“October 1st it rolls out,” Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly says of Obamacare’s web site.
“Right,” President Barack Obama replies.
“Immediately, there are problems with the computers,” O’Reilly continues.
“Right,” Obama says.
“When did you know there were going to be problems with those computers?” O’Reilly asked at the start of a pre-game interview with the president before the airing of the 48th Super Bowl.
“Well, I think we all anticipated there would be glitches, because any time you’ve got technology, a new program rolling out, there are going to be some glitches,” the president said. “I don’t think I anticipated or anybody anticipated the degree of the problems with the website … I don’t think anybody anticipated the degree of problems that you had on HealthCare.gov. The good news is that right away, we decided how are we going to fix it, it got fixed within a month and a half, it was up and running and now it’s working the way it’s supposed to and we’ve signed up three million people.”
The next question: “Why didn’t you fire Sebelius, the secretary in charge of this?”
“You know, my main priority right now is making sure that it delivers for the American people,” Obama said, talking over O’Reilly’s attempt to follow up on that question about Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “What we’ve ended up doing is we’ve got three million people signed up so far. We’re about a month behind of where we anticipated we wanted to be. We’ve got over six million people who have signed up for Medicaid.”
“I’m sure that the intent is noble, but I’m a taxpayer,” said the top-rated host of the top-rated cable news network. “And I’m paying Kathleen Sebelius’ salary and she screwed up.”
“Yes,” Obama said.
“And you’re not holding her accountable,” O’Reilly pressed.
“Yes, well, I — I promise you that we hold everybody up and down the line accountable,” the president said. “When we’re in midstream, Bill, we want to make sure that our main focus is how do we make this thing work so that people are able to sign up? And that’s what we’ve done.”
O’Reilly, on a relentless offense in this pre-game presidential interview before a game that would produce the first first-half shutout in 15 years, turned to his next question — was that promise that people would keep their own insurance under the new health-care law “the biggest mistake of your precedence?”
“Oh, Bill, you’ve got a long list of my mistakes of my presidency,” Obama said.
“This is one that I regret and I’ve said I regretted, in part because we put in a grandfather clause in the original law saying that, in fact, you were supposed to be able to keep it,” Obama said. .“It obviously didn’t cover everybody that we needed to and that’s why we changed it, so that we further grandfathered in folks and many people who thought originally, when they got that cancellation notice, they couldn’t keep it .”
“I’ve been in the presidency for five years. And I think part of the reason is, I try to focus not on the fumbles, but on the next plan.”
O’Reilly moved on to the fatal attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.
“We revealed to the American people exactly what we understood at the time,” Obama said. “The notion that we would hide the ball for political purposes when, a week later, we all said, in fact, there was a terrorist attack taking place the day after, I said it was an act of terror, that wouldn’t be a very good cover-up.”
Next up, the Internal Revenue Service’s screening of organizations aligned with the Tea Party.
“Absolutely wrong,” Obama said. “Folks have, again, had multiple hearings on this. I mean these kinds of things keep on surfacing, in part because you and your TV station will promote them.”
The interview inevitably turned to the Super Bowl and ended cordially enough.
“I enjoyed it,” Obama said.