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White House dismisses senator’s allegation that administration ‘cooked the books’ on Obamacare

  • McClatchy Washington Bureau
  • Published Monday, March 31, 2014, at 4:24 p.m.
  • Updated Monday, March 31, 2014, at 4:57 p.m.

— The White House on Monday dismissed a Republian senator’s accusation that the Obama administration was “cooking the books” by inflating the number of Americans who’ve enrolled for health care under the Affordable Care Act.

Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said on Fox News Sunday that he didn’t believe the enrollment numbers released by the administration.

"I think they're cooking the books on this," said Barrasso, an orthopedic surgeon.

At a briefing with reporters on Monday, White House spokesman Jay Carney dismissed Barasso’s allegation, along with the comments of other critics of the law. He said they are searching for reasons to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

“I was just struck by the Republican Senator today, who confronted with numbers that I am sure said he would never come to pass, just decided they weren't real,” Carney said. “If we were cooking the books, do you think we would have cooked them in October and November? We could have saved ourselves a lot of pain.”

Carney compared Barrasso’s claim of bogus enrollment numbers with the Romney campaign’s insistence that late 2012 polling numbers “couldn't possibly be real.”

“But I'll tell you, they're real and people are signing up,” he said.

“We are achieving something today that I know has our critics gnashing their teeth,” Carney said. “... Far better, I think, would be for them to acknowledge that the law is here to stay.”

Carney couldn’t say whether enrollment figures were likely to close in on 7 million by the close of business on March 31, the deadline for individuals to sign up for health care.

“I would not be the one to make a guess, except to say that it will be significantly above 6 million,” he said. “And while I think some of the reporting has made it sound like 6 million is somehow falling short, I think that if anybody in this room -- if I had stood up to you in November, and told you that we would be above 6 million on March 31st you would have laughed me out of the room, and probably had to do so. We were in a bad place in October and November.”

Email: lwise@mcclatchydc.com; Twitter: @lindsaywise.

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