President Obama discussed his troubled Affordable Care Act rollout, NSA revelations and the recently-released book about his 2012 re-election bid in an interview with NBC News on Thursday.
The president admitted that some Americans would lose their health insurance coverage as his Affordable Care Act gets underway and apologized to them, vowing to “work hard” to help them.
“I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me,” Obama told NBC News’ Chuck Todd.
“We worked hard to try to make sure that we implemented it properly,” Obama said. “But obviously, we didn’t do a good enough job and I regret that.”
“We’ve got to work hard to make sure that they know we hear them and we are going to do everything we can to deal with folks who find themselves in a tough position as a consequence of this,” he added.
The president had assured Americans that they would not lose their existing health plans under the Affordable Care Act, only for millions’ plans to be canceled because they did not meet the new law’s standards. Obama maintained those people would now have access to plans that were significantly better than what they had before.
Obama’s apology comes a week after Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told a congressional panel that she was “accountable” for Healthcare.gov’s significant enrollment issues.
“You deserve better,” she told the panel. “I apologize. I’m accountable to you for fixing these problems.”
Tony Trenkle, who oversaw the site’s development, resigned from his post as chief information officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Tuesday.
One thing Obama did not apologize for was recent revelations about the NSA’s extensive monitoring of electronic communications, telling Todd that he never checked where intelligence came from.
“When I am presented intelligence, particularly if it pertains to allies like Germany, I’m not poking and probing about where we get certain information,” Obama said.
German chancellor Angela Merkel was reportedly very upset to discover that her phone may have been tapped by the NSA.
Obama also disagreed with a recent book’s claim that his staff considered dropping Biden for Clinton in 2011, but decided against it when polls showed it wouldn’t change Obama’s re-election chances, saying Biden is both a friend and a great vice president.
“Folks like to seem important by getting their version of events in the press or books or what have you,” Obama said. “And, you know, that’s just kind of part of the atmosphere that you live in.”
“Here’s the one thing I can say for certain: that if they had asked me, I would have said there is no way that I’m not running again with Joe Biden,” Obama said. “Because I genuinely believe that he has been one of the best vice presidents in our history. He also happens to be a friend. He also happens to be one of my most important advisors on domestic foreign policy. I like him. When my back’s up against the wall, he has my back.”
Portions of Obama’s wide-ranging interview with Chuck Todd will be shown NBC’s “Nightly News With Brian Williams,” “Today” and MSNBC’s “Politics Nation” and “The Daily Rundown With Chuck Todd.”
Watch the video, via NBC: