When it comes to the bungled rollout of the Affordable Care Act, former George W. Bush officials insist they’ve seen this movie before. In fact, they had a front row seat.
“There are moments in a presidency where everything is different afterward and I believe this is that moment,” former Bush communications adviser Nicolle Wallace said Friday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “For us, it was Hurricane Katrina because while public support had been dropping for the war in Iraq, after Katrina, after many members of the public and every member of the Democratic Party viewed us as incompetent and it transcended to everything else we did.
“You know, you can’t look in a crystal ball but I believe this is a moment after which everything will be different for the President,” Wallace added. “And if you look at the problems he’s facing in the world, with Iran and other issues, he’s going to miss his credibility very much.”
Can President Obama reclaim that credibility, host Joe Scarborough asked Wallace.
“Among large numbers of the public, no,” she said.
A former top national security aide to Bush agreed that the problematic launch of the Affordable Care Act — typified by problems with the website HealthCare.gov and a failed promise by Obama that consumers can keep their current plans under the law — mirrors Bush’s response to Katrina.
“The echoes to the fall of 2005 are really eerie,” Peter D. Feaver told the New York Times. “Katrina, which is shorthand for bungled administration policy, matches to the rollout of the website.”
Feaver added, “[W]e can see that some of the things that we hoped were temporary or just blips turned out to be more systemic from a political sense. It’s a fair question of whether that’s happening to President Obama.”
Bush was heavily criticized when he didn’t immediately return to Washington from his vacation in Texas after Katrina reached landfall. The federal government also failed to provide relief aid in a timely fashion and Michael Brown, then-director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), took heat for what was widely viewed as a detached response to the storm.