January 29, 2014
President Barack Obama said his biggest mistake of 2013 was the rollout of the Obamacare website. But the website was just a small manifestation of the many real problems with Obamacare, some of which have only recently become apparent. Actually, his biggest mistake may have occurred during the government shutdown negotiations, by not taking the Republicans up on their efforts to postpone its implementation by a year. Just think of the concessions he might have gotten from them on a host of other issues—such as immigration reform and the minimum wage—and the aggravation he could have avoided if he had agreed to push the pause button until after the 2014 election.
Accuracy in Media has pointed out many of the problems with Obamacare. It is a job-killing disaster, it was sold to Congress and the American public based on a series of lies, and it is doing serious damage to the quality of healthcare in this country. Millions of people have had their policies cancelled, with tens of millions more expected to have theirs cancelled once the employer mandate kicks in. The fact that President Obama has arbitrarily delayed aspects of the law, such as the employer mandate, means that he recognizes them as politically damaging to the Democrats.
People are being asked to sign up on a website that is not secure, and is in fact even less secure than it was two months ago, with no recourse for ordinary citizens if their most personal information is hacked. And the government is misrepresenting and concealing the number of people signing up for Obamacare, by not distinguishing between previously uninsured people who have now purchased insurance from those who have merely gone online to explore their options, or those who are signing up for Medicaid or subsidized policies.
The health insurance industry (which last week saw its “Industry Outlook” in terms of creditworthiness, as characterized by Moody’s, go from stable to negative) is protected against losses by a taxpayer-funded bailout provision in the so-called Affordable Care Act.
The incentives are perverse throughout Obamacare, such as cities with unfunded health-care commitments preparing to dump their retirees on the state exchanges, and companies reducing the number of full-time employees and the number of hours they can work. And the system is supposed to be enforced by the IRS, which has been highly politicized under this administration. What could possibly go wrong?
On top of all that, there has been the serious problem of cronyism. Healthcare.gov is additional proof that cronyism continues to be the name of the game in America under President Obama. As AIM previously explored in a special report, CGI Federal was awarded the contract to work on the government health care website after donating extensively to the Obama campaign. It was the only bidder. The company’s senior vice president also attended Princeton with Michelle Obama. Remember when no-bid contracts were a source of outrage and cause for investigation? No more.
Now, the Canadian-owned CGI Federal is out; and a new company, called Accenture, is in. Except that the company winning this no-bid contract has offices in Chicago and is incorporated in Ireland, which its spokesman says “reflect[s] its global business across Europe, Asia, and the Americas.” It works through tax havens. “Accenture previously was incorporated in America but then reportedly moved to the tax haven of Bermuda,” reported Aaron Klein for WorldNetDaily. Bloomberg News wonders why the Senate isn’t investigating Accenture for using tax havens, like they investigated Apple last year for that very same matter. “Democrats in Congress generally don’t want to be seen badmouthing the White House,” they conclude, “or the Affordable Care Act.”
And Accenture looks to be a hefty Obama supporter as well. Accenture employees, family members, and its political action committee gave nearly four times as much to Obama as they did to Mitt Romney. They have given nearly $300,000 to Obama’s campaigns over the years.
In a letter to Front Page Magazine, Accenture Director of Corporate Communications James McAvoy clarified that the Accenture PAC itself did not contribute to Obama’s Senate campaign or his presidential campaigns.
But the amount given by employees overall is dwarfed by the amount bundled by Accenture senior manager Tracey Patterson’s husband, Chaka Patterson. He is listed on the Obama-Biden website as having bundled over $500,000 for the re-election campaign in 2012. Chaka received a shout out from the President on June 1, 2012, when he was traveling through Chicago and Minneapolis to make six fundraisers in one day. Chaka’s and his wife’s party was among them.
And another former employee of Accenture, Rayid Ghani, self-identifies as the former “Chief Scientist at [the] Obama for America 2012 campaign.”
“Rayid Ghani, chief scientist of the Obama for America data analytics team, came to the Obama campaign in 2011 after a long stint directing the analytics research group at Accenture Technology Labs, where he engineered new ways for companies to track consumers’ personal preferences,” reported The Daily Caller.
In other words, the administration transitioned from using a company for its government website that had known ties to the Obama administration to one that has less-well-known ties—but arguably ones that also run deep.
Where are the mainstream media in reporting this information? They seem to have no interest in exposing Obama’s revolving-door cronyism, and no-bid contracts. Can it get any worse for the American taxpayer?
Yes, it can.
It seems that, according to the New York Post, Obama has effectively outsourced his health care project by giving it to this company. “Accenture has 80,000 Indian workers, 35,000 in the Philippines and only 40,000 in the United States,” reported Robert Oak for the Post on January 18. “Over 40 percent of their worth comes from outsourcing. In all probability, the tech jobs awarded under this contract and paid for with U.S. tax dollars are going abroad.”
“But even if the work is done locally, chances are the employees are foreigners brought in for lower wages using the controversial H-1B visa program—where companies are allowed to hire guest workers from abroad,” reports Oak. In other words, those working on the website likely come from outside the U.S. and are paid as much as 25% less than American workers.
Accenture ranked very high among American companies in using these visas, reports Oak. The year before last, Accenture brought in over 4,000 foreign workers on these visas; they even paid one “chief programmer” about $25,000 a year.
The rationale, argues Oaks, for hiring foreign engineers and programmers is that there aren’t enough American ones. But, he notes, “It has been proved repeatedly there is no shortage of Americans with technical skills and talent.”
Will Accenture’s future employees be paid fairly? Probably not. Oak reports that in 2012, the median salary for an H-1B visa worker at Accenture was about $30,000 less than the median salary for an equivalent visa worker at Amazon.
For a comprehensive overhaul of the U.S. health care system and a vital component of Obama’s signature legislation, the administration has chosen to rely once again on a foreign-affiliated technology company with ties to Obama’s own fundraising apparatus. This is one company guaranteed to underpay its workers and outsource its production.
It’s time the media took notice of these facts and stopped ignoring the inconvenient truths about Accenture—and about Obamacare.
This commentary originally appeared at AIM.org and is reprinted here with permission.