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White House Confident About Health Care Outcome

Deputy White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest (file photo)
Deputy White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest (file photo)

The White House has expressed confidence that the U.S. Supreme Court will uphold President Barack Obama's landmark health care reform law as constitutional.

After the Supreme Court heard the final legal argument on the health care law, a White House news briefing was dominated by questions about whether President Obama is worried that a key provision, or the entire law, could be in jeopardy.

The White House issued a statement strongly defending Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, who argued before the court on Tuesday. Virrilli's performance was criticized as weak by some legal analysts and reporters.

Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest called Virrilli "skilled," saying the White House had "complete confidence" in his performance.  

Saying it would be foolish to predict an outcome, based on questions Supreme Court justices asked attorneys, he said the administration remains confident the law will be found constitutional.

"We remain confident that they are going to find the entire thing constitutional, so we are focused on doing controlling what we can control, which is implementing the Affordable Care Act in a way that promptly and efficiently maximizes the benefit for the American people," Earnest said.

Earnest said the White House has no contingency planning underway in case the law is struck down.  But he said President Obama is fully prepared for a "robust" debate on his record on health care versus Republicans and other critics of the law.

President Obama received a briefing on the Supreme Court arguments from White House staff. The court is expected to issue it ruling in June.

As the debate continues over health care, President Obama received some encouraging news from new public opinion polls.

A Quinnipiac University poll showed Obama leading main Republican rivals, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, in three major battleground states, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

A CNN poll showed Obama with a 54 to 43 percent advantage among registered voters over Romney if the presidential election were held now rather than in November, a five point gain since February.

Quinnipiac pollster Peter Brown says Obama’s political fortunes appear to be improving along with the domestic economy.

“There seems to be a sense in the country that the economy is getting better.   We see a larger percentage of voters telling us that the economy is in recovery than we have.   A smaller percentage say that the United States is in a recession than we have recorded previously.  So there is a little bit more economic optimism.   It’s not gigantic but it has made a difference,” Brown said.

The White House is making increasing use of Vice President Joe Biden to underscore arguments that Americans would be better off re-electing President Obama in November than a Republican.

Biden increasingly aims his remarks directly at Romney and Santorum.  He spoke Wednesday in Davenport, Iowa as he highlighted what he called the return of the U.S. manufacturing sector.

"One thing that could bring this [economic] momentum to a screeching halt is turning over the keys to the White House to a Santorum or a Romney," Biden said.

The chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, dismissed Biden's remarks, saying Americans are not impressed after "three years of failed policies."

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