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Obama agenda: Warning signs

The Washington Post looks at what went wrong with the health-care website, including early warning signs, a myriad of vendors, and no testing of the site until just a week before it went live. And that testing found lots of problems: “One key problem, according to a person close to the project, was that the agency assumed the role of managing the 55 contractors involved and had not ensured that all the pieces were working together. Some key testing of the system did not take place until the week before launch, according to this person. As late as Sept. 26, there had been no tests to determine whether a consumer could complete the process from beginning to end. … People working on the project knew that Oct. 1 was set in stone as a launch date. ‘We named it the tyranny of the October 1 date,’ said a person close to the project.”

Los Angeles Times: "President Obama conceded Monday that technical 'kinks' had bedeviled the rollout of the federal healthcare website, but said the administration had launched a 'tech surge' to fix it and emphasized that the law would give uninsured Americans access to reasonably priced, quality insurance. 'Nobody is madder than me about the fact that the website isn't working as well as it should, which means it's going to get fixed,t Obama told supporters in the Rose Garden. But he insisted: 'The product, the health insurance, is good. The prices are good. It is a good deal. People don't just want it; they're showing up to buy it.'"

The Post editoralizes that "This is the kind of annoying sideshow for which Mr. Obama ought to demand accountability. How is it that the Department of Health and Human Services launched the president’s signature domestic program with a computer system that could not handle the anticipated load? We share Mr. Obama’s frustrations with efforts by House Republicans and GOP governors to sabotage Obamacare. But the computer snafu was self-inflicted incompetence."

And the New York Times' editorial board writes that "Unless the problems can be fixed soon, they threaten to undermine the ability of the health care exchanges to help enroll some seven million uninsured Americans in 2014."

In a new Washington Post/ABC poll, 56% say the health care website failures are a sign of broader problems to come. But there are also signs of improvement for the president. More people approve of his handling of the implementation of the law, though it is still upside down 41/53 up from 34/55 a month ago; and there is more support for the law now than a month ago -- 46/49, up from 42/52.

A Pew poll finds by a 29/46 margin people saying the law is not working well; 41% of visitors to the federal website already have insurance; just 22% of the uninsured have visited, but 42% more say they will.

Dana Milbank was unimpressed with President Obama’s “sales pitch” on the Affordable Care Act yesterday. He writes, “Not since the Ginsu knife cut through an aluminum can and still sliced a tomato has America seen a pitch quite like the one President Obama delivered in the Rose Garden on Monday.” He concludes: “If Obama can’t fix the problems, and quickly, the opposition will slice and dice Obamacare and make it into Julienne fries -- and no sales pitch will save it.”

The Obama administration is bringing in Verizon to try and fix the health-care website’s problems.

HHS Secretary Sebelius will testify Oct. 30 before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Ohio, with a Republican governor, is expanding Medicaid. “Ohio became the 25th state to approve ObamaCare's Medicaid expansion Monday after a little-known legislative panel voted 5-2 in favor of the policy,” The Hill writes. “The move ends months of debate that saw Republican Gov. John Kasich circumvent the state's GOP legislature and gain a way forward through the bipartisan Controlling Board. Opponents of the expansion have already vowed to sue, arguing that the obscure seven-member panel lacks authority to approve wider Medicaid eligibility.”

President Obama spoke with French President Hollande yesterday because of the Snowden NSA leaks.