Days before the Affordable Cart Act will be start being implemented for individuals and small businesses President Barack Obama has taken to the road to again to sell the unpopular law to Americans while Congressional Republicans staunchly oppose the law, and are pushing for its delay. On Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013 Obama spoke to students at Prince George's Community College in Largo, Maryland selling his Obamacare, health care reform to what was a friendly demographic and crowd. The law is set to commence its implementation on October 1, 2013.
Congressional Republicans have fiercely opposed the law from its inception and the Republican controlled House of Representatives intends to tie a year delay for the law in either the continuing resolution spending bill or to raise the debt ceiling limit. On the line is government funding for the new fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1 and the debt ceiling will reach its limit on Oct. 17, without passing the two bills for a budget and to raise the debt ceiling limit, the government will shutdown and then default on its loans.
Obama called the House GOP's proposals akin to trying to "blackmail a president." Saying that this wasunprecedented; "No Congress before this one has ever - ever -- in history been irresponsible enough to threaten default, to threaten an economic shutdown, to suggest America not pay its bills."
On Friday, Sept. 20 the House voted for a spending bill that also defunded Obamacare, while in the Senate on Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 24 to noon on Wednesday, Ted Cruz staged a 21-hour speech in the Senate arguing against Obama's health care law.
The President speaking to a friendly audience was relaxed, and informal in his remarks. He spent the majority of his speech giving the history, explaining the benefits, and selling his health care law, urging Americans to sign up for the insurance. As always the President peppered in attacks on the Republicans who oppose the law, and included a lot of mocking jabs and jokes, hoping to gain the support he needs from young adults for his healthcare law.
President Obama believes that the Republicans oppose the law so much because they are afraid it will be successful and a political hindrance. Obama taunted; "The Republican party has just spun itself up around this issue. The fact is, the Republicans' biggest fear at this point is not that Affordable Care Act will fail. What they're worried about is it's going to succeed."
The President reiterated many of his attacks and rhetoric on the House GOP that he stated last week in multiple addresses on the economy; "This is the United States of America. We're not a deadbeat nation. We don't run out on our tab." Obama reemphasized that he will not negotiate the spending bill or the debt ceiling with the House Republicans, stating; "We're not going to submit to this type of total irresponsibility. I will not negotiate on anything when it comes to the full faith and credit of the United States of America."
Continuing the same themes as the week before, Obama was not willing to alienate all Republicans, shifting the blamed entirely on the Tea Party; "All this would be funny if it wasn't so crazy. A lot of it is just hot air, a lot of it is just politics, I understand that. 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."
President Obama countered the Republicans saying no matter what they do, the health care law is part of the American reality, saying; "Some have threatened a government shutdown if they can't shut down this law. Others have actually threatened an economic shutdown by refusing to pay America's bills if they can't delay the law. That's not going to happen as long as I'm President. The Affordable Care Act is here to stay."
The President needs to drum up support and encourage the public to sign up for the new health care insurance for it to be successful. There are early signs that there will not be that much enthusiasm for it as Obama would have hoped there would be. As a result he has already delayed the online application for small businesses, the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) to Nov. 1.
Obama said that aspects of the law that have already been implemented are benefitting Americans whether they realize it or not. The President recounted; "So tens of millions of Americans are already better off because of the benefits and protections provided by the Affordable Care Act. Like I said, they may not know why that rebate check came in the mail. They may not notice that they're not having to copay for some preventive care that they received. But they're getting those benefits. That's already happening. That's already in place today. It's been going on for several years."
President Obama admitted there will be some small problems as the law is implemented, stating; "It's the law. And like I said, there are going to be some glitches along the way. Every law has hiccups when it's first starting off." Concluding, Obama believes that in the end Americans will be happy with the coverage, and joked; "Once it's working really well, I guarantee you they will not call it 'Obamacare,' A few years from now, when people are using this to get coverage and everybody's feeling pretty good about all the choices and competition that they've got, there are going to be a whole bunch of folks who say, yeah, yeah, no, I always thought this provision was excellent. I voted for that thing. You watch."
Earlier in the week, on Tuesday, Sept. 24 Obama spoke with Former President Bill Clinton about the healthcare law at the Clinton Global Initiative Health Care Forum in New York City, hours after addressing the United Nations General Assembly. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton introduced the two presidents who then conducted a question and answer session, with Clinton asking Obama the questions.
The forum was entirely meant to sell the law as it begins the implementation process and get those uninsured to sign up. President Obama gave the history of the law and explained how it functions and its benefits. Obama clarified the purpose of selling the law; "So it is very important that people just know what's out there, what's available to them, and let people make up their own minds as to whether it makes sense or not."
Obama responded to one question and concluded; "What we now have set up are these marketplaces that provide high-quality health care at affordable prices, giving people choices so that they can get the health insurance that they need and they want, and the premiums are significantly lower than what they were able to previously get."
President Obama is going to need a lot of help to make his health law successful. A recent New York Times/CBS News poll indicated the law has only 39 percent support, with 38 percent of Americans supporting the Republican House efforts to defund, delay or repeal the law. With almost an equal percentage supporting and opposing the law and Republicans in Congress intent on stopping it, Obama will need the support of undecided Americans. The odds make it a difficult sell, with the President facing an uphill battle that is probably not as over as he would hope.
President Barack Obama's Remarks on the Affordable Care Act, Sept. 26, 2013
Bonnie K. Goodman is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies, both from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program. Her specializations are US, Canadian & Israeli politics.