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White House lays out legal rationale for Obamacare mandate waiver

White House press secretary Jay Carney speaks at the daily press briefing at the White House, where he answered questions about President Obama's health care law. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

President Obama's spokesman articulated the legal basis for waiving the individual mandate penalty as reporters pressed him to say if the website problems could lead to delay of the penalty.

"As written, the law makes clear that people who do not have access to affordable care — due to a state not expanding medicaid, or other factors — will not" have to pay the individual mandate penalty, White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters during the Monday briefing.

"The individual responsibility provision is there for those individuals who, even though they have access to affordable insurance, do not purchase it," he said.

When CBS's Major Garrett asked if he should conclude that the president is looking into delaying the mandate, Carney said he could draw any conclusion he wants, but the Obamacare team is focused on fixing the website.

"We're three weeks into a six-month enrollment period," Carney said. "If you enrolled last week or you enroll next week, your insurance does not kick in until Jan. 1, and ample prior experience shows that in programs like these, most people don't enroll until the very end."