President Obama said in a radio interview airing Tuesday that civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. would approve of his signature health care reform law.
"Oh, he would like that," Obama told radio hosts Tom Joyner and Sybil Wilkes in an interview from the White House. "Well, because I think he understood that health care, health security is not a privilege; it’s something that in a country as wealthy as ours, everybody should have access to."
The comments came amid a broader push by the administration to tie implementation of the Affordable Care Act to the weeklong celebration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, which has drawn civil rights leaders and activists from across the country to Washington.
"The key is going to be just signing folks up," Obama said Tuesday in the radio interview.
He warned that young adults who were uninsured and had an accident or got sick could see their life savings wiped out without medical insurance.
"You might not be able to pay rent. And for, again, a cost that is less than your cellphone bill, you can go on what we’re calling these marketplaces … and you can take a look and you can find out, 'All right, here’s a good price for me, and here’s the coverage that I get,'" Obama said. "And in a simple form, you can sign up. And if you still can’t afford it, you may qualify for the government giving you help to get that health insurance."
Obama was not the only top administration official to tie the health care implementation to King this week. On Monday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius invoked King's line about "the fierce urgency of now" to argue on behalf of the Affordable Care Act.
"For every one of our neighbors who lives day-after-day in fear because they do not have insurance, there is an urgency of now," Sebelius wrote on the White House blog.
In the radio interview, Obama went on to say that he hoped passing the health care law would be "one of many" accomplishments that defined his legacy.
Pressed on what else he wanted to achieve in his last three and a half years in office, Obama said that he wanted to make sure that every child in the U.S. had access to "high quality" early childhood education.
"If we can get more young people, more children into the programs that prepare them so that the day they start kindergarten, the day they start first grade, they’re already prepared," Obama said. "That carries over for years."