White House: No "victory lap" after surpassing Obamacare sign up goal

The news that 7.1 million people had signed up for health insurance through the federal exchanges was a "celebratory moment" for the White House, but not a reason to get complacent, White House senior advisor Dan Pfeiffer said on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday.

"We all felt pretty good when we hit the mark that no one thought we were gonna hit. But it's not a victory lap. And the president has told us to keep our eye on the ball every day to make sure this law is implemented as well as possible," Pfeiffer said. "We have a lot more work to do here."

Pfeiffer said that 200,000 more people had finished signing up this week, a product of the administration's move to grant extra time to people who weren't able to finish before the March 31 deadline.

He still didn't have any information on the demographic mix of Obamacare enrollees, and in particular the number of young people who signed up for the law, which will determine its success. But, Pfeiffer said, the data through February "is perfectly in line with what the insurance companies say they need to have a good mix."

Pfeiffer also predicted more young and healthy people would have signed up near the end of the process, as happened when Massachusetts passed a similar statewide law.

In the face of continued Republican opposition to the law, the White House seems prepared to push back against efforts to significantly change or repeal it. And Pfeiffer was confident that the law won't cause Democrats to lose control of the Senate in fall.

"I do think that the Republican argument for repeal is a political loser," Pfeiffer said. "What they're arguing now is that the seven million people who signed up through the exchanges and the millions more who got it from Medicaid and other ways, they're going to take health care away from all of those people."

He warned that even for the 85 percent of Americans who had insurance before the law passed, a repeal would "take away their protections" that passed in the Affordable Care Act.

"We'll go back to the days where women paid more than men for the same health care, seniors paid more for prescription drugs, and insurance companies had all the power. That's not a good argument to make," he said.

Pfeiffer also weighed in on the recent Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission which struck down federal limits on overall campaign contributions that individual donors may make to candidates, political parties and political action committees.

"This is a real challenge. And the decision in the McCutcheon case, just like the one in Citizen's United a few years ago are devastating to the public campaign system," he said. "The problem we have is that the Supreme Court has struck down duly passed laws."

He said that a constitutional amendment may be the only way to restore limits to campaign donations, which the president has previously said should be considered. In the short term, however, Pfeiffer said that candidates will have to get a lot of citizens engaged with smaller donations, like the president did in 2008 and 2012.

And on the recent Samsung stunt to have Red Sox player David Ortiz take a selfie with President Obama, Pfeiffer said the White House has had conversations with the communications company "and expressed our concerns."

Pfeiffer declined to give any details on the conversation. But, he quipped, "maybe this will be the end of all selfies."

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.