The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

October 23, 2013

Frustrated Dems lament damage from website bugs

Minn. Rep. Nolan says president should fire those responsible

(Continued)

"It's regrettable. It can't be accepted. Gotta move on," DeLauro said.

Obama has turned to longtime adviser Jeffrey Zients, a veteran management consultant, to provide advice to help fix the system. And Obama has said he's instituted a "tech surge," bringing in leading technology talent to repair the painfully slow and often unresponsive website. But the administration has repeatedly declined to say how long that will take, raising questions about whether the full extent of the problems has been fully determined.

"They were reluctant to give a date — I don't blame them — on the fixes," said Rep. Janice Schakowsky, D-Ill. But they said the problems would be fixed in time for people to get enrolled by Jan. 1, the day that coverage through the exchanges begins.

The website's troubled debut was overshadowed by the partial government shutdown that started the same day the website went live. Last week, Obama and Democrats walked away from a no-holds-barred fight with Republicans over debt and spending with a remarkable degree of unity, made all the more prominent by the deep GOP divisions the standoff revealed.

The debt-and-spending crisis averted for now, the spotlight has shifted to Obama's health care law and the web-based exchanges, beset by malfunctions, where Americans are supposed to be able to shop for insurance. The intensified focus has increased the pressure on Democrats to distance themselves from Obama's handling of the website's rollout as both parties demand to know what went wrong and why.

As the administration races to fix the website, it's deploying the president and top officials to urge his supporters not to give up.

"By now you have probably heard that the website has not worked as smoothly as it was supposed to," Obama said Tuesday in a video message recorded for Organizing for America, a nonprofit group whose mission is to support Obama's agenda. "But we've got people working overtime in a tech surge to boost capacity and address the problems. And we are going to get it fixed."

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