If we didn’t already know Americans have changed quite a bit over the last 40 years, we certainly do now. Unfortunately since 1972 Americans have become less trusting of one another. No, this is not a reflection of how we feel about big government or big business. This is a gauge of how Americans feel about their neighbors.
According to a new poll out this week, only one-third of Americans believe that most people can be trusted. Back in 1972 half of Americans gave this same answer.
The poll found that many Americans are suspicious of each other in simple everyday encounters. And only one-third trust clerks who swiped their credit cards, other drivers out on the roads, or even people they meet while traveling.
This finding is worrisome for many different reasons, but mainly that our democracy is founded on the idea of social trust. Without this trust it is nearly impossible to compromise and make deals, or even have people work together when they have different opinions. Trust helps promote economic growth.
According to the findings, in general people tend to get more trusting with age. But since the birth of the baby boomers, each generation is starting adulthood with less trust in their fellow man. It’s hard to point to any one specific event or development that has caused this decline in trust, but it’s clear that many of the changes we have made over the last 40 years have changed who we are as Americans.
Some scientists are worried that we can’t get back to where we were, but some are looking to technology in order to fix this. Many believe that if we start using technology to connect and be more involved, perhaps Americans will be able to find trust in one another, yet again.
And really, really well by 2027!
When I checked Healthcare.gov around midday, my potential log-in process met an error message after just two clicks. I described the administration's mega whiff on Fox News this afternoon:
But Peter Doocy and Guy Benson work for Fox News, a notoriously biased right-wing outrage machine, Obamacare fans might complain. Fine. A correspondent for the lefty publication ProPublica offers this unsparing assessment:
After a glowing news conference yesterday citing “night and day” progress on HealthCare.gov, I decided to log in this morning and take the Web site for a test drive, as I’m sure many others are doing. Early reports had been promising. What I found was hardly encouraging — long delays loading pages, an endless circle of tasks (some already completed) and ultimately an error message. The load-time issues (sometimes more than a minute) reminded me of the problems users encountered in the very first days of the Web site, which handles health insurance enrollment for residents of 36 states. It also appears to contradict what Health and Human Services officials said had been fixed. “Response times are under 1 second. Error rates are down well under 1%. And the system is stable, with uptimes exceeding 90%,” HHS bragged in a blog post yesterday. Additionally, once I had completed and submitted my application and verified my identity, the site told me that I was missing information and had to review it again. Nothing was missing. Ultimately, I got an error message telling me to come back later. The Obama administration says the site can now handle 50,000 unique visitors at one time and 800,000 over the course of a day. But on Day One of the new-and-improved site, it doesn’t appear able to keep up with the load. No wonder HHS is encouraging users to come back at off-peak hours.
This is what the reporter eventually encountered on his screen (be sure to click through to read the transcript of his maddeningly pointless online chat with a besieged Obamacare navigator):
The Obama administration says the federal exchange is "now more in the zone" of achieving its own pitiful benchmark for success -- namely, the website working properly for 80 percent of users. Anecdotal evidence suggests that technical issues remain pervasive. Evidence to the contrary is based on the assertions of the government, which isn't sharing its data with the press. And again, we're talking about the front end of the site here. The equally-important back end remains riddled with errors, with entire systems still under construction. The New York Times reports that insurers are still extremely worried about these "vexing and complex" failures, warning that corrupted data and malfunctioning features may lead to chaos in January. Riffing off of this Kaiser Health News story, Allahpundit paints a bleak picture of Obamacare's coming attractions:
Even with the White House urging progressive nonprofits not to drum up extra interest in enrollment before December 23rd in order to keep site traffic manageable, traffic is still bound to soar. The site may well crash, right in the home stretch before the December 23rd deadline. Once December 23rd arrives, insurers will have just eight days to somehow process the last-minute crush of applications without error, even though some unknown portion of them will likely be riddled with data problems from Healthcare.gov. If/when the applications are processed, people will start discovering next month after they’ve made appointments that their insurer has never heard of them. They’ll also find out that that the relatively low-premium ObamaCare “bronze” plan they signed up for happens to come with a deductible that’s stratospherically high and a provider network that’s much smaller than they’d hoped for. And on top of all that, it’s an open question whether the risk pools in the exchanges will be as young and healthy as insurers need them to be or whether they’ll end up too old or sick to be sustainable. In other words — mass chaos. Like I say, this is merely the next eight weeks.
