President Barack Obama invited Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius to throw herself under his 2014 campaign bus on Thursday.
When asked by an MSNBC anchor on Thursday if he supports Sebelius, whom he appointed to develop the crippled website for the government-run Obamacare network, Obama pointedly evaded the question and then changed the subject. The failure to defend her may spur expectations that she’s planning to resign.
“You know, I think Kathleen Sebelius [is] under tremendously difficult circumstances over the last four and a half years, has done a great job in setting up the insurance markets, so that there is good product out there for people to get,” he answered.
“You know, Kathleen Sebelius doesn’t write [software] code. She wasn’t our [information technology] person. I think she would be the first to admit that if we had to do it all over again, that there would have been a whole lot more questions than were asked about how this thing was working,” he added.
“My priority right now is to get it fixed,” Obama continued, causing host Chuck Todd to ask,“Is she still the right person to do it?”
“Ultimately, the buck stops with me,” Obama responded. “I’m the president. This is my team. If it is not working, it is my job to get it fixed.”
However, later in the interview, he suggested he would not fire his deputies for his and their failure.
“The easiest thing to do is to fire a whole bunch of folks, and say that ‘they should have done this, they should have done that,’ [but] my job… is to get it fixed,” he said.
Obama scheduled the interview with MSNBC to help control the political damage from his catastrophic Obamacare rollout, which has caused a slide in his poll ratings and given the GOP a major boost one year prior to the vital 2014 elections.
In the last few months, Obama has stepped up his fundraising and campaigning to help win a Democratic House majority in 2014, and to keep the Democrats’ Senate majority.
Obama also used the interview to offer a passive-voice, partial apology for repeatedly misleading Americans by declaring that Obamacare would not impact their existing insurance policies.
The repeated deception has been very damaging, because many voters now see millions of fellow of their Americans — including many influential professional-class supporters — being forced to take lower-quality, higher-priced Obamacare plans.
“I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me,” Obama said in a segment broadcast on NBC News.
“We weren’t as clear as we needed to be,” he said, about his numerous “you can keep it” comments. The law, he said, was written in “good faith… but obviously, we did not do a good enough job in crafting the law.”
In fact, his regulators use the law’s provisions in 2010 to set regulations that cancelled pre-Obamacare insurance policies if their prices and terms were changed modestly.
Obama also presented himself as the solution for a problem that he declined to take responsibility for creating.
“We’ve got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them and that we’re going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this,” he said. (RELATED: Obama apologizes to those who lost their insurance plans)
Obama’s statement did not actually include an admission of error or an apology — but it did include a declaration for sympathy for the people who believed his numerous, scripted and televised statements.
GOP leaders were openly skeptical, and called on Obama to allow people to keep the plans that are now being cancelled by insurance companies.
“If Pres Obama is truly sorry, very least he can do is #keepthepromise he made to allow Americans to keep health plans,” said a tweet from House Speaker John Boehner.
The chaotic rollout has cut off millions of people’s insurance policies, unnerved Democratic Senators facing the voters in November and helped to push his poll-ratings down to 39 percent.