Treasury Secretary Jack Lew repeatedly dodged Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace’s questions about the glitch-ridden rollout of Obamacare, refusing to answer how many people had actually signed up on the online exchanges.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney also could or would not tell reporters that information this week:
CHRIS WALLACE: The public exchanges in Obamacare opened this week. I think it’s fair to say the government website was a mess. In fact, the page to sign up to enroll for Obamacare has been taken down for repairs during off peak hours this weekend. Question, sir. You have had three years to prepare for this week. If I already had doubts, if someone already had doubts about the government’s ability to oversee a sixth of the economy, shouldn’t this just add to my doubts?
JACK LEW: Chris, I actually think that is not what happened this week. What happened this week is we saw seven million people rush to go onto the web page to find out what are their choices in this new marketplace to buy affordable health care.
WALLACE: How many actually signed up, sir?
LEW: They have six months to sign up. This is a big decision.
WALLACE: How many signed up?
LEW: I don’t have the exact number.
WALLACE: Do you have any number, because the government has refused to tell us.
LEW: It’s the wrong question.
WALLACE: No, it isn’t. I may look and have no interest, and in fact I’m not going to need Obamacare. The question is how many people have actually signed up.
LEW: We know that people take time to make important decisions like this. They go on, they compare their options. The fact that so many millions of people rushed to get information is a very good sign. Your question about the website, I don’t know about you but I sign on and I get updates on my software and I often get corrections that I have to re-update my software. For major companies, it is not unique when you have a very large new software program come out that people work to clean it up. I usually wait until it’s .3 or .4 before I sign up. So many millions of people rushed to get in because that shows how much interest there is in getting health care.
WALLACE: I’m going to ask one last time because, forgive me sir, you haven’t answered it. Do you not know how many people have signed up, which would seem to indicate another major software glitch, or is it that the number is embarrassingly small?
LEW: Chris, our metric for this week was could people get online, get the information they need –
WALLACE: The answer is they couldn’t.
LEW: –to make an informed decision. They have been getting that information. We are confident they are going to make the decision, they have six months to make the decision.
WALLACE: So, do you not know, or is it that the number is small?
LEW: It’s obviously not my primary area of responsibility, so my knowing or not knowing is not going to be indicative. The important issue here is that millions of Americans want to get affordable health care. They came online, they’re getting the information, and they’re learning they can get affordable health care. They can save money, they can avoid having a situation where they have pre-existing conditions with no health care, where they have children with no health care. This is a very important development.
WALLACE: They just can’t sign up for it at this point.
LEW: I think they are going to be signing up.
WALLACE: Technically they can’t. Secretary Lew, thanks for coming in today.