Last Tuesday, at a forum put together by the Wall Street Journal, President Barack Obama told a group of C.E.O.s that he was relatively sure that healthcare.gov would be “functioning for the majority of people who are using it” by November 30th, two months after its disastrous launch. He acknowledged that the process had been “rough, to say the least,” and added that, once the site does work, “we’re going to have to obviously re-market and re-brand.”
That’s not all he’ll have to do. In a CBS News poll released the next day, the President’s approval rating fell to thirty-seven per cent, the lowest it has ever been. The flawed rollout has put the rest of his policy agenda at risk and, with it, progressive ideas about what government can attempt and what a President can achieve—at a moment when an unprecedented expansion of health-care coverage could validate them. According to a new Gallup poll, only forty-two per cent of Americans now agree that the government should guarantee access to health care. In 2006, the number was sixty-nine per cent. The technical inadequacies of healthcare.gov may prove less of a burden than the political damage that has been done.