Jay Carney isn't quite sure whether people who've signed up for Obamacare plans will actually be covered in January. He also "believes" that most of the back end 834 errors have been dealt with -- just as Sebelius "feels like" the site's data security measures are intact. He says Americans should phone up their insurers just to double check. This group just exudes competence:
Carney: WH believes "the majority of fixes to 834 forms have been made," CMS will also tell ppl who have enrolled to reach out to insurers— Rebecca Kaplan (@RebeccaRKaplan) December 2, 2013
.@CMSGov says queeing system deployed in mid-30k range, looking at error rates, delays. Far from 50k.— Charles Ornstein (@charlesornstein) December 2, 2013
I've asked CMS four times now for the 834 transmission error rate. Four times, no answer.— Sarah Kliff (@sarahkliff) December 2, 2013
An appalling report via the Daily Telegraph: between 2003 and 2012, 1,158 “home residents” died of thirst or severe dehydration. Worse, these patients weren’t even abandoned or alone or forgotten; they were supposedly under the supervision of trained medical professionals:
More than 1,000 care home residents have died of thirst or while suffering severe dehydration over the past decade, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.
Elderly and vulnerable patients were left without enough water despite being under the supervision of trained staff in homes in England and Wales.
One spokeswoman for a charity organization described the treatment of Britain’s helpless and elderly patients as an “utter disgrace”:
Charities called for an urgent overhaul in social care, saying that the general public would be outraged if animals were treated in the same way.
“How can we call ourselves civilised when people are left to starve or die of thirst? … It is an utter disgrace that they are ever left without the most basic care,” said Dr Alison Cook, a director at the Alzheimer’s Society.
The official figures are indeed bone chilling:
Figures obtained by this newspaper under freedom of information laws found that 1,158 care home residents suffered dehydration-related deaths between 2003 and 2012. Dehydration was named as either the underlying cause of death or a contributory factor, according to analysis of death certificates by the Office of National Statistics.
Some 318 care home residents were found to have died from starvation or when severely malnourished, while 2,815 deaths were linked to bed sores.
The real figures are likely to be far higher because residents who died while in hospital were not included.
The National Health Service (NHS), as Guy points out, is a single-payer system run by the British government. Such reports, therefore, seem to raise questions about the efficacy of such an institution, especially since these figures do not even include the poor souls who perished outside their own homes. Meanwhile, here in the States, many prominent Democrats are proudly on-the-record voicing their support for single-payer. According to them, it’s what we can all look forward to if and when Obamacare implodes. How splendid.
UPDATE: See this post for clarification about where these figures came from.
Speaking to reporters Monday at the White House, Press Secretary Jay Carney couldn't directly say whether people who have "signed up" for Obamacare will actually have health insurance starting on January 1.
"We're telling consumers if they're not sure if they're enrolled they should call the insurer directly," Carney said.
Millions of Americans have lost their health insurance thanks to Obamacare and have been unable to successfully sign up for another plan. Five-million Americans have lost their health insurance plans while only 100,000 people have either signed up for Obamacare or have put a plan in their shopping cart on Healthcare.gov or through state-based exchanges.
The White House is touting an improved website, but insurers are reporting that data and personal information from Obamacare enrollees is being jumbled before it gets to them and therefore, people who have signed up, don't necessarily have health insurance coverage.
When pressed on the White House not meeting the November 30 deadline for the website to be completely fixed, Carney referred to the deadline as a simple stepping stone for the overall Obamacare rollout process.
"This was a marker along the road about the progress we needed to make," Carney said. "We said it wouldn't happen all at once...We're not done with the work that needs to be done on that website but I think we've passed an important milestone in getting in to work for the vast majority of users."
As of today, Healthcare.gov can handle 50,000 users at a time on the site. In the age of Amazon and Facebook, that's hardly a success. Today is Cyber Monday, which means Amazon will process orders for more than 13 million items.
"The end game is not the most effective website we can build," Carney said. "We are confident that we've achieved significant improvement and functionality in the website...We never said there wouldn't be any problems moving forward or an error website."
Carney also blamed Republicans for Obamacare delays.
In 1971, Pastor Jerry Falwell, Sr. established Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., now the largest Christian University in the world. Falwell founded the school with the hopes of empowering students to “go out in all walks of life to impact this world for God.” The school’s colors are red, white and blue. It’s no wonder, then, that when this freedom-loving institution faced the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate, which would force them to provide their workers health insurance or else face a fine, they responded by launching several challenges against the provision. Now, however, the Fourth US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va. has rejected Liberty’s arguments.
The Liberty University case that the Court chose to bypass (Liberty v. Lew,13-306) involved several challenges to the ACA that the Supreme Court either had refused to review, or had not been appealed to the Court, when the Justices two years ago ruled on the first constitutional challenges to the law. While agreeing then to review the individual mandate, it refused to review the employer mandate.
The Court in the end upheld the individual mandate under the government’s taxing power, after ruling that the provision was beyond Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause.
