At the White House Press Conference Tuesday, spokesman Jay Carney attempted to deflect criticism of the botched launch of Healthcare.gov.
Under pressure from Fox News reporter Ed Henry, Carney pivoted to cheap one-liners aimed at Republicans and sought to downplay the problems currently being frantically addressed by the Obama Administration and a “tech surge” of outside contractors.
Henry: “In this Washington Post report, if you could react, they are saying that the administration before the launch, days before, tested a key part of the website with a few hundred people, a simulation of a few hundred people logging on and the system crashed even though, as you have been touting, you were expecting millions of people, you didn’t know how many, but many many people trying to log on. So, was anyone at the White House informed at that time, days before the launch that this key test had failed?”
Carney: “Uh Ed, first of all let me just make clear that we are expecting that by the end of the six month enrollment period that millions of Americans will have enrolled to get affordable health insurance. We never said and never would have said and never expected or predicted that we’d get millions of people in the first days or weeks.”
Henry: “But there would be great interest in it?”
Carney: “Ed over many many days now, three weeks now, even though for several of them we were focused on the extreme damage Republicans were doing to the economy through the shutdown and brinksmanship, occasionally we would get questions about the Affordable Care Act and we noted that and I noted many times that the interest levels, the demand, as measured by the number of visitors to the site far exceeded what we expected and, again, there is no question that that’s on us and we need to fix these problems that have been identified and in some cases created by the significant volume of interest.”
Despite the manifest failure of the site on which two-thirds of Americans will depend to buy their government-mandated insurance, Carney continued to describe the breakdown as normal teething issues suffered by complex websites at launch. “I do not know about any specific tests and I would send you to HHS. What I can tell you is what I told you yesterday that we believed, from the President on down at the White House, that the website when it launched would function far more effectively than it did and has; and while there would be glitches as there always are with a launch of websites of this nature, of this complexity, in its initial stages, we did not anticipate the magnitude of the problems that we have seen.”