Obama accuses GOP of ‘blackmail’ over Obamacare
By: Jonathan Allen
September 26, 2013 12:00 PM EDT
President Barack Obama accused Republicans of trying to “blackmail a president” by threatening to shut down the government or default on the nation’s debt if he doesn’t agree to block implementation of Obamacare.
“We’re not going to submit to this type of total irresponsibility,” Obama said in remarks at a community college just outside Washington. “I will not negotiate on anything when it comes to the full faith and credit of the United States of America.”
He later added: “All this would be funny if it wasn’t so crazy. The tea party Republicans have taken it to a whole new level because they’re threatening to shut down the government or shut down the entire economy … unless I agree to gut a law that will help millions of people.”
But there was more bad news for Obamacare trickling out even as Obama wrapped up his remarks: POLITICO Pro reported that the administration will delay online enrollment in some of the small business exchanges that are due to open on Oct. 1. Small businesses will still be able to submit a paper application starting next Tuesday – they just won’t be able to enroll online.
Obama opened with partisan riffs on “fear-mongering” and “the antics going on in Congress,” and he spent long minutes berating his Republican critics. But for the most part, he focused on an in-the-weeds discourse of how consumers can enroll, starting Oct. 1, in new health care exchanges that will begin providing benefits in January.
“Visit healthcare.gov,” Obama urged the audience at Prince George’s Community College. “It’s a website where you can compare and purchase affordable health insurance plans, side by side, the same way you shop for a plane ticket on Kayak, the same way you shop for a TV on Amazon. You just go on and you start looking. And here are all the options.”
For Obama, the key to solidifying his law is to make sure that people sign up for insurance. He rattled off numbers and measures of the costs and benefits of Obamacare, including those that have already gone into effect.
“Tens of millions of Americans are already better off because of the benefits and protections provided by the Affordable Care Act,” he said. “They may not know why that rebate check came in the mail. They may not notice that they’re not having to co-pay some preventive care they received.”
Since the law was enacted, he said, “we have seen the slowest growth in health care on record.”
Obama also sought to keep the bar of expectations for the rollout of the exchanges low.
“There are going to be some glitches as things unfold,” he said, arguing that the early days “should be smoother” in states where governors work to “implement it, rather than fight it.”
The president went back to take more partisan shots at Republicans — the closer the opening of the six-month registration period has drawn, he said, “the more irresponsible folks who are opposed to this law have become.”
“Some of the same Republicans who warned three years ago that this law would be Armageddon,” Obama said, “now they’re threatening steps that would actually badly hurt our entire economy.”
The latest stratagem from the House GOP: They want to attach a one-year delay in Obamacare provisions and a raft of other pet provisions to an increase in the debt ceiling. Without the debt-limit hike, the nation will default on its debt, and Obama has said that he won’t negotiate on either the hike or Obamacare.
GOP efforts to undo the health law are “not going to happen as long as I’m president,” Obama said.