President Obama stepped to the podium in the White House rose garden this morning to address both the government shutdown and the opening of the new Insurance Marketplace established as part of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
He minced no words about who shut the government down and why.
He indicated that it is one faction of one party in one branch of government that has decided to "demand ransom".
"They're shutting down the government over an ideological crusade to deny affordable health care to many Americans. They are demanding ransom just for doing their job,"
The President made it exceedingly clear that the Affordable Care Act "passed the House, passed the Senate, was declared constitutional by the Supreme Court, and it is the law." Gathered around him were people who were able to sign up for the insurance marketplace starting today, most of whom had no options for "affordable" insurance coverage prior to this new mechanism.
The President indicated that before 7:00 this morning, more than one million people had visited healthcare.gov to begin the sign up process, creating a bandwitdth problem, resulting in slower than usual access to the sites content. He indicated that everyone expects glitches, and that they will be fixed as they arise.
He joked that Apple had released a new operating system in the last week and that it had some glitches, so they released an update to fix them. He said that nobody asked for Apple to be shut down because of the glitches.
President Obama was also very quick to note that while the extreme right wing faction of the House Republicans have decided to put 800,000 people on furlough to make a statement about their opposition to the Affordable Care Act, the insurance marketplace is up and running, as the law does not receive its funding through the same appropriations process as the rest of the government does.
He also took a moment to address the upcoming debate over the debt ceiling, indicating that this is a routine piece of business that has been done 45 times since President Reagan was in office. He took a moment to explain that raising the debt ceiling does not authorize new spending, instead it ensures that the bills already committed to by Congress are paid. He compared it to someone buying a car, then not paying the bill. "you're not saving any money, you're just a deadbeat." he said.
Republicans are still attempting to sell this negotiating tactic as something the American people have asked for, and still attempting to indicate that the Affordable Care Act is actually hurting the economy, but fewer people are buying it as time passes. Anyone who is paying attention can see that the economy continues to grow, however slowly, despite the fact this law has been in effect in varying degrees for two years now.
There is still a lot of work to be done to solve the complicated issues of healthcare costs in this nation, but the importance cannot be overstated. It is not a coincidence that the President indicated 15% of Americans live without coverage right now, and statistics show that the same percentage live in poverty. If you live at 138% or less of the poverty level, you are able to be covered by Medicaid, in part due to the expansion of the program outlined in the Affordable Care Act. When you look at these numbers, it shows you the same group of people that are struggling to get by are also struggling to pay for basic medical care. It's the group working full time jobs that are paying somewhere between minimum wage and $15.00 per hour, the segment of the population that is growing the fastest, and the segment of the economy doing the most hiring.
So how do the members of the GOP House propose to address this? Add 800,000 more people to the list of underemployed and/or unemployed by shutting the government down to protest healthcare benefits for those who can't afford to get by as it is.
Stay tuned to see how long this nonsense carries on.