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By Rachel Goldfarb, originally published on Next New Deal

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One Federal Website That Works (Bloomberg View)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford looks at a new site by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which makes regulations transparent and accessible. The CFPB also followed development practices that other agencies should copy, like open source software.

Alone in the Dark: Susan Crawford and the Telecom Industry (WNYC)

Manoush Zomorodi interviews Susan about how telecommunications companies deal with disasters like Hurricane Sandy. Deregulation has created a situation where the industry isn't required to have backup power to keep customers connected in emergencies.

JPMorgan Settlement is Justice, not a Shakedown (WaPo)

Katrina vanden Heuvel argues that the $13 billion settlement is hardly enough, because the money means nothing to JPMorgan Chase. She thinks that "perp walks" are necessary so that individuals are held accountable.

America’s New Hunger Crisis (MSNBC)

Ned Resnikoff looks at the demands on food pantries since 2009, and speaks to staff who are concerned about increased need when an automatic food stamp cut goes into effect this week. Pantries are already strained, and federal funding was hit by sequestration.

Time to Investigate Those Insurance Company Letters (TAP)

Paul Waldman says that when insurers send letters that say a plan has been canceled and push customers onto more expensive plans, they're obscuring the facts. Plans are being required to cover more, and that's usually called an improvement, not a cancelation.

How a Frustrated Blogger Made Expanding Social Security a Respectable Idea (Pacific Standard)

David Dayen profiles Duncan Black, known as Atrios online, who has spent the past year pushing for increases in Social Security benefits. He pushed a dramatic expansion hoping for smaller changes, but people are taking his idea seriously.

No Grand Bargain: Why Dems Think They Won't Have to Budge on Sequester Demands (MoJo)

Patrick Caldwell suggests that the Democrats will be unwilling to take any budget deal that doesn't eliminate sequestration. If they have to insist on a series of short-term continuing resolutions instead, it's the Republicans who are likely to land in hot water.

New on Next New Deal

The Solution Economy: Problem Solving Everyone Can Agree On

Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network Senior Fellow for Economic Development Azi Hussain argues that the solution economy, which solves societal problems with public-private partnerships, could be one of the only things the right and left can agree on right now.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Economics on Wed Oct 30, 2013 at 07:49 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The ACA website is largely a faux issue (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    No Exit, Aunt Pat

    being pushed by people who aren't computer literate themselves. Fact is that many of the people needing to be signed up for health insurance aren't into computers either. Though they may all have cell phones, they're going to rely on the social support networks they've been accessing already, public and private eleemosynary institutions. Their needs were considered when the phone button on the main page was linked to all the assistance providers they could access in person or with local phone calls.

    •  Rewriting history somewhat there (0+ / 0-)

      One-stop insurance shopping on the exchanges was always its big selling point.  Competition, don't you know.

      •  The exchange can be accessed otherwise than (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        No Exit, Aunt Pat

        through the web site. It's the same as when I make reservations on Amtrak. I can use the web site, but if it doesn't get me on the trains I want to ride, I can call the operator to get what I want.
        Web sites are not substitutes, but alternatives or call it enhanced diversity.
        From what I have been able to glean, the call centers, which are staffed 24/7 are not in Pakistan.

    •  Ah yes -- and, while we're at it, let them eat (0+ / 0-)


      The web site is a real and very expensive issue.  It is, among other things, a badly botched promise.

      The people behind it should be ashamed of themselves.

      I'm just glad that the administration doesn't share your view and is taking steps to correct the problem.

      LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

      by dinotrac on Wed Oct 30, 2013 at 08:34:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  FAA MedXPress for Pilot Medicals is great (0+ / 0-)

    Allows you to complete your medical history online, then take the confirmation# to the Aviation Medical Examiner doc, he logs in and enters his part. Then good to go. Beats the old paper forms, which were totally retired.

  •  Navy Federal Credit Union (0+ / 0-)

    is undergoing some sort of "improvement" to their website and it is still not working right after two weeks.  

  •  Most folks here and indeed in the country (0+ / 0-)

    would not have experience with the various VA websites.
    They are abysmal and in fact the process works quicker by going to the office, getting the paperwork and submitting it via mail.

    There is the apparent perception on the VA's part that we will all commit fraud and it's primary purpose is to prevent it.

