Obama shrugs off healthcare law criticism

Obama took on Republicans, pundits and the media during a speech promoting the law in Portland, Maine.

Obama said pundits and reporters should allow more time to pass before judging the new law’s popularity.

"Can you imagine if some of these reporters were working on a farm? You planted some seeds and they came out the next day...  'Nothing's happened. There's no crop. We're going to starve. Oh, no. It's a disaster.' It's been a week, folks," Obama said.


“Every day since I signed reform into law, there’s another poll or headline that says 'Nation still divided on health reform.  No great surge in public support,'" Obama said. "Well, yeah.  It happened last week. It’s only been a week."

He scoffed at Republicans who, according to Obama, had proclaimed it would be “Armageddon” when healthcare reform became law, and singled out for criticism House Republican Leader John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerHarry Reid reacts to Boehner book excerpt: 'We didn't mince words' Cruz on Boehner: 'I wear with pride his drunken, bloviated scorn' Boehner on Clinton impeachment: 'I regret that I didn't fight against it' MORE (Ohio), who the crowd booed.

“So after I signed the bill, I looked around. I looked up at the sky to see if asteroids were coming. I looked down at the ground to see if any cracks had opened up in the ground,” Obama said.

"It turned out to be a pretty nice day. Birds were  still chirping. Folks were strolling down the street. Nobody had lost their doctor, nobody had pulled the plug on granny, nobody was being dragged away to be forced into some government plan.”  

He also reiterated his willingness to take on GOP critics of the law who say it should be repealed, repeating that they should “go for it.”

Much of Obama’s speech was dedicated to pointing out provisions in the new law that Obama said would benefit small businesses and families by helping them save money.

He emphasized that it will take time before Americans realize a lot of the benefits that come from the legislation.

The president also warned that “reform will not solve every problem” in the healthcare system, and that it will not bring down costs “overnight.”

Administration officials have made it clear Obama plans to make his case to the American people about why reform was a good idea, and White House spokesman Bill Burton said Thursday that the president is only “in the middle of that process.”

Laying out the strategy of using Obama to push the bill’s popularity, Burton told reporters on Air Force One: “Now that bill is law, and we have to make sure we get in there and dispell some of the rumors and some of the myths about it and underscore some of the benefits the American people are getting out of it.”

Obama traveled to a state that is home to two Republican senators to make his remarks. Neither of the two, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, who both voted against healthcare reform, is up for reelection this year.

Obama praised Snowe’s role in the debate, and said the final bill reflected some of her ideas.

“It’s not the single-payer, government-run system that some on the left have supported in the past," Obama said. "And it’s not what many on the right wanted, which was even fewer rules and regulations for insurance companies. Instead, this reform incorporates ideas from Democrats and Republicans — including some from your senator and my friend, Olympia Snowe, who spent many hours meeting with me about this bill.”

This story was posted at 3:19 p.m. and updated at 3:46 p.m.