What boss wouldn’t want to have Kathleen Sebelius for a deputy?
By all accounts, the Health and Human Services secretary is smart, tough and hard working. She is also something that is increasingly rare in Washington: loyal to a fault.
The past few weeks have shown just how unshakable her loyalty can be. During a battery of largely hostile hearings, she has had to admit that the Healthcare.gov webpage and other problems related to the Obamacare rollout have been an absolute disaster. Yet she has refused to point fingers.
“Hold me accountable for the debacle,” Sebelius repeatedly testified. Pressured by Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS) to admit that President Obama bears responsibility for the program’s initial shortcomings, Sebelius refused to pass the buck.
She also defended the president’s provably false claim that people who liked their insurance plan could keep it post-rollout. Nor did she spill the beans on the various contractors who promised her that the Healthcare.gov website would not be besieged by technical problems. Now there’s a soldier who knows how to take a bullet.
That noted, the right thing for her to do is to step down.
Yes, Sebelius has shown that she is a person of character. But it’s worth remembering she spent most of the summer convincing governors and anyone else who would listen that the Obamacare launch would make things better. By any reasonable standard, that simply has not happened.
Is it unfair that hers should be the head that rolls? Probably. Is it a case of no good deed going unpunished? Perhaps. But when the president’s signature achievement has a worse rollout than the Edsel, it would appear someone must pay. And it’s not going to be the president.
And yet, her resignation appears unlikely. Why? Largely because Republican lawmakers have begun calling for it.
One such voice is Rep. John Fleming’s. The Louisiana Republican would like a larger prize, but he’ll take a scalp.
“The rollout of Obamacare, like the law itself, has been a mess,” Fleming recently told reporters. “For the sake of the American healthcare system, as well as jobs and the economy, Obamacare should be repealed. In the meantime, someone must be held accountable for wasting taxpayer dollars on a rollout that was more than three years in the making.”
Fleming joins Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), who earlier called for Sebelius to resign.
Maybe they should have just kept their mouths shut. For by insisting that she step down, they pretty much guaranteed that the White House would do everything possible to prevent that from happening.
After all, it’s one thing to make false promises while botching the rollout of a new healthcare system. And oh, by the way, frustrate millions of people desperately seeking health coverage. That much can be overcome. But let the other side have the satisfaction of getting what it wants? Sorry, Washington just doesn’t work that way.
So unless the Obamacare Jenga tower gets even wobblier, Sebelius seems safe. In fact, the biggest threat to her job might turn out to be Democrats worried about losing theirs.