Paul Greenberg

By now Secretary Sebelius' department has missed one deadline after another when it comes to putting Obamacare in place. She fits right in with this administration. The president himself neglected to submit a federal budget on time for years, even if the law requires him to do so. Deadlines, shmedlines. But that's all right, it'll all turn out to be the Republicans' fault. Just you wait and see. Our chief executive is quite remarkable in that regard; he can turn any failure of his own into -- abracadabra! -- another partisan talking point.

Despite her talk about being on track, Ms. Sebelius' department has just announced that, even though a wide choice of insurance policies was supposed to be available for employees of small businesses, only one policy is offered for now. The others, the department tells us, won't be ready till 2015.

The board of experts that is supposed to reduce the cost of Medicare? It hasn't even been appointed yet, much less met. Look for it to be put on hold, too.

But the administration does seem in a hurry to hire hordes of "navigators" to recruit enrollees for the insurance exchanges that Obamacare is supposed to set up. These new hires are expected to cost the government -- that is, the taxpayers -- some $54 million, which is a hefty amount of patronage to distribute.

The word is the administration wants even more money to hire even more of these helpers. After all, you can't have enough navigators when you're navigating an unmapped sea of bureaucracy. Which is a pretty good summation of Obamacare at this point.

Meanwhile, the kind of professionals who may actually know what they're talking about -- actuaries -- have estimated that Obamacare is likely to mean higher costs for insurers, 32 percent more, to pay off claims under individual health-care policies. That's according to the Society of Actuaries. Those insurers in turn will doubtless have to charge higher premiums to cover their higher costs.

Conclusion: Buckle your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy ride. And an expensive one. . .

What, Kathleen Sebelius worry? It's nothing to be concerned about, she explains, because the insurance policies Obamacare will offer through these exchanges will cover so many more benefits than just the basics. Which is the big problem with Obamacare. Somewhere in all its reams of elaborate provisions there was once the germ of a good idea: Cover everybody in the country by having the government provide the now uninsured with just the most basic health coverage -- protection against "catastrophic illness," for example. Instead, Obamacare has grown like kudzu, covering everything from elective abortion to, well, you name it. (Liposuction, anyone?)

Sen. Baucus, who's just announced he won't seek re-election after six terms in the U.S. Senate, may have been reflecting his constituents' growing dissatisfaction with Obamacare as it is shaping up, or rather not shaping up. That dissatisfaction is scarcely limited to the good people of Montana. More and more folks all over the country may catch on to Obamacare before this not-so-grand experiment is concluded. Which means more and more politicians will echo their constituents' complaints about Obamacare as election year approaches. . .

Senator Baucus still contends that Obamacare was a good idea in its conception. Only its implementation, he explains, is faulty. Well, he's half right. For it was misconceived, too. In place of simplicity, Americans got complexity. Instead of a clear, simple reform, Americans are getting a vast bureaucracy that would make one of Rube Goldberg's machines look like a model of efficiency. Ol' Rube specialized in contraptions designed to accomplish some simple chore in the most complicated way, all for comic effect. Only there's nothing funny about this one.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.