Obama dares Republicans to seek healthcare repeal

Obama dared Republicans to try to repeal his newly signed healthcare reform but warned that their effort would backfire as he touted the measure's benefits.

Obama dares Republicans to seek healthcare repeal

President Barack Obama dared Republicans on Thursday to try to repeal his newly signed healthcare reform but warned that their effort would backfire as he touted the measure's benefits.

"If they want to have that fight, I welcome that fight," Obama said in prepared remarks for delivery in Iowa in his first big speech since enacting the most sweeping new U.S. social policy in decades.

"I don't believe the American people are going to put the insurance industry back in the driver's seat. We've been there already and we're not going back," he said.

Taking his public relations blitz on the road as he seeks to overcome public doubts, Obama visited the University of Iowa Field House in Iowa City.

In the face of opinion polls showing the American public divided about the healthcare law, Obama and his fellow Democrats are mounting an aggressive effort to gain political credit for passage of the overhaul, and to put Republicans on the defensive.

Obama first announced his healthcare plan in Iowa City in May 2007, launching a campaign that aides say led to the measure passed by the House of Representatives and signed into law this week.

Republicans, who unanimously opposed the bill, have vowed to make repealing it a major issue in mid-term congressional elections in November.

"Well, I say go for it," Obama said, goading his critics. "If these congressmen in Washington want to come here to Iowa and tell small business owners that they plan to take away their tax credits and essentially raise their taxes, be my guest."

Designed to revamp the $2.5 trillion U.S. healthcare industry, which accounts for one-sixth of the country's economy, the law will extend health insurance to 32 million Americans who lack it. It will bar practices like insurers' refusing coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions, expand the Medicaid government health insurance program for the poor and impose new taxes on the wealthy.

Accusing his critics of "fear-mongering" on the healthcare measure, Obama highlighted a provision for tax breaks that will help Americans buy coverage.

"This is the reform that some folks in Washington are still hollering about," Obama said. "And now that it's passed, they're already promising to repeal it. They're actually going to run on a platform of repeal in November."

Republicans are seeking to reduce or reverse Democrats' big majorities in both houses of Congress in the November elections.

The Senate planned to vote on Thursday on a package of final changes to the healthcare bill that must be approved again by the House after the Senate parliamentarian eliminated two minor provisions.

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One en route to the Iowa event, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs brushed aside complaints from two big manufacters, Deere & Co and Caterpillar Inc, that healthcare reform would cost them hundreds of millions of dollars.

Gibbs said the healthcare law closed an accounting loophole. "So basically, they get a subsidy and what amounts to two deductions. They get the subsidy that's not counted as income, then they get to write off the spending. This bill, our bill, simply closes the loophole that allows them to deduct that money one time by not counting it as income."

Officials from 14 states, all but one of them Republicans, have filed suit in federal court claiming that the healthcare law violates the U.S. Constitution.

The White House says the suits are without merit.

Support for the healthcare law seems to be growing, according to a poll released by Quinnipiac University on Thursday. Before the House of Representatives passed the bill, 54 percent of Americans surveyed disapproved of it, while 36 percent supported it, the poll found. After the vote, the disapproval rating dropped to 49 percent versus 40 percent.

Several groups that back Obama are waging a $5 million television and radio advertising campaign in about 35 congressional districts to thank lawmakers who voted for the bill and target Republicans who opposed it.

The goal is to provide political cover to Democrats facing opposition in their home districts and slam Republicans in swing districts who opposed the new law.

Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 25 Mart 2010, 21:03
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