No, this isn’t a quote from Twitter or talk radio, but from ABC’s White House correspondent Jonathan Karl at yesterday’s press briefing. Karl asked Jay Carney about the PR campaign from the Obama administration that’s attempting to sell ObamaCare to younger Americans as something hip and cool, rather than expensive and a raid on their pocketbook. Greg Hengler captures the moment, and Carney’s surprisingly composed response:
This question comes after an initial attempt by Karl to pin down Carney on the topic of demographics in the ObamaCare “enrollments” (which may or may not actually have effectively enrolled anyone yet), which the administration has yet to specify. :
Q Do you have any update at all for how successful the effort to sign people — get people to enroll on healthcare.gov has been on getting young people? What’s the status on that?
MR. CARNEY: I don’t have any data specifically broken down by age. I would refer you to CMS. I’m not sure what they have. There’s no question that overall, between now and March 31st, there needs to be a good mix of individuals who enroll in the marketplaces. As I think we’ve talked about in general, it is common, as we’ve seen from past experience, for enrollment of any kind in these kinds of programs, including the private health insurance that most of you enroll in and have open enrollment periods for, to happen disproportionately towards the end and that young people are even more inclined to wait until the last minute to get their paperwork done or their online applications done. So having stated those facts, I don’t have any specific information with regards to the age breakdown so far.
Q CMS won’t give that information out either. I mean, do you not have it? You must have it.
MR. CARNEY: I don’t have it, so I would refer you to CMS. I don’t have that data.
Q And what efforts is the administration making to get young people to sign?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I think you’ve seen a broad-based effort to focus on the opportunities and options available to millions of Americans across the country, including young people.
I think that if you saw in the Wall Street Journal yesterday, there was an article — we’ve often gotten questions about or statements from commentators about the fact that it would be proof that enrollment is working and the website is functioning for the vast majority of users when you saw outside groups, third-party groups, including insurance companies, invest in advertising to reach potential consumers. And I think there was an important article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday about a number of insurance companies that are investing substantial sums to do just that. And I think that would indicate that they believe the opportunity to reach those potential consumers exists, and that those consumers will be able to enroll in their plans if they so choose.
So it’s going to be — it’s a broad-based effort and it continues not just now but through March.
Mary Katharine covered this part of the question in more detail yesterday. It led to Karl’s follow-up:
Q What do you make of some of these efforts by Obamacare supporters to reach out? I mean, some of them — the upside-down keg stands and whatnot. I mean, is anybody going to buy health care because “Barack Obreezy” tells them to buy it because it’s hot?
Well, that has to beat Pajama Boy as a spokesperson, doesn’t it? On the more serious side, Carney does a good job of not taking the bait and tangling with Karl over his remarkably snarky framing of the question. It does demonstrate, though, that the White House press corps is running out of patience with Carney and the administration on its failure to produce real answers to substantive questions. That pressure is likely to continue, especially as Obama’s falling approval numbers make him anything but cool these days.