The Affordable Care Act isn't the first government program that didn't work as advertised. In addition to the problems with Obamacare, here is a list of some mishandled government initiatives.
Or rather, the hatred toward the first U.S. Bank.
First proposed and installed under George Washington and Alexander Hamilton in 1791, the first central federal bank was harshly criticized by the opposition, including future Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Once the bank's 20-year charter expired in 1811, Madison was more than happy to let it die. But when the country became entangled in the War of 1812, and found itself with no centralized or reliable way to pay for things, financial chaos reigned, and business figures quickly started demanding security on their government bonds.
And so, a mere five years after gleefully striking the first central bank down, Madison conceded to the establishment of the second one in 1816.
Of all the things on the list, few can match the impact the mishandled (often on purpose) implementation that Reconstruction had on efforts to rebuild a war-ravaged South in the aftermath of the Civil War.
A flip-flop government certainly didn't help, with "moderate" Reconstruction proponent President Andrew Johnson doing his best to impede the efforts of "radical" Republicans in their efforts to enfranchise black voters. So debilitating was the relationship that the radical Republicans attempted to impeach Johnson after he refused to go along with congressional measures in Reconstruction.
No sooner had Ulysses Grant become president, backing the radicals, than the conservative white Democratic Party began taking power again in the South and began tearing down Reconstruction on the local level. In the end, Reconstruction is widely considered a failure, with the South becoming poverty-stricken and blacks being subjugated to unfair laws and restrictions.
The banning of alcoholic beverages was deemed of such importance that it got its own amendment. It proved such a failure of such proportions that it needed another amendment to get rid of the ban.
Originally backed by well-intentioned Protestant farmers, the banning of booze may just be one of the biggest miscalculations by the government. Organized crime soared, many government officials turned a blind eye to moonshinning (or encouraged it) and in general it proved a fight that wasn't worth the cost, and after 13 years the government relented and Prohibition in the United States was repealed.
Much like the ACA exchanges, the Hoover Dam, a government-funded building project. also suffered from problems with private companies — in this case Six Companies — with deadly results.
Six Companies was to provide its workforce shelter in the hot desert, but when President Herbert Hoover pushed the project ahead by several months, many workers were left without shelter for the summer months. Several died from heat exposure in the blistering sun.
Another 40 died from carbon monoxide poisoning after Six Companies insisted on using gasoline-fueled engines when digging out the diversion tunnels. Those who died from the effects were listed as having died from pneumonia so the company would not have to pay compensation.
The Cold War was a time of intense rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union, leading to constant competition between the two. One such area of competition was seeing who could do a better job of blowing the other one up. To this end, each nation tested hundreds of atomic weapons.
In the U.S., especially during the 1950s, much of this nuclear testing was conducted above ground in the islands of the Pacific or in the deserts of the American West. The bombs were detonated a few thousand feet above the ground, with the fireball then sucking up material from the surrounding area, bathing it in radiation and sending it on its way across the surrounding area in massive mushroom clouds and winds.
Obviously, this had more than a few unpleasant side effects for those living even remotely close to the test sites, and by the time the government recognized the extreme harm the above-ground tests were causing, large portions of the West had already been bathed in harmful radiation. This may well be one of the saddest mishandlings of a program yet.
Whipping inflation in a timely manner, what better platform to rally public support?
It turns out a lot of things. At least that's the conclusion President Gerald Ford must have come to after his "Whip Inflation Now," or WIN, met with much public derision and cynicism without ever accomplishing any of its actual goals of raising public awareness against inflation.
In an effort to re-create the World War II era public support for programs, a massive marketing campaign including thousands of WIN buttons failed to give Ford the support he had hoped for.
Mass hysteria, impending doom, swine flu, a rush to get immunizations out. This might sound like 2009, but this time we're talking about the 1976 swine flu "outbreak."
After a case at the Army base in Fort Dix, N.J., resembled the 1918 Spanish influenza (H1N1) and turned lethal in early 1976, health officials kicked into overdrive to vaccinate the population against the disease, despite knowing that at least one of the vaccinations came with its own set of potentially lethal side effects.
Eventually it ended up costing $135 million to vaccinate roughly a quarter of the population before the effort was called off in December 1976 after people started dying from the vaccine, all in the face of only one death from the flu, the same case that happened at the start of the year.
There's good news, though, that there's evidence those vaccinated in 1976 were at less risk in 2009, so at least this had a long-term benefit.
A series of acts and laws providing for public funding of housing for low-income families in the early and middle part of the 20th century was well-intentioned but mismanagement by public officials in certain cities, and more importantly, the socioeconomic effects of concentrating poverty in certain areas led to abandoned concrete buildings sprinkled across the Midwest.
Known colloquially as the "projects," the failure of publicly funded and built housing has caused a shift away from building low-income housing to simply providing rent relief for low-income families through subsidies and assistance programs.
One of the signature pieces of legislation under the Bush administration was the creation of No Child Left Behind, mandating that states set higher standardized goals and tests for their schools in order to receive federal funding.
Met with criticism from its inception — encouraging teachers to only teach for the tests — one of the biggest setbacks to NCLB was the accusations that it ended up hurting students with disabilities through poor test planning by schools and inconsistencies in policies. In one instance, it was reported that a group of blind students had their test scores invalidated because the school didn't appropriately navigate having a teacher read out the questions being allowed.
The Affordable Care Act's most visible feature — the insurance exchanges for consumers — launched on Oct. 1 to a mass of "Page not found" errors. More than a month later, the websites are still plagued by many technical issues, delaying large numbers of consumers from signing up and accessing the websites.
Fingers have been pointed, such as too many different contractors working on things that required one company and not enough testing time allowed for political reasons. All in all, nothing seems to be going right for the exchanges a month after their botched launch.