Steve Forbes: Obamacare Launch 'Incompetent From Top to Bottom'

Image: Steve Forbes: Obamacare Launch 'Incompetent From Top to Bottom'

Friday, 25 Oct 2013 04:01 PM

By Andrea Billups and Kathleen Walter

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Publisher Steve Forbes minces no words when it comes to placing blame for the disastrous website rollout of the Obama administration's sweeping healthcare program.

"It's incompetence from top to bottom," Forbes told Newsmax TV in an exclusive interview Friday as Democrats continued to jump ship amid 2014 election fears and as the administration scrambled to fix a website that has kept untold thousands from registering for federally required health insurance.

"It starts with the top, with the president, and then everyone in the chain of command, including [Health and Human Services] Secretary [Kathleen] Sebelius," said Forbes, publisher and editor-in-chief of his namesake magazine. "Everyone knew there were going to be problems. And then something as complex as this, you have to bird-dog it every step of the way."

Editor’s Note: New 'Obamacare Survival Guide' Reveals Dangers Ahead for Your Healthcare

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"Clearly no one was in charge. They just let it contract and just hoped things would work out," Forbes said.

Moving forward, Forbes, who sought the Republican White House nomination in 1996 and 2000, shares the views of a growing bipartisan group in Washington and around the nation that the Obamacare program should be postponed.

"I hope the Republicans now hammer this issue as never before in terms of putting the individual mandate off," he said. "You're giving business, especially big business and especially favored unions, pet unions, exemptions. Why not the American people?

"The longer they try to dawdle around on it or punt on it, the worse it's going to get. Instead of six weeks they should do 12 months and, ultimately, forever."

Perhaps worse still, said Forbes, is the president's usurping of Congressional powers, changing deadlines arbitrarily, without the consent of lawmakers. Playing  "dictator," Forbes argues, has become de rigueur for the president.

"He's been doing it for five years now and by decree when he can't get it through Congress," Forbes said of Obama's pet initiatives. "You see that with the EPA and other agencies, the FTC, making things up as they go along. The National Labor Relations Board, you see egregious examples of ignoring courts, ignoring the law, so why should he start obeying the law now?

Editor’s Note: New 'Obamacare Survival Guide' Reveals Dangers Ahead for Your Healthcare

"The key is to challenge him on it, but in the meantime, if he thinks he can play dictator and do things just on his own whim, then we should push for the individual mandate not to be put off for a few weeks — but to be put off," Forbes said.

"If it's good enough to be put off for businesses, it's good enough for the American people."

Forbes said he wasn't surprised that Republicans were forced to cave during the shutdown fight, a victory that now seems to come back to haunt the administration with deeper woes over its signature accomplishment — healthcare reform. They shot too low, he said, and should have put Congress on the line to suffer the same way consumers have — and will.

"They really, to be blunt, led with the wrong foot on this one. They should have led with the individual mandate with Congress eating its own cooking, that is, no subsidies for Congress," Forbes said. "If it's the American people who have to go through this, Congress should as well, and perhaps do away with the device tax and a couple of other items.

He added: "If they had led with the individual mandate and eat your own cooking, the president would have been in far worse shape today and he would have caved, and it wouldn't be [pushed back] for six weeks. It would be for at least 12 months like he did for big business."

As for a new debt ceiling deal as the issue looms anew next year, Forbes said Congress should absolutely put on the table initiatives such as a flat tax, something he has promoted for years, even as Obama will most certainly press for another tax hike.

"The Republicans should see it as an opportunity to set the stage for the 2014 elections and, most important, a mandate for 2016." He said the debt ceiling should be replaced with a new regulation that spending can't go over a certain percentage of GDP.

"If it does, then congressional pay gets docked," Forbes suggested. "That would focus minds wonderfully."

Forbes said Janet Yellen, the nominee for Federal Reserve chairman, ought to be questioned extensively in congressional hearings on how she plans to push back on so-called quantitative easing.

"It's very hard to unwind and she's going to be under a lot of pressure to do it," Forbes said.

"Both she and [departing Fed Chairman Ben] Bernanke are astronomers who still believe that the sun revolves around the earth. And so she is in total sympathy with what Bernanke has done."

"That's [one] of the questions Republicans should push hard when they have confirmation hearings, and they should also hit her on things like, in terms of printing money, how is that different from counterfeiting?" Forbes argued. "Counterfeiting is illegal, but printing money is a way to stimulate the economy. Why not have everyone do it?"

Moving forward, Forbes said specifics of the ongoing financial crisis could be hard to predict, but he believes one crucial effort the country must undertake is to get the dollar stabilized. "It should be fixed to gold and the sooner we do it, the better," Forbes said. "There's a bond bubble out there. We had a housing bubble. Now we have a bond bubble."

Few other countries offer safe haven for investors fearing a worsening marketplace in the United States, he said.

"There is no safe haven because the commodity boom has tapered off. Other countries are not growing as fast as they used to, countries such as Australia, Brazil and Indonesia … So the best place to be even though we are going to have turbulent waters, is right here in the United States. You should have some diversification, obviously, around the world, but I would not want to be in a country like India or other countries when things get tough."

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