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Health care anniversary: Not such a big 'bleeping' deal?

 

It's one big deal of an anniversary, but apparently President Obama will not be celebrating.

Friday marks the second anniversary of Obama signing his health care reform bill into law, which Vice President Joe Biden was famously caught calling a "big (bleeping) deal" at the ceremonial event that day.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Monday it's unclear what will be on the president's schedule this Friday, but he's looking beyond past battles.

"He is focused on a forward agenda right now, and working with Congress and doing the things he can through executive action to grow the economy and create jobs," Carney said.

Republican leaders, who accused the president in 2009 and 2010 of focusing too much on health care and not enough on jobs, now say the White House is pivoting away from the health care law because of uncertainty over whether or not its individual mandate is constitutional. Oral arguments in the Supreme Court case begin next week.

"I think we'll win in the end," Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a fierce critic of the new law, told Fox News. "Now the question is how long is it until the end. There's no question that the president's plan will not work."

The public seems to agree by a wide margin, with a recent Fox News poll finding that 59 percent of respondents felt the Supreme Court should repeal either the entire bill or parts of it. A new ABC News/Washington Post poll is even worse for the president, with a total of 67 percent saying the mandate or the whole law should be thrown out.

That seems to run counter to what White House aides have been saying for two years, which is that they believe the more the public learns about the law the more they will like it.

Asked about the poll numbers, Carney insisted that the poor numbers are due to Republican attacks, a sign the White House believes the problem is the message not the substance of the law.

"The polling data suggests in part the hundreds of millions of dollars that was spent attacking it," Carney told reporters. "And what we're focused on is implementing it so that Americans -- more and more Americans see the benefits that it brings."

While the president may not speak out on the anniversary, he does mention health care reform as an asset out on the campaign trail, including at a fundraiser Friday where he also suggested the popular parts of the law will win out as the American people see the benefits.

"You want to call it ObamaCare, that's okay because I do care," Obama said to applause from Democratic campaign donors. "That's why we passed it. That is why we passed it -- because I care about folks who were going bankrupt because they were getting sick. And I care about children who have pre-existing conditions and their families couldn't get them any kind of insurance."

Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney continues to vow that if elected, he will repeal the Affordable Care Act on the first day of his presidency. "This President believes that federal bureaucrats can do a better job than you can deciding what should be in your insurance policy, and ultimately what kind of care you should receive," Romney said Sunday.

Given Romney's own experience in Massachusetts, however, some Republicans believe he may be a flawed messenger to take on the president on the issue of health care.

Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican attorney general of Virginia who brought one of the first lawsuits against the president's health care law, told C-SPAN on Sunday that nominating the author of "RomneyCare" will backfire.

"I mean you are effectively giving that issue up if you select Romney as the nominee," said Cuccinelli, who has not endorsed anyone in the GOP battle. "And we may be doing that, we end up doing that."