Obama jokes about healthcare policy with Washington reporters

Sunday 04 May 2014 20.06
Barack Obama joked, saying: 'Of course we rolled out HealthCare.gov. That could have gone better'
Barack Obama joked, saying: 'Of course we rolled out HealthCare.gov. That could have gone better'

US President Barack Obama poked fun at himself and what he called a hard year when the political and media elites gathered at the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner.

"In 2008 my slogan was, 'Yes we can.' In 2013, it was control-alt-delete," Mr Obama joked to an audience also studded with film and television stars.

"At one point, things got so bad the 47% called Mitt Romney to apologise," he said.

That referred to a 2012 presidential campaign scandal in which the Republican candidate was secretly taped saying that 47% of Americans have become reliant on government handouts.

More than 2,000 guests attended the event, which is used by presidents to laugh at themselves and ridicule their opponents.

The president highlighted some of the low points of his administration's last year, dwelling on the disastrous rollout of the website for his landmark health insurance reform legislation.

"Of course we rolled out HealthCare.gov. That could have gone better," he said.

Later he turned on Republican opponents in Congress who are clamouring to repeal the legislation despite higher than expected enrolment figures in the government health care exchanges.

"How well does Obamacare have to work before you stop trying to repeal it?"

At the end of his speech, Mr Obama turned the audience's attention to a video monitor, which failed to work.

Kathleen Sebelius, the health secretary who announced her resignation this month after overseeing the botched rollout of Obamacare, stepped up to the podium to try to fix the technical glitch.

Mr Obama also took a swipe at Republicans for blocking his bid to raise the minimum wage.

"If you want to get paid for not working you should run for Congress just like everyone else," he said.

In a self-deprecating crack at his own low popularity ratings, the president referred to his fellow Democrats not wanting to campaign with him for November congressional elections in a joke involving one of his daughters.

"I did notice the other day that Sasha needed a speaker for career day and she invited Bill Clinton."

Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus was there with her cast from a hit HBO comedy parodying a dysfunctional vice president's office.

A video played earlier in the evening showed Ms Louis-Dreyfus in character asking a real-life Joe Biden: "Are you going to the Snorespondents' dinner tonight?"

The video skit included health-conscious First Lady Michelle Obama sneaking some ice cream in the White House kitchen, House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi getting a tattoo and House Speaker John Boehner skipping the dinner to watch a panda video in his office.