Jonathan Cohn

Senior Editor

The Obama Administration has spent a lot of time downplaying the problems with healthcare.gov. It hasn’t spent a lot of time talking about the real problems, how extensive they are, or by when it plans to fix them. That changed on Friday, when the Administration made three key announcements during its now-daily conference call on the status of repairs:

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Sorting out the commentary on Obamacare is a lot less important than sorting out Obamacare. But an interesting and potentially important debate has started in the last few days—one that gets at why the failures (so far) are so depressing and how (hopefully) the administration can fix them.

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One issue that came up in Thursday’s House hearings on healthcare.gov is the government’s decision, in the middle of September, to require that people create new accounts before browsing insurance plans. It's possible (although not certain) that this design decision contributed to the site’s problems, particularly in the early days. Account creation is a particularly complex process, one that has given the federally run website fits.

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You could make a good case that the last ten years have been relatively good for liberals. Democrats won two out of three presidential elections and controlled Congress for four years, two of them overlapping with the Obama presidency. It was a too-brief window, but during that time they managed to accomplish an awful lot—passing major of the financial sector, ending the war in Iraq, launching a major regulatory effort to tame climate change, formally allowing gays into the military, and finally passing something that looks like universal health care.

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The Obamacare online saga may be reaching the phase where media and political hysteria is out of proportion to the actual problem. A case in point is the controversy over enrollment numbers.

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President Obama’s Rose Garden speech Monday was supposed to send two messages—one, that he is determined to fix Obamacare’s troubled federal websites and, two, that the law is already helping many people get insurance. I happen to believe both claims, but I doubt the event convinced anybody with doubts.

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New bipartisan negotiations over fiscal policy are underway, as a result of the deal that ended the government shutdown. But don’t expect these negotiations to produce a “grand bargain” in which Democrats and Republicans each make major concessions.

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The Truth About the Obamacare Rollout

The feds botched the website. But the states are doing much better.

The feds botched the website. But the states are doing much better. 

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How Obama, Reid, and Pelosi Stopped Republican Extortion

Three reasons the Democrats won

It’s over. The Senate voted yes. The House voted yes. President Obama signed the bill and, on Thursday, the federal government is open for business again.

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Americans who want jobs or mortgages will suffer because John Boehner didn't have the guts to stiff the Tea Party

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