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White House denies ducking health care anniversary


White House press secretary deflected questions about President Obama’s relative low profile on the two year anniversary of his landmark health reform law.

Republicans were quick to note that Obama didn’t make any public statement in commemoration of the law, but the White House rejected the idea that it considers the law a political liability.

When asked by a reporter during the daily briefing whether the White House considered health care reform to be a “political liability,” Carney exclaimed, “No!”

He referred the reporter to a documentary-style video, posted by the president’s re-election campaign, which goes through a brief chronology of the legislation and features testimony from the president and Vice President Biden.

Carney also noted that the White House issued a report Friday detailing the aspects of the law that have already been implemented, peppered with testimony from individuals who say they’ve been helped by some of its provisions.

That report was accompanied by a written statement by the president: “Today, two years after we passed health care reform, more young adults have insurance, more seniors are saving money on their prescription drugs, and more Americans can rest easy knowing they won’t be dropped from their insurance plans if they get sick. The law has made a difference for millions of Americans, and over time, it will help give even more working and middle-class families the security they deserve.”

But while the president did appear publicly today, he did not make a live comment on the law, instead announcing the nomination of Dartmouth president Jim Yong Kim to be World Bank president, in addition to commenting on the Trayvon Martin shooting case.

Meanwhile, some of the Republicans seeking to unseat Obama said the absence of a public event commemorating the law’s signing proved the White House was seeking to distance itself from a politically unpopular policy. (A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll found that Americans oppose the law 52-41 percent overall, with 67 percent believing the law, or at least the individual mandate portion, should be repealed.)

Campaigning in West Monroe, Louisiana today, Rick Santorum said of the law’s birthday: “There's a reason he's not saying anything about it. It's a horribly unpopular bill, because it robs people of their economic freedom and forces them to do things that are against their own religious beliefs.”

And Mitt Romney, whose Massachusetts health care plan the Obama re-election campaign has characterized as the basis for the president’s plan, penned an op-ed in USA today called “Why I’d Repeal Obamacare.”

Speaking in Metairie, Louisiana at an event titled, “Repeal & Replace Obamacare,” Romney said that the president was not making public statements on the law “for a reason: Most Americans want to get rid of it and we’re among those Americans, I want to get rid of it too."

The Republican National Committee has also been staging a weeklong messaging campaign against the law, hanging a banner on their Washington D.C. headquarters that said, “Happy Birthday Obamacare!” And RNC spokesman Sean Spicer wrote in an email Friday that the president “doesn't want to defend” the law.

Carney today said the bill was not more popular because its benefits have been obfuscated by big-dollar ad campaigns against the legislation, and that the administration was more focused on implementing the law than it was countering attacks.

He lamented “the amount of money spent in the propaganda PR wars on this issue, 3-1 at least spent against the affordable care act and efforts to mischaracterize and mislead Americans about what it is.”

As First Read wrote earlier, a Kantar Media Campaign Media Analysis Group study found that supporters of the health care law had in fact been outspent 2-1 by opponents of the law, not 3-1 as Carney asserted.