    Wonder if that is par of the problem with the ACA site? I.e. Too much emphasis on fraud prevention.

    “Never argue with someone whose livelihood depends on not being convinced.” ~ H.L. MENCKEN

    by shigeru on Wed Oct 30, 2013 at 08:12:15 PM PDT

  •  is it a real issue? (0+ / 0-)

    I have heard people say that Obamacare insurance is going to limit choice of doctors, be too complicated to understand, or result in higher costs.  These may be true for a small group, but for those of in the real world it doesn't seem to be an issue.  I have never had a large selection of doctors.  If I wanted a doctor not on the list, I had to pay for it, so not change there.  I don't see anything in the law that prevents you from paying for a doctor.

    My insurance will end if I leave my job, and under the previous rules if I did not get Cobra I could be denied insurance.  Under the old rules, for the new reports, private insurers could drop you every year, and only had to offer you a new plan.  It could be, presumable, a much more expensive plan, or no plan at all if there was none offered in the area.

    It may be that the president misspoke.  But it could be that the statement and the facts are taken out of context.  It can't be expected that the president could promise that private insurance will not continue business as usual with changing plans and denying coverage.

    Here is the data point.  At my workplace, for the same amount of money, employees who earn below a threshold now get full, real, ACA complaint health insurance for about $50 a year.  These are people who had no opportunity for real health insurance previously. This is because of the ACA and is outside any other programs.  When the ACA was passed, and the smell of reform was in the, these people who previously had no access to health care were offered a limited plan that has now been upgraded.  

    It could be said that these people are part of the group that 'cannot keep a plan they like.'  But it has nothing to do with anything, unless the law says they have to a better plan for the same price.  Which it might.

  •  Nice to read about the consumer protection web (0+ / 0-)


    I will have to check it out when I get the chance, but it sounds like it has found a way to leverage the web and basic computing power to make the seeming gibberish of federal regulations accessible to ordinary citizens.

    Kudos all around -- including for the fellowships.  Innovative thinking. Reaching out intelligently to private partners? Sharing the fruits of their labor so that more people can benefit?

    Good lord!  Is it possible that there is no need whatsoever for government to screw things up horribly?

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Wed Oct 30, 2013 at 08:37:54 PM PDT

  •  Everybody spins those cancelled policies (0+ / 0-)

    Lots of people will be better off: they will get insurance they need in place of inadequate coverage and, if they are lucky, pay no more for it, maybe even pay less.

    Others will be forced to buy more insurance than they need.  My gut says most will be in the first group, and relatively few in the second.


    It's easy to tell where the reporter is coming from.

    Hate Obamacare?  We hear cancelled policies and more expensive insurance.

    Love Obamacare? You'd think there had never been a Bauhaus movement. More is always better.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Wed Oct 30, 2013 at 08:42:23 PM PDT

  •  I'm absolutely blown away by the article about (0+ / 0-)

    Duncan Black (Atrios) and how he has moved the Overton Window on the subject of increasing (rather than decreasing) monthly Social Security payments to seniors.

    I say Yeehaw to this, and kudos to Atrios!

    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead -

    by FlamingoGrrl on Wed Oct 30, 2013 at 08:42:44 PM PDT

  •  As someone whose first job was in government (0+ / 0-)

    contracting, I am not surprised that this website is having problems.  The usual process is that a set of specifications is written by the agency.  These specs are published and a bidding process ensues.  Bids are submitted and evaluated and a contract is awarded, usually to the lowest bidder that is deemed remotely capable of fulfilling the contract.

    That is the federal procurement process in a nutshell.  I can say from experience that this process is often inadequate for IT procurement.  Bid requirements often specify a estimated number of man-hours  to compete the specified tasks and an estimated number of programmers to provide those hours.  This process inevitably favors large contractors who have prior experience in the procurement process over smaller companies whose expertise may be more appropriate to accomplish the task required.

    Also, the hardware that is routinely used in most federal agencies is usually far from state of the art and may differ significantly from agency to agency.  The task is even more complicated when the requirements involve dozens of state agencies, all with different levels of tech hardware of various ages.  It is a monumental task to be accomplished especially by the low bid contractor that the current process provides.  I would want the low bid surgeon to do my heart bypass or remove a tumor, but that is the system we are asking to provide access to our healthcare program.  "Glitches" in such a system were not only predictable, but virtually inevitable.

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