop the strike outs and get some people on the team who can hit home runs. We’re obviously overdue.

In this corner...I’m Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on November 25, 2015 18:41 GMT


NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks are slightly higher in midday trading as markets start to wind down ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S.

Several stocks were moving on news.

Deere rose almost 4 percent after the maker of farm equipment reported earnings that beat analysts' forecasts. HP sank 13 percent after reporting weak sales of PCs, printers and commercial software.

U.S. markets will be closed Thursday for Thanksgiving. They will reopen on an abbreviated schedule Friday.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment aid dropped sharply last week, the latest sign that businesses are cutting few jobs.

The Labor Department says weekly applications for jobless benefits fell 12,000 to a seasonally adjusted 260,000, not far from the lowest levels in four decades.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. The four week average, a less volatile measure, was unchanged at 271,000.

Businesses are holding onto their staffs and adding jobs at a solid pace as steady consumer spending has bolstered the economy. The strong dollar and slower overseas growth have reduced corporate profits but so far there is no sign companies are responding by cutting workers.

Hiring actually rose to its strongest level this year in October, as employers added 271,000 jobs.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Consumer spending posted a modest increase for a second straight month in October, while personal income rebounded after a sluggish September.

The Commerce Department says spending edged up 0.1 percent in October after a similar tiny gain in September.

Incomes jumped 0.4 percent in October, double the 0.2 percent rise in September. Wages and salaries rose by 0.6 percent. That was the strongest wage gain in five months and a reflection of the big surge in hiring that occurred last month.

The second straight month of spending weakness could signal trouble, given that consumer spending accounts for 70 percent of economic activity. However, economists are counting on the strong labor market to bolster the incomes needed to fuel spending in the months ahead.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Sales of new homes recovered in October after suffering a steep drop in September, indicating that the housing market may be stabilizing.

The Commerce Department says new-home sales climbed 10.7 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 495,000. This rebound followed a 12.9 percent plunge in the sales rate during September.

The new-home sales report tends to be volatile from month to month. Home-buying surged 135.5 percent in the Northeast in October, while rising less aggressively in the Midwest and South. Sales dropped slightly in the West.

Purchases of new homes have surged 15.7 percent year-to-date, benefiting from the solid hiring gains and low mortgage rates.

But prices dipped last month. The median new-home sales price has fallen 8.5 percent from a year ago to $281,500.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates slipped this week after they rose recently on expectations that the Federal Reserve may soon raise its key short-term interest rate.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Wednesday the average rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage slipped to 3.95 percent from 3.97 percent a week earlier. The key 30-year rate was nearly unchanged from its level of a year ago, 3.97 percent. But the average has increased over the past months from 3.76 at the end of October.

The average on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages was unchanged at 3.18 percent.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Orders for long-lasting manufactured goods posted a solid gain in October after two months of weakness, while a key category that tracks business investment plans advanced by the largest amount in three months.

The Commerce Department says that orders for durable goods rose 3 percent in October following declines in both September and August. The strength was led by a surge in demand for commercial aircraft but reflected widespread gains in a number of categories, from machinery to computers. A key category that serves as a proxy for business investment spending rose 1.3 percent in October, the best showing since July.

American manufacturers have struggled this year with weakness in many key export markets and a strong dollar, which makes U.S. goods less competitive.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Americans were more optimistic about their incomes and personal finances this month, particularly among lower and middle-class households, lifting consumers' outlook.

The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index rose to 91.3 in November from 90 in the previous month. That is close to the average for the past six months of 91.6.

Steady hiring and rising wages and salaries are slowly lifting Americans' confidence in the economy, though it remains muted by historical standards. The modest increase suggests consumers could spend more over the coming holiday shopping period.

Among lower and middle-income households, 38 percent expect their personal finances to improve in the coming year, compared with just 29 percent of higher-income households. The outlook for wealthier families appears to have been tempered by recent swings in the stock market.


NEW YORK (AP) -- Hormel is announcing a two-for-one split a day after the company reported a strong fourth quarter and outlook.

The company is projecting higher sales from organic meats producer Applegate, which it bought earlier this year.

Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Ettinger said Wednesday that the split "demonstrates our confidence that we will continue to grow our sales and earnings."

Shares hit an all-time high Tuesday.

The stock split, which would increase the number of shares to 1.6 billion from 800 million, requires shareholder approval.

Hormel Foods Corp., based in Austin, Minnesota, set Jan. 26 as the record date for shareholders to be eligible for the split. It would be effective around Feb. 9.


BERLIN (AP) -- Volkswagen says it will take less than an hour to bring 1.6 and 2.0 liter turbodiesel engines in Europe into line with emissions rules.

The German automaker has pledged to fix 11 million vehicles worldwide that were discovered to contain software that enables them to cheat on emissions tests for nitrogen oxide.

Volkswagen said in a statement Wednesday that in Europe the 2.0 liter EA 189 engine will require only a software update taking half an hour to install.

It says the 1.6 liter engine will be fitted with a grid to improve the motor's efficiency, taking less than an hour.

Volkswagen says the measures only cover Volkswagen-branded models in Europe and should be completed by the end of next year. A proposal for the 1.2 liter models will follow.


BERLIN (AP) -- A strike at Germany's flagship airline, Lufthansa, has been averted after a cabin crew union announced it would hold further negotiations with the company.

The cabin crew union UFO said Wednesday that it would cancel previously announced walkouts for Thursday, Friday and Monday.

The union for flight attendants said there would be further talks leading up to a so-called jobs summit with Lufthansa on Dec. 2.

The labor dispute comes as Lufthansa is trying to cut costs amid rising competition from Gulf state airlines.

Earlier in November, the union went on strike for a week, causing the cancellation of 4,700 flights affecting some 550,000 passengers.


ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- New York's attorney general is dropping a lawsuit against a drug manufacturer after blocking what he said was an attempt to switch Alzheimer's patients to a newer patented drug.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (SHNEYE'-dur-muhn) had sued Allergan PLC to prevent the company from withdrawing Namenda, a popular Alzheimer's treatment, a few months before lower-cost generic drugs became available.

Schniederman's office argued the move was timed to force patients onto a new patented drug Namenda XR instead of the generics.

A federal judge agreed, requiring Allergan to continue distributing the older drug until generics were available.

Schneiderman said Wednesday the lawsuit has been resolved now that patients can choose between the new drug and generic alternatives.

Allergan, previously known as Actavis, confirmed the settlement. The company agreed to pay $172,000 in legal fees.


NEW YORK (AP) -- An ad campaign that featured Nazi imagery has been pulled from the New York City subway system.

Seats on the 42nd Street shuttle between Times Square and Grand Central Terminal were wrapped in Nazi regalia to promote an Amazon video series called "The Man in the High Castle." The show depicts the aftermath of World War II as if the Axis powers triumphed.

The region's transit network, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, approved the ads, which first appeared earlier this month.

The agency also initially defended the ads, saying they met its guidelines.

But many public officials condemned them. Mayor Bill de Blasio called them "irresponsible and offensive."

Officials confirmed Wednesday that Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered them removed.

Washington Times