Carney lauds O-Care even as site stumbles

The White House defiantly declared on Monday that they had resuscitated the president's signature healthcare law, pointing to a surge of last-minute ObamaCare interest.

"We were in a bad place in October and November, and it speaks to the determination of the president and his team to get it right … and we're going to have a very strong number when this period ends," White House press secretary Jay Carney said.

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The spokesman predicted that final enrollment numbers would be "substantially larger" than the 6 million figure announced late last week and accused critics as "grasping for other things to criticize about the Affordable Care Act" (ACA) after a spike in consumers signing up for plans.

Even as Carney was speaking, a technical problem temporarily prevented tens of thousands of consumers from creating new accounts on the online health insurance exchange.

It was the second service disruption of the day for the federal website and created a tough contrast for the White House, as they were touting the success of the ObamaCare implementation.

While service was restored to the site midway through Carney's daily briefing — a point he seemed happy to announce, after another White House official slipped him a note at the podium — the crush of users on the website meant many trying to purchase insurance still faced long wait times.

That didn't stop the White House spokesman from offering unbridled optimism about progress with implementation.

"I dare say that there are few people in this room, including some of the folks who work in the White House, who would have predicted" such high enrollment, Carney said.

He said the White House was "confident" it would get enough young and healthy voters to prevent demographic imbalances among enrollees from "overly negatively impacting prices and premiums."

He also directly engaged a pair of Republican senators who had criticized the administration over the law this weekend.

"We're achieving something today that I know has our critics gnashing their teeth," the White House spokesman said. "It leaves them with, you know, the need to go back to the drawing board when it comes to other means of trying to attack a law that is providing opportunity and security to millions of Americans."

During an appearance on Fox News this Sunday, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) accused the administration of "cooking the books" on the ObamaCare numbers.

Carney sarcastically called the accusation his "favorite" and compared Barrasso to Republicans who challenged the veracity of polls ahead of the 2012 election.

"If we were cooking the books, don't you think we ought to cook them in October and November?" Carney said. "We could have saved ourselves a lot of pain."

Carney also challenged Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who told Fox that, if he "were the leader of House, I would have an ObamaCare hearing almost every other day to find out what’s in these numbers.”

"It feels like we have," Carney shot back. "And maybe the days that there weren't hearings, they were voting to repeal it, but that seems to be an exercise in both futility and an exercise that reflects a political desire to deny from millions of Americans the benefits that they so clearly want."

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) released a statement Monday saying, "the problem was never just about the website — it's the whole law" and vowing to get the ACA off the books.

"House Republicans will continue to work to repeal this law and protect families and small businesses from its harmful consequences, and that’s why we’re taking action this week to repeal the law’s 30-hour rule that has become a significant barrier to job growth and higher wages," Boehner said.

Of course, Republicans see a political advantage in focusing in on ObamaCare and the troubles with the enrollment website, believing that highlighting problems with the law could enable their success at the polls in November. Last week, an Associated Press poll showed only 26 percent of Americans supported the legislation, an all-time low.

But Carney dismissed the survey as an "outlier" and claimed that other polls showed support for the law as rebounding.

"If you look at the Kaiser poll, the gold standard in public polling on this issue that came out last week as well, support for the ACA has recovered to pre-rollout levels," Carney said. "And while we still have much more work to do, that's positive progress."