President Barack Obama dismissed what he called the “antics” on Capitol Hill over the budget to keep up the sales pitch on his namesake health care law Thursday.
Slamming “irresponsible” congressional Republicans who have threatened to shut down the government or prevent a raise in the debt ceiling if the Affordable Care Act is not defunded, a defiant Obama said the health law won’t be derailed.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP
President Barack Obama waves to people in the crowd before speaking about the Affordable Care Act, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013, at Prince George's Community College in Largo, Md.
“That’s not going to happen as long as I am president,” he said during an appearance at a community college just outside Washington D.C.’s Beltway. “The Affordable Care Act is here to stay.”
Ridiculing Republicans at length and quoting some lawmakers' dire warnings about the consequences of the law, Obama said he will not be "blackmailed" with threats of default.
"I won’t negotiate on anything when it comes to the full faith and credit of the United States of America," he said.
Without naming him, Obama quoted New Hampshire state lawmaker Bill O'Brien, who called Obamacare "a law as destructive to personal and individual liberty as the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850."
"All this would be funny if it wasn't so crazy," he added.
The speech was the latest in the White House’s push to publicize the new law before open enrollment begins next week.
“Of course, the closer we've gotten to this date, the more irresponsible folks who are opposed to this law have become,” Obama said.
Proponents of the new law hope to convince consumers that the state-based “exchanges” will keep insurance costs low because of competition between plans. Critics say that premiums will ultimately be higher for average Americans and that insurance companies will eliminate existing plans that consumers want to keep.
Shortly before Obama took the stage, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Americans see through Obama’s “happy talk” about the law.
“Unfortunately, keeping the plan you have and like will not be an option for many Americans,” McConnell said.
Obama acknowledged Thursday that the rollout may not be completely smooth for every American and said Republicans are poised to publicize any "glitches" in the early implementation stage.
As Obama spoke, news outlets reported that one part of the law -- online enrollment for federal small business exchanges -- would be delayed.
"Unbelievable," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. "Did anyone tell the president that his administration is delaying another piece of Obamacare before he tried swindling the American people again?"
Open enrollment for the exchanges begins October 1 and runs through March of next year.
Obama encouraged Americans to investigate the new plans online.
"Make up your own mind," he said. "I promise you if you go on the website and it turns out you're going to save a hundred, two hundred, three hundred dollars a month on your insurance - or you'll be able to buy insurance for the first time - even if you didn't vote for me, I'll bet you'll sign up for that health care plan."
First published September 26 2013, 8:24 AM