(WASHINGTON) — Days before President Obama is set to deliver the annual State of the Union address, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told ABC News that passing and implementing the president’s signature health care law is worth any political consequences, including losing the Democratically-controlled Senate to the Republicans.
“This is not about politics. So the answer is, it is absolutely worth it, no matter what happens politically,” Carney said when asked about the possibility of losing the Senate during an interview at the White House for This Week.
“I just disagree that Republicans are going to have a winning issue on this if they decide to run on it, because they’ve got to explain what repeal means,” he added.
A new ABC News/Washington Post poll released Sunday found that 59 percent of Americans disapproved of the way Obamacare has been implemented.
Carney, asked by ABC News’ Jonathan Karl how the president could be an effective leader when the ABC News/Washington Post poll showed only 37 percent of the country thinks the president has the ability to make the right decisions for the country, acknowledged the botched rollout of Healthcare.gov, but also placed blame on the GOP for shutting down the government last fall.
“I think what we saw last year in 2013 was a Washington that did not deliver for the American people. When Congress decided to shut down the government in October, Republicans decided to do that — the American people looked at Washington and said…’What’s wrong with all these people we sent to Washington to work for us?’” he said.
“When Healthcare.gov got off to a terribly rocky start in October and through November, Americans probably said ‘Why can’t they get this right?”‘ Carney added.
During the interview, Carney also outlined the president’s vision for 2014, which Obama will reveal to the country in Tuesday’s State of the Union.
“The president sees this as a year of action…to work with Congress where he can and to bypass Congress where necessary…to lift folks who want to come into the middle class,” Carney said, adding later in the interview that “we’re actually optimistic that 2014 will be the year that Congress delivers to the president’s desk a bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform bill that meets the principles he laid out and that he can sign into law.”
The press secretary, a former reporter for TIME magazine, also defended the Obama administration’s record when it came to media access, pushing back against recent comments by New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson calling the Obama White House the “most secretive” she has ever covered.
“I strongly disagree with that statement. I know from experience that it’s wrong. And you know, we provide an extraordinary amount of information and access to reporters. And we work every day to provide more,” he said.
Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio
Eric Bradner, CNN Newswire
Nia-Malika Henderson and David Mark, CNN Newswire