Among people along all three axes.
1. The progressives are much less forgiving of the Obama Administration’s management failures than are the rest of us. Some of us saw the problem as baked into the law. It was pointed out that the law mentions the word “web site” over 130 times, which is an indication of how complex the requirements could be. I made my point that Amazon and Kayak emerged out of a tournament involving thousands of companies. I said that if Obamacare had been a private-sector start-up, its odds of success would have been less than one in a thousand. Others pointed out that in the private sector you usually start with a small, minimally-functional prototype, not with a full-blown, full-featured system. Still others pointed out that the features of Obamacare are so tightly interconnected that it required perfect execution, which was extremely unlikely.
The progressives (especially those over age 40) wanted instead to emphasize the fundamental management flaws, such as not having a strong executive in charge of the project. They insist that Obamacare could have worked. Clearly, to suggest otherwise was to cast some doubts about the progressive approach.
2. The suggestion that some of us had of creating a “data extract” for the web site, so that it did not have to access other databases in real time, could not have been implemented. There is a law against the IRS giving out copies of its data.
3. The story was told that when Medicare Part D debuted out (in 2003, I believe), the launch was delayed three weeks because the system was not considered ready. Someone said that the Bush Administration put out the story that they did not want to launch the site on the Jewish Holiday of Yom Kippur. Of course, that is only a one-day holiday. Someone (not Jewish) joked that “But then you have sukkot” (a week-long holiday that comes a week after Yom Kippur). The best hope for Democrats is that the web site works well quickly
4. Nobody of any persuasion was buying David Cutler’s line that the slowdown in health care spending since 2008 reflects Obamacare.
5. Some of the state exchanges may be working better because states have been given an exemption from verifying eligibility for subsidies (at least, that is what I heard people say, but I may be wrong)
6. One journalist insisted that when President Obama announced his recent “fix” that would allow insurers to renew old plans, everyone knew that this could not possibly be implemented. The journalist said that the whole point was to keep the Senate from voting on a proposal to implement the fix. I guess the choice is between believing that Obama was an idiot (for thinking that state insurance commissioners and insurance companies could pull off a renewal so quickly) or a liar, and this journalist, who tends to be sympathetic to the President, implied that Obama (once again) was being cynically deceptive.
7. It was pointed out that non-libertarian Republicans should be sad about the failure of healthcare.gov, because many Republican health-care reform proposals have involved some sort of health exchanges.
8. People said that it is hard to make big policy moves in today’s environment. Trying Obamacare was like trying to privatize Social Security. President Bush wisely backed off of the latter (although he was not trying to privatize the entire program), and perhaps the Democrats would have been wise to back off the former.
9. President Obama’s reputation with young people as being “cool” has taken a tremendous hit. This could have long-term implications for how young people look at politics. My thought (which I kept to myself) is that at the moment President Obama seems to be adapting Atlas Shrugged for the 21st century.
10. The scenario for Obamacare’s death is that the insurance companies “defect” by leaving the exchanges or raising rates to unacceptable levels. As Obama’s personal political strength weakens, the “defect” scenario becomes more plausible.