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U.S. President Barack Obama (2nd L) applauds after announcing Director of the Office of Management and Budget Sylvia Mathews Burwell (2nd R) as his nominee to replace outgoing U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius (R), during a ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, April 11, 2014. At left is U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden. REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS HEALTH TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR3KWJF
Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius was a rare female, Democratic guest on NBC's Meet the Press Sunday, her appearance on the show an excuse for NBC's Andrea Mitchell to revisit the disastrous roll-out of Obamacare. Sebelius took the opportunity, however, to remind Mitchell and viewers that sign-ups have actually exceeded the administration's target for the first enrollment period.
Former Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius called the rollout of the government’s healthcare reform law “terribly flawed” and said the administration’s original predictions about its timetable were “flat-out wrong” in a Sunday interview on NBC’s Meet the Press following her resignation last week.

Sebelius attempted to stay positive while acknowledging the failures of the rollout. “Could we have used more time and testing? You bet. I’ve said that from the start,” she told NBC‘s Andrea Mitchell. “But the site actually works. And the great thing is, there’s a market behind the site that works even better. People have competitive choices and real information for the first time ever in this insurance market.”

Sebelius also reiterated that she wasn't forced out of the administration, but that she had always planned on leaving at some point, but that she wanted to see the first enrollment period completed before going.
“I made a decision at the election that I couldn’t leave, along with a lot of my colleagues who left at the end of the first term,” Sebelius said. “That didn’t seem to be even a topic to even consider since there was still one more chapter in the Affordable Care Act to roll out … So staying on made good sense to me.”
Sebelius's departure does allow Republicans to keep the subject of Obamacare alive during the confirmation hearings of President Obama's pick for a replacement, Sylvia Mathews Burwell. Burwell is currently director of the Office of Management and Budget, a post she obtained with a 96-0 confirmation vote in the Senate. The fact that Burwell got unanimous support from Republicans won't knock them off message, however, in this instance: "The Republican message, according to one senior aide: 'We would argue that there is no person on earth capable of making this horrible law work.'"

Burwell's appointment really isn't in question; last year's filibuster reform for executive and judicial nominations means that Democrats can easily overcome Republican efforts to block her.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 08:11 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (22+ / 0-)

    "The NSA’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything. [...] There would be no place to hide."--Frank Church

    by Joan McCarter on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 08:11:19 AM PDT

  •  Another 48 hour story, really (14+ / 0-)

    So Sibelius is leaving, what of it?  She'd been in office a long time for a Cabinet officer, and whether she left or was pushed out is pretty peripheral to further ACA developments.  She gives the chattering classes something to chatter about, but that's about it.

    Burwell is an administrator, which is what the administration felt it needed, I suppose.  It would have been nice to see somebody with a health policy background named, but then this administration is likely done with health care initiatives at this point aside from implementation of the ACA.  

    At this point, Republicans predicting doom for the ACA is the biggest dog-bites-man story imaginable.

    We have always been at war with al Qaeda.

    by Dallasdoc on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 08:17:02 AM PDT

    •  if she'd left (6+ / 0-)

      at the height of the rollout problems, that would have been the story, and it would have made the pr part of mess worse. now, it's just more gop whining, more beltway babble that no one else cares about, and we'll get confirmation hearings that will be a great chance for democrats to point to the aca's successes and another chance for the gop to throw a tantrum. the time was right, indeed.

      The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

      by Laurence Lewis on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 08:28:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wouldn't make a bad campaign strategy (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Laurence Lewis, hbk

        Democrats could give Republicans excuses to go berserk about Obamacare from here to November, while countering with success stories.  Koch brothers' lies don't seem to be moving the needle much, no matter how many millions they spend.

        Making the election about billionaires trying to buy our democracy, and standing (however insincerely) for reducing income inequality is not a bad platform for Democrats this year.  Here's hoping they'll seize the chance to win a midterm for a change, and not shoot themselves in the foot yet again.

        We have always been at war with al Qaeda.

        by Dallasdoc on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 08:55:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'd be surprised if the WH strategists planned... (0+ / 0-)

          ... Secretary Sibelius's departure that way.

          With respect, She was not at fault. They didn't need to hang up another bloody head, particularly now. Republicans are already hoisting themselves on the petard of their own making.

          This was botched. Doing it now was an unforced error. She deserves a better legacy than "Goodbye, and on your way out, shake hands with your successor!"

          2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

          by TRPChicago on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 09:33:52 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  canada (0+ / 0-)

        at least she went to Canada to do the software. could have saved a ton of money if she would have went to china like the rest of  America's corporations.

        how is that trickle down working for Americans that Reagan sold them. hey they  still love it corporations are moving over there every day.

        even Obama loves Reagan, Americans even named a big boat after him. who knows what they will do for bush jr with his starting an illegal war.

        hey maybe name a whole city after him. OK a christian religious university built him a library for his war mongering.

