During this morning's roundtable for Fox News Sunday, the panelists discussed several potentially damaging possibilities for President Obama. The most stunning thing mentioned by the panelists came when the AP's Julie Pace said that President Obama would have to issue a public mea culpa:
WALLACE: Well, Julie, which brings us to your story, which we have been talking about today. She is the one who broke the story that what -- the government says 476,000 people have applied on the various websites, they didn't say how many have enrolled. A couple of questions, first of all, one, what's the difference between applying and enrolling, and how much this one tell you about the other, secondly, as someone who've covered the White House, how worried are they about what's going on here? The president and his top people. And is Secretary Sebelius in any trouble?
JULIE PACE, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: The administration and the White House in particular is very worried about this. They have spent a lot of time, a lot of money on this program, and you can't say that this rollout has been anything short of embarrassing for the president. He's going to come out on Monday. He's going to address these problems. It's the first time we'll really have seen him do that -- I don't know how specific he's going to get, but this is sort of going to be mea culpa from the president. In terms of ...
WALLACE: Do you expect him really to say, we messed up here.
PACE: I think he's going to have to. I think if he comes out and says anything other than that, he's just going to be ripped apart, (inaudible) media, by the press, because this has really been a disastrous rollout. In terms of Secretary Sebelius, the administration says they have full confidence in her. That the president stands by her. I think they do have to think about the (inaudible) of this week, so. If she is going to be at a gala when she could be testifying before Congress, I think that just looks like they're not taking this as seriously as they should be.
Based on this article, President Obama won't issue a public mea culpa:
President Obama "will directly address the technical problems" with the ObamaCare website during a Rose Garden event Monday morning, according to a White House official.
The president will discuss work continuing "around the clock" to improve the website, which has been plagued by problems since its launch earlier this month. According to the White House official, the president and his team find those troubles "unacceptable."
The official said the president will be joined by "consumers, small business owners, and pharmacists," including individuals who have already enrolled in ObamaCare online.
It isn't in President Obama's nature to admit to a humiliating mistake. That's the biggest reason why he won't admit that. The other big reason he won't is because admitting that the exchanges are a humiliating mistake is because that'd almost certainly require delaying the individual mandate.
The problem that's getting the headlines is the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchange. That isn't the biggest problem for the Affordable Care Act. The biggest problem for the Affordable Care Act is the product itself, which George Will highlighted with exquisite precision:
WILL: The problem from the start, going back to 2009, the Affordable Care Act, as this debate began, a large majority of Americans had health care, and a large majority of that large majority were happy with their health care. Now they've devised a system that really depends at bottom on mass irrationality on the part of young people, that is. Not content to subsidize the elderly as they are doing through Social Security and other things. They now have to pay more than they were paying and more than they would have to pay in the tax fee, whatever we call it, by not buying ObamaCare. They have to pay more to set (inaudible), and once they see, once the exchanges are up and running and fully informing them, I think you're going to see sticker shock and a recoil against the Affordable Care Act.
"Mass irrationality" is the right term for what will be required to get young, healthy people to sign up. "Sticker shock" is what will happen when young, healthy people see the prices they'll have to pay for health insurance. Without young healthy people enrolling, the Affordable Care Act collapses of its own weight.
If President Obama tells people that the rollout has been problematic but that things will be fine, he won't find a receptive audience except amongst his loyalists. That's why support for the Affordable Care Act is likely to continue eroding.