In addition to challenging the ACA’s employer mandate in Liberty University v. Lew, the school also questioned the health care law’s contraception mandate, which would violate the university’s religious conscience by requiring them to provide employees abortion-inducing drugs. The court denied this challenge by stating it was raised too “late.”
The New Civil Rights Movement claims
In a shocking act of hubris, Liberty University actually challenged the Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling that found Obamacare is constitutional, and directly questioned the Court’s ruling that called the individual mandate a tax. In Liberty vs. Lew, the University also challenged the employer mandate, including the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate.
Regardless of what the New Civil Rights Movement thinks, this is not just a blow to religious conservatives, but to all lovers of liberty. Consider the effect it’s already having on businesses who are hesitant to hire over 50 workers – the point at which employers will be forced to provide their workers insurance.
Approximately 31 percent of franchise and 12 percent of non-franchise businesses said they have already reduced worker hours because of the impending law. Additionally, 27 percent of franchise and 12 percent of non-franchise businesses have already replaced full-time workers with part-time employees because of the law, the report found.
Employers should not have to feel limited by the government or worried about expanding their businesses. Last time I checked, American entrepreneurship did not have a dead end.
As for the contraception mandate, it clearly violates the very ideals upon which Liberty University was founded. The Christian college should have the freedom to embrace religious liberty and practice the tenets of their faith without government intrusion.
Finally, since when is it hubris to stick up for one’s freedom? The government, with its federal overreach, has more than enough pride to go around.
If the ACA continues on its path of obstructing freedom, Liberty may have to change its name to the past tense.
Why? Because he must start showing the American public that he is taking responsibility -- i.e., holding his team accountable for their incompetence and negligence following the launch of the (still broken) Healthcare.gov website:
Former administration officials and Democratic operatives say President Obama is ill-served by his current White House staff and must reboot his second term team following the disastrous ObamaCare rollout.
First-term insiders argue the White House’s weakness was defined by a lack of preparedness, messaging blunders and failure to keep the president informed.
They say Obama’s team lacks depth after the departures of longtime advisers David Axelrod, David Plouffe, Robert Gibbs and Patrick Gaspard, and suggest new people must be brought on
“You basically have [White House senior adviser Dan] Pfeiffer and [deputy chief of staff] Rob Nabors running the show politically, and that’s it,” one former administration official said.
Democrats knew the Obamacare launch was coming; after all, they had four years to prepare for this seminal event. And yet they completely blew it. How? One reason, an insider tells the Hill, is because the president really didn’t know “how bad things were,” or something:
Ahead of the healthcare rollout, some argue that too much information appears to have been kept from Obama. He has said he was not aware of the debacle developing on the ObamaCare website even though warnings were coming in from consultants.
“The thing that pisses me off the most is there was a conscious decision not to tell the president how bad things were, and he was not well served by that,” the first former administration official said. “It would have been nice if he would have known how much crow he had to eat ahead of time. No one likes surprises.”
A better political strategy and messaging could not have solved all of the problems the White House faced with ObamaCare since its rollout on Oct. 1.
Spin could not have obscured error messages on an inadequate website, nor made people feel better upon learning that their health insurance plan had been canceled, despite assurances to the contrary.
Even if the president didn’t know the rollout was going to be a spectacular failure -- a big if -- I can see why party insiders want the president to start firing people. Immediately. The Affordable Care Act will almost certainly define his legacy. How, then, could White House staffers have allowed the rollout to go ahead as planned, especially if all the warning signs indicated that launching Healthcare.gov on October 1 was going to be a major bust? Someone must be held accountable, Democrats seem to be arguing, and surely it can’t be the president himself.
Then again, as Ed Morrissey notes, how many government employees were fired in the wake of the Benghazi terrorist attack -- or after the scandals at the NSA and IRS surfaced? Even Lois Lerner wasn’t fired, but placed on paid “administrative leave” the day after she pleaded the fifth before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. What kind of message did that send? Not a good one, obviously. Thus the president would be wise to heed the advice of members of his own caucus; failing to do so would simply make matters worse.
Remember, the administration is counting people who've selected plans through Healthcare.gov and placed them in virtual shopping carts as "enrollments," so this metric is both overly generous and quite misleading. To be fully enrolled, consumers need to select plans, receive confirmation from insurers, and make their first premium payment. To be covered by the first of the year, consumers must complete that end-to-end process within the next few weeks. Obamacare's website is working better on the front end -- although problems still persist -- but it's not "fixed" by any stretch. Back end flaws could create migrane-inducing backlogs on the insurer side of the enrollment equation, jamming up the entire operation. How many people are actually honest-to-goodness enrolled in Obamacare? We have no idea. We can only speculate based upon the administration's goosed numbers. So what to make of this news?
