At a German press conference yesterday after the G7 Summit, President Obama fielded a question about the pending King v. Burwell case at the Supreme Court. The president noted what is already plainly true to everyone involved in the process: “[T]his should be an easy case,” Obama said, “Frankly, it probably shouldn’t even have been taken up.”
And once he got started talking about the Affordable Care Act, it seemed the president just couldn’t help himself. “What’s more, the thing is working,” Obama added. “I mean, part of what’s bizarre about this whole thing is we haven’t had a lot of conversation about the horrors of Obamacare because none of them come to pass.”
Today, the president was back in the nation’s capital, and went even further while delivering remarks at the Catholic Hospital Association Conference, offering a candid, spirited defense of one of his signature domestic policy initiatives. MSNBC’s Amanda Sakuma reported:
President Obama pressed to preserve his landmark health care law Tuesday ahead of a Supreme Court decision later this month that could imperil insurance access for millions of people, calling the reform too critical and “woven into the fabric of America” for the U.S. to let unravel.Forcefully defending the Affordable Care Act (ACA) during remarks before the Catholic Health Association Assembly, Obama went after the partisan attacks designed to gut a key pillar of the reform law.“We’re not going backward,” Obama said. “There’s something, I have to say, just deeply cynical about the ceaseless, endless, partisan attempts to rollback progress.”
For those who feel like they haven’t heard the president offer a full-throated celebration of the “Obamacare” lately, today’s remarks were a powerful reminder that Obama is not only proud of the amazing successes he’s delivered on health care, he’s also eager to protect these advances against those who want to tear down the American health care system.
This portion, in particular, stood out for me:
“[F]ive years in, what we are talking about it is no longer just a law. It’s no longer just a theory. This isn’t even just about the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. This isn’t about myths or rumors that folks try to sustain. There is a reality that people on the ground day to day are experiencing. Their lives are better.“This is now part of the fabric of how we care for one another. This is health care in America – which is why, once you get outside of Washington and leave behind the Beltway chatter and the politics, Americans support this new reality. When you talk to people who actually are enrolled in a new marketplace plan, the vast majority of them like their coverage. The vast majority are satisfied with their choice of doctors and hospitals and satisfied with their monthly premiums. They like their reality. […]“I understood folks being skeptical or worried before the law passed and there wasn’t a reality there to examine. But once you see millions of people of having health care, once you see that all the bad things that were predicted didn’t happen, you’d think that it would be time to move one…. It seems so cynical to want to take coverage away from millions of people; to take care away from people who need it the most; to punish millions with higher costs of care and unravel what’s now been woven into the fabric of America.”
That’s no small claim. There was a point several years ago at which one might describe the health care system in a two-tiered way: there’s the old system, and then there’s the Affordable Care Act that was added to it. But in 2015, that description no longer makes sense – the distinction between the law and the American system no longer exists.
In very practical terms, those who say they’re eager to gut “Obamacare” are effectively saying they want to gut the American system, largely out of partisan spite.
Republicans knew this was going to happen, which is why they fought tooth and nail to try to prevent the law from being implemented in the first place. GOP officials were well aware of the simple fact that once American families started enjoying the benefits of the Affordable Care Act, and counting on the system to provide health security nationwide, it would create chaos to strip those Americans of their benefits and leave them with nothing.
But Republicans failed; the law was implemented; families received the benefits; and the ACA took root. Literally every prediction the GOP made about the law’s inevitable failure turned out to be wrong, which somehow leaves Republicans even more certain about their credibility on the subject.
And so, as we await word from the Supreme Court, and consider the possibility that Republican justices may take a brazenly stupid case to strip millions of families of their security for no reason, Obama chose today to take a bit of a victory lap. Under the circumstances, it’s hard to blame him.