Congressional Democrats, including Rep. James Clyburn, on Sunday sought to cautiously defend President Obama over his reneged promise that the Affordable Care Act would allow Americans to keep their existing health insurance plans.
Clyburn, one of the top House Democrats from South Carolina, sought to suggest that a culture of sound bites was responsible for not explaining Obama's promise. "And this is a sound bite that the President probably needed to take some more time to explain to the American people," he said on CNN's "State of the Union with Candy Crowley" on Sunday.
The House assistant Democratic leader added the president should have explained he was only pointing to plans that existed before the Affordable Care Act became law in 2010 and hadn't changed since.
"One of the things in Washington that I dislike more than anything else is when people say to me, 'If you're explaining it, you're losing it.' I don't like that at all. I really believe the American people are deserving of explanations," he said.
Clyburn said this two days after 39 House Democrats defected and voted for a Republican bill that would give health insurers the option of extending plans through 2014 irrespective of their compliance with standards set by Affordable Care Act.
"I am frustrated and angered by the continuing problems with the healthcare website and I know Southern Arizonans are frustrated and angry, too," Reuters quoted Democrat Rep. Ron Barber from Arizona as saying on Friday. "Today I voted to give people the option to keep their current plan until these and other issues are resolved. That's only fair."
The president had repeatedly promised that anyone who wanted to keep their existing health plan under Obamacare could do so.
"But cancellation notices are now arriving in millions of mailboxes across the country," GOP Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, who introduced the Republican bill, said Friday.
However, Clyburn on Sunday expressed confidence that Obama could fix it. The president sought to assure Americans last Thursday that administrative steps would be taken to address grievances related to the cancellations.
"Paradise lost, paradise regained. When you lose something you can find it again," Clyburn told CNN. "The President admitted that he expects to be held responsible for regaining the Americans' trust, and I think he will."
Clyburn also said many of the House Democrats voted in support of the Republican bill Friday to "insulate themselves against sound bites."
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, also said on ABC's "This Week" that the president can regain the public's trust. "Of course he can," she said, but adding, "He should have just been more specific."
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California and one of Obama's most ardent Capitol Hill supporters, defended Obama more strongly. "Democrats stand tall in support of the Affordable Care Act," she said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
However, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a Republican from New Hampshire, said on the same show that Obamacare has many problems. "No matter how Speaker Pelosi tries to spin this, [Obamacare] is a mess," she said.