About 100,000 people signed up for health insurance through the online federal exchange last month, a roughly four-fold increase from October even as a team of U.S. government and contractor programmers was fixing the troubled Affordable Care Act website, said a person familiar with program’s progress. The preliminary November numbers reflect individuals who successfully selected a plan. The administration expects that most consumers will sign up early next year as the enrollment period nears its March 31 close, said the person who asked for anonymity because the final numbers were still being calculated.
October's number was a pathetic 27,000 -- so breaking into six figures in November obviously represents a relative improvement. But it's equally obvious that this figure is objectively terrible. The administration hoped to have 800,000 Americans fully enrolled in Obamacare by the end of November. If Bloomberg's scoop is correct, Team Obama is less than 20 percent of where they need to be by now, at least through the federal site. They've achieved roughly three percent of their overall 2014 enrollment projection of seven million. Also missing from the official numbers is a sense of the all-important demographic composition of the risk pool. Early indicators on that front have been worrisome. Despite the government's braggadocio about the new and improved Healthcare.gov, White House officials have quietly decided not to launch a major enrollment PR campaign -- a sure sign that the system's technological advances are tenuous. Indeed, Sebelius and friends are recommending that Americans attempt to sign up during off-peak hours, an odd request if the system is "90 percent" repaired. Officials are also wavering on their own assertions, such as claims that the site can handle 50,000 concurrent users, resulting in a seamless experience for 80 percent of consumers. Which brings us back to those pesky back end troubles. John Dickerson describes the backlog problem I referenced above:
Insurance company sources tell the National Journal that there is still about a 5 percent error rate in the information the site submits to insurance companies on behalf of those picking a new insurance plan. If the site is fixed but this problem is not, the problem could get worse. People would sign on, fill out the forms, and insurance companies would be flooded with bad data. That would delay insurance companies sending out bills, which is the necessary step required for a person to actually have insurance by Jan. 1. For those in the individual market who have coverage now, if they don’t sign up by that deadline, they will be exposed.
Team O has made upgrading average people's online experience a top priority, which makes sense politically. If people are still banging their heads up against relentless error messages into mid-December, the headlines will be disastrous. But even if the front end mess is tidied up, the subsequent crush of new applications threatens to overwhelm insurance companies with corrupted data -- which will, in turn, prevent the enrollment process from moving forward properly. In other words, improved site capacity and fewer people stuck in 404 purgatory are positive signs for Obamacare, but that progress could easily be stunted or reversed by complex back end failures. These issues will be less visible to average people at first, but the ship still sinks if there are leaks in key compartments. People are either insured, or they're not. Obama may spare himself some political pain in the short term by focusing on cosmetic fixes, but what happens when newly uninsured people (thanks to Obamacare) aren't covered in time for the new year and suffer health emergencies? I'll leave you with this. Ta-da:
UPDATE - One more point of perspective: As of early November, five million people had lost their coverage under Obamacare -- a number that has surely grown. Based on the data above, roughly 130,000 have gained coverage through Healthcare.gov. Disaster.
Despite promises from the president that healthcare.gov would be better for the "vast majority" of people by December 1, the website has once again run into problems.
Simply clicking the "log in" button will trigger an error message explaining that the website currently has "a lot of visitors right now!" and urges customers to leave their email addresses and try again another time.
President Obama had said he believed things with the website would only get better from this point on, but it appears that his prediction was slightly off.
On Friday, the website went down for an extended period of time to "fix" the majority of the problems and expand capacity to 50,000 people.
For the first time in years, more Americans find Hillary Clinton "unfavorable" than "favorable" - although she is still the clear leading potential Democratic nominee for 2016.
The change is likely due to a plethora of recent bad press around the Benghazi scandal, despite the fact that reports from The Weekly Standard, ABC News, and CBS News were later debunked and retracted.
The YouGov/Economist poll makes it obvious that public discontent with Clinton is a recent phenomenon:
During much of her tenure as Secretary of State, Clinton enjoyed generally positive ratings, ratings that continued through much of the spring following her departure from Foggy Bottom: from January through April her net favorability numbers fell below +15 only three times.
But starting around mid-May of this year, the positive feelings began to recede and the secretary’s image has not recovered since, with nearly half of Americans (48%) now holding an unfavourable opinion of her, compared to 46% with a favourable one, for a net rating of -2.
Clinton's favorability decreased between January and November of this year within every demographic, including Democrats. However, a majority of Democrats, Blacks, and Hispanics still consider her favorable today:
As of the end of October, 76% of Democrats supported Clinton as a presidential candidate in 2016, an even larger majority than previous polls had indicated. Yet if there is one thing the favorability poll proves, it is that the political tide can turn very quickly.
Although the latest numbers are important, they are unlikely to stay the same for long.
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