    •  Burwell a very motivated woman (0+ / 0-)

      and the timing is essential, not too close to the election but after the end of the first enrollment.  It was a huge job, and the ACA was an add on.  Sebelius looked less tired days after she'd announced.  That job was 24/7.

      the communication problem is from Obama's inner circle, not Obama so much as the jealousy's of his circle, they ought to have been warmer to her in public, but they're not that way.  

      If it were a ball team, her contract would have been sold as soon as they'd worn out her pitching arm, and she'd be replaced with the youngest and hardiest talent. There is no room for sentiment when it comes to running governmental agencies.  Sebelius is a smart cookie, and she's earned her place in history.  No one will remember Burwell, unless she's a rising star and Hillary finds a top place for her, but Kathleen will  be remembered.  

  •  well Done, good and faithful servant (9+ / 0-)


    The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. -- John Kenneth Galbraith

    by Kangaroo on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 08:23:58 AM PDT

  •  Truth will out (8+ / 0-)
    “But the site actually works. And the great thing is, there’s a market behind the site that works even better. People have competitive choices and real information for the first time ever in this insurance market.”

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013 (@eState4Column5).

    by annieli on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 08:24:09 AM PDT

  •  Thanks Joan nt (5+ / 0-)

    nosotros no somos estúpidos

    by a2nite on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 08:26:16 AM PDT

  •  I'm sure Andrea Mitchell acted sympathetic while (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gffish, Matt Z, hbk

    trying to get her to criticize the President. Her style of interviewing is so transparent.

  •  That ole familiar "disastrous rollout": (4+ / 0-)

    It's what's for dinner.  
    On TV, on NPR, in the Times.  Everywhere.

    Haven't we kicked this dead horse enough already??

    "It ain't right, Atticus," said Jem. "No, son, it ain't right." --Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

    by SottoVoce on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 08:27:13 AM PDT

    •  No we haven't. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SottoVoce, gffish, FindingMyVoice

      You know why not? Because nobody pushes back. It's like the ACA is the unpopular kid in middle school, and nobody wants to be caught dead defending it.

      So we're going to be hearing about how a glitchy website is "Obama's Katrina" until our grandkids are grey.

      Early to rise and early to bed Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and dead. --Not Benjamin Franklin

      by Boundegar on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 10:08:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I expect corporate TV "news" shows, which are (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ybruti, FindingMyVoice, hbk

        mostly wall--to-wall Republicans, to spout the party line.  But the Times?  I wrote a scathing letter the day the deadline was reached and millions gained insurance, because I was appalled by their gloating, negative, utterly political coverage.  When my letter wasn't chosen, I figured I'd read some other people's letters--certainly hundreds of people must have written to complain, and expressed themselves better than I did.  Instead, no complaints were printed at all, and their coverage has continued to trumpet failure, failure, failure.  Ditto, NPR.  The people who need to push back are not citizens, who are clearly being ignored.  It's Democratic politicians, who need to step up and praise the law.

        "It ain't right, Atticus," said Jem. "No, son, it ain't right." --Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

        by SottoVoce on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 10:19:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  She stuck it out (5+ / 0-)

    she corrected what wasn't working and quit after it was.  She also quit soon enough for Obama to get in a replacement before the politics heat up for the midterms, and early enough so that Obama won't face a hostile Senate for the confirmation of her replacement.

    If I were her, there were certainly things I would have done differently.

    by chloris creator on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 08:32:39 AM PDT

  •  Obviously,... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joe Bacon, gffish, Matt Z, FindingMyVoice

    ...John McCain was unavailable for his weekly visit.  This story was the next best thing.  

    I'm not always political, but when I am I vote Democratic. Stay Democratic, my friends. -The Most Interesting Man in the World

    by boran2 on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 08:37:01 AM PDT

  •  Time has come (7+ / 0-)

    For the Democrats to use Ms. Burwell's confirmation hearings to inflict blunt-force trauma on the heads of the Republicans. It is a great achievement even if it doesn't go far enough. Time to stop running scared!

  •  I have no issues (6+ / 0-)

    with Sebelius.

    There were a multitude of reasons the roll-out failed.

    The 2 main obstacles:
    Not enough financing.
    Laws in place that inhibited the system.

    Despite tremendous opposition, she got the job done.

    I don't blame her for not wanting to be the punching bag any more.

    Suddenly, it dawns on me, Earnest T. Bass is the intellectual and philosophical inspiration of the TeaParty.

    by Nebraska68847Dem on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 08:47:01 AM PDT

  •  It makes it harder to change the history books (6+ / 0-)

    "Sebelius's departure does allow Republicans to keep the subject of Obamacare alive during the confirmation hearings of President Obama's pick for a replacement, Sylvia Mathews Burwell. "

    That's a good thing.  

    The ACA would otherwise drop off the radar screen for a few months, now that open enrollment for the year is over, and before the 2014 races heat up.  If you believe that the tide is turning, has already mostly turned, on ACA popularity, the last thing you want the Rs to have is several months of silence about the ACA in which they get to back off their shrill opposition to the ACA, and pose as far more moderate on the issue when the issue resurfaces in the final months of the election season.

