By Jason Millman - 01/28/11 05:08 PM EST
In his most vigorous defense of the healthcare law since Republicans took control of the House, Obama fired back Friday at GOP claims that the law deprives essential care for seniors and balloons the deficit.
“You may have heard once or twice this is a job-crushing, granny-threatening, budget-busting monstrosity,” Obama said to pro-reform advocates at the Families USA annual conference in Washington. “That just doesn’t match up to the reality.”
The president was firm Friday and used the home-field advantage of a pro-healthcare reform crowd to bolster his defense of the law, which House Republicans voted to repeal only a week ago.
Obama fought back against GOP claims that the bill won’t reduce healthcare costs and would hurt the nation’s seniors while expanding the deficit.
With House Republicans using committee hearings this week to pose the reform law as bad for business, Obama touched on a report from a large business advocacy group that said the law would reduce premiums for workers.
“That’s money that business can use to grow to invest or hire. … That’s money workers won’t have to see vanish from paychecks or bonuses. That’s good for all of us,” he said.
“And I can report that granny is safe,” he added, hitting back at GOP claims that the administration wants to ration expensive care for the elderly.
Obama also rebuked Republican claims that the nonpartisan congressional scorekeeper used shaky math to determine that repealing the reform law would add $230 billion to the deficit over the next 10 years.
“They’re not just making this up,” he said about the Congressional Budget Office.
The speech gave Obama the opportunity to defend the reform law after barely touching on it during the State of the Union address earlier this week. During the Tuesday speech, he posed the reform as the new baseline for the nation’s healthcare policy and urged Republicans to focus on improving the law instead of revoking it.
“If you have ideas about how to improve this law by making care better or more affordable, I am eager to work with you,” Obama said Tuesday night.
“What I’m not willing to do is go back to the days when insurance companies could deny someone coverage because of a pre-existing condition,” he continued.
Obama touched on that theme Friday morning, again offering up repeal of an IRS reporting requirement as an indication of his willingness to improve the law. But he rejected the GOP’s efforts to “refight” the reform battle of the past two years.
“Anything can be improved,” he said. “As we work to implement it, there are going to be times when we say, ‘this needs a tweak’ and ‘this isn’t working exactly as we intended.’ ”
Over the past month, Democrats have been emphasizing the law’s numerous consumer protections that have already gone into effect, such as coverage for children regardless of pre-existing conditions and discounted drugs for seniors in Medicare’s coverage gap. Touting those protections, Obama made clear Friday morning that repeal was out of the question for him.
“I don’t want that for America, he said. “I don’t want that for our families. That’s not who we are, that’s not what we stand for.”