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.

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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.

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Last Update on January 30, 2015 08:34 GMT

ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Investors will have their eye on the government's latest estimate of U.S. economic growth when the Commerce Department releases its report on fourth quarter gross domestic product today.

Also, the University of Michigan will issue its monthly index of consumer sentiment for January and the Labor Department will release the employment cost index for the fourth quarter, a measure of wage and benefit growth..

It's also the busiest week of the current corporate earnings season.

The global biopharmaceutical company AbbVie will report quarterly financial results before the market opens, along with Altria Group and MasterCard.

SHAKE SHACK-IPO

NEW YORK (AP) -- Investors apparently have a craving for a better burger.

Hamburger chain Shake Shack Inc. has priced its initial public stock offering at $21 per share, above its proposed range of $17 to $19 per share.

It sold 5 million shares, raising $105 million. The banks managing the deal may buy 750,000 more shares.

Shake Shack cooks burgers to order and promotes its use of natural ingredients, emblematic of what's known as the "better burger" trend.

Its origins date to 2001, when Union Square Hospitality Group, a company owned by restaurateur Danny Meyer, opened a hot dog cart in Manhattan's Madison Square Park. Shake Shack now has 63 locations in nine countries.

The stock is expected to begin trading Friday on the New York Stock Exchange under the "SHAK" ticker symbol.

JAPAN-ECONOMY

TOKYO (AP) -- Japan's industrial output edged higher in December, suggesting the world's third-largest economy may be turning the corner on a recession brought on by a hefty sales tax hike.

Data released Friday showed manufacturing output increased 0.3 percent in December from the same month a year earlier. However, inflation moderated to 2.5 percent from a year earlier, compared with 2.7 percent in November.

The core consumer price index, excluding food, fell 0.2 percent from the month before.

Falling energy costs thanks to the plunge in oil prices had a limited effect, since the CPI excluding both food and energy was unchanged from the previous month.

Japan's jobless rate dipped to 3.4 percent from 3.5 percent the month before. But stagnant wages meant household spending dropped 3.4 percent from a year earlier.

TOYOTA-FATAL CRASH

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Jury deliberations will resume Friday in a case alleging a 1996 Toyota Camry had a design defect that caused a fatal crash.

Jurors left the federal court in Minneapolis without a verdict Thursday and will return Friday to keep deliberating. At one point in their discussions, jurors asked for a video player so they could view some evidence in the case.

The jurors must decide whether Toyota's design of the 1996 Camry had a defect that was unreasonably dangerous. If they find there was a defect, they must decide if it directly caused injuries to those hurt or killed when Koua Fong Lee crashed into another car in 2006.

Lee spent 2 1/2 years in prison before being released after reports suggested some Toyota cars had sudden acceleration problems.

PIPELINE SPILLS-KEYSTONE

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) -- As Congress presses the Obama administration to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, government records show oil pipeline accidents have become increasingly frequent in the U.S.

An Associated Press review shows accident numbers growing steadily since 2009, reversing a decade-long decline.

Keystone would go from Canada to the Gulf, passing near where 30,000 gallons of crude spilled into Montana's Yellowstone River earlier this month.

The recent breach became the latest in a string of spills to highlight ongoing problems with maintenance of the nation's crude pipeline network.

After the U.S. Senate voted Thursday in favor of Keystone, Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington state cited the increase in spills in calling for Obama to veto the measure.

Keystone supporter North Dakota Democrat Sen. Heidi Heitkamp said building it was preferable to using older pipelines.

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