    So, yes, let's have a long, contentious nomination fight.  Let's let the Rs continue to shout themselves hoarse over the ACA being worse than National Socialism.  Don't let them stop shouting until it's too late to quietly change their tune before the election.  

    The states must be abolished.

    by gtomkins on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 08:49:54 AM PDT

    •  The confirmation hearing for Sylvia Matthews (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gtomkins, hbk

      Burwell will be a dog and pony show.

      But she will be easily confirmed. The new rules allow her to be confirmed with 51 votes.

      Not even all the democrats need to vote for her.

      50 + Biden will do it. If Hagan, Landreau, Begich and Pryor are worried about November, they can vote no and she will still be confirmed.

      •  Make it our dog and pony show (0+ / 0-)

        It's great that the pressure is off those hearings in terms of their final outcome.  That means that they can be used to let the Rs hang themselves.  

        We'll have this perfectly reasonable, totally inoffensive, center right (she ran the Walmart Foundation, ferchrissake!) candidate, who has already passed confirmation for her present job at OMB, and the folks who run their party, talk-show hosts, are going to foam at the mouth freak out that she's just like Himmler, Goebbels and Goering combined.  Their Senators will not dare break ranks with that nonsense, so the nation will get yet another chance to see their Republican Party in action spraying its essence, eau de rabies, over everything in sight.  As long as we have a nominee willing to put up with a few months of this nonsense, by all means our side should let it drag on, bend over backwards to let the Rs hash this out at the greatest length possible.  

        But in this case, it's not just that it does our side good to let them throw another tantrum in the spotlight.  Their Congresscritters running for re-election, and their Congresscritter wannabes running for the first time, badly need a break in public attention paid to the ACA in order to let them retune their message on the ACA.  They need it individually in their individual messaging, but they need it even more as a party, to reconcile their total loonies to the electoral need to move away from the rabid anti-ACA position.   Keeping the ACA in the spotlight with prolonged hearings denies them that break.  

        The states must be abolished.

        by gtomkins on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 10:40:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Republicans will always have Benghazi!!!™ (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Bogard and Bacall will always have Paris but Republicans will forever be stuck with Benghazi!!!™, Obamacare rollout, and IRS non-scandal among a bunch of other crap issues that no one will care about.

    What stronger breast-plate than a heart untainted! Thrice is he arm'd, that hath his quarrel just; And he but naked, though lock'd up in steel, Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted. Henry VI Part II Act 3 Scene 2

    by TerryDarc on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 08:56:03 AM PDT

  •  THANK YOU Again, Harry Reid (8+ / 0-)

    Its important to note that Thanks to Reid's previous decision to change Senate rules so that debate on Presidential nominations can be limited by a simple majority vote, Republicans cannot block Burwell's appointment.  They can only stomp their feet and trash talk for a limited period of time, but they can't keep HHS without its head for an indefinite period of time in an effort to cripple the ACA.

    THANK YOU Harry!

    "Some men see things as they are and ask, 'Why?' I dream of things that never were and ask, 'Why not?"

    by Doctor Who on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 08:58:47 AM PDT

  •  It was the perfect time for Sebelius to leave (6+ / 0-)

    I think she was going to leave anyway this year, since she has been at HHS since the beginning of the Obama admin.

    Leaving after the first enrollment and after hitting the sign up goal allowed her to exit on a high note.

    Another thing not mentioned: We are in a relatively calm period regarding Obamacare implementation. It would have been harder for Sebelius to leave later in the year as the admin geared up for the second enrollment period, and near impossible to leave anytime during the second enrollment period.

  •  One Tough JOB (8+ / 0-)

    How she held up this long is beyond belief...spine o' steel.

    Good luck to Sec. Sebelius...and get some rest. She held the hot seat but kept her cool.

    •  Did this abrupt departure LOOK like her decision? (0+ / 0-)

      Possibly it was her who has wanted out for some time. In which case, I'm glad the White House was smart enough to get her to stay ... and I'm sorry they changed their mind now.

      The political optics of this departure at this time are awful.

      2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

      by TRPChicago on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 09:38:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  You had 2 strikes before you hit the grand slam (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    homer Babe, you probably should get out of baseball.

  •  Had to be now (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gffish, Matt Z, SGA

    If by some chance Republicans take back the Senate they would not have filled the position and Sebelius would have been stuck there unable to leave.

    I would not be surprised at all to see anyone who might want to leave their post go in the next few months as a precaution in case the baggers take over government as Obama will get absolutely nothing from them and be told to like it.

    HP has a story on the front page about that very subject, and what would happen on the Supreme Court with a majority leader McConnell.

    It is scary to even think about, but it could be reality soon enough.

  •  I think that Sec. Sibelius did her best (0+ / 0-)

    and that this is another example of blaming the employee.  I hate those photo ops where the old and new person have to pose gamely together.  Even if Ms. Sibelius wanted to leave, I do not think she has been treated well.  The administration should have been more supportive of her.  She seems like a very classy and smart lady.

    "Why you sockdologizing ol' mantrap, you!"

    by ejoanna on Mon Apr 14, 2014 at 02:25:19 PM PDT

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