President Obama seized on the veneer of good news about Obamacare to tear into his critics, issuing one of the most partisan speeches of his presidency and accusing opponents of lying about the law to scare the public because they’re opposed to people having health insurance.
Obama returned over and over to the law’s critics, aggressively asserting the window on repeal of the law has closed because many of its subsidies have kicked in and will be politically difficult to dislodge.
“Why are folks working so hard for people not to have health insurance?” Obama asked. “Why are they so mad about the idea of folks having health insurance?”
Governors have declined Obamacare expansions for “political reasons,” Obama said, warning that “we’re going to work on them.”
The speech began with self-congratulations about Obama administration figures showing seven million individuals have signed up for Obamacare. “7.1 million Americans have now signed up for private insurance plans through these market places. 7.1! Yep,” Obama said.
The president then read from letters from three people he had received describing benefits they were receiving under the law, including a family with a preexisting condition that drove their health care costs up and a woman bartender who had previously gone without insurance.
“The debate over repealing this law is over. The Affordable Care Act is here to stay,” Obama said, adding that benefits like the ones described in the letter would be all but impossible to revoke.
“Those who have based their entire political agenda on repealing it” will have to explain ending the benefits, Obama said.
Obama even said “history” is on the side of Obamacare.
“In the end history is not kind to those who would deny Americans their basic economic security,” he said, adding, “Nobody remembers well those who stand in the way of Americans’ progress.”
Obama referred several times to difficulties in implementing the law and said to expect more. Addressing reporters in the crowd, he said the HealthCare.gov website is likely to go down again, but when it does, “it won’t be news.”
Towards the end of the speech Obama offered deep gratitude to former House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and current Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin for helping enact the law.