Earlier today in Maryland, President Obama delivered a barnburner of a speech
, defending Obamacare and taking on its tea party Republican critics with a vintage mix of policy wonkiness and pointed political barbs. Early in his remarks, he pointed out why Republicans are in such a fever to defeat Obamacare now:
Now, five days from now, on October 1st, millions of Americans who don’t have health insurance because they’ve been priced out of the market or because they’ve been denied access because of a preexisting condition will finally be able to buy quality, affordable health insurance.
Quality, affordable health insurance is a pretty good thing to have—it's certainly not the monster that Obamacare's critics have claimed the law will be, so they want to stop it before it starts. That's not surprising, but what is surprising is that they are so open about recognizing this fact:
Just the other day, one Republican in Congress said we need to shut this thing down before the marketplaces open and people get to see that they’ll be getting coverage and getting these subsidies because — and I’m going to quote him here — he said, “It’s going to prove almost impossible to undo Obamacare.” So, in other words, we’ve got to shut this thing down before people find out that they like it.
The Republican to which Obama referred? None other than
Calgary Cruz. And you know what? Cruz is right! Obamacare will be hard to undo ... because it will be popular. But unfortunately:
The closer we’ve gotten to this date, the more irresponsible folks who are opposed to this law have become. Some of the same Republicans who warned three years ago that this law would be “Armageddon.”
And now, Obama said, the very same Republicans that claimed Obamacare would be Armageddon are threatening Armagaddon to stop it. But even though Obama said he would "not negotiate" in the face of their blackmail, he expressed optimism about the potential for future support—and as you'll see below the fold, he cited the example of none other than Ronald Reagan to make his case.
I believe eventually they’ll come around. Because Medicare and Social Security faced the same kind of criticism. Before Medicare came into law, one Republican warned that “one of these days, you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.” That was Ronald Reagan. And eventually, Ronald Reagan came around to Medicare and thought it was pretty good, and actually helped make it better.
So that’s what's going to happen with the Affordable Care Act. And once it's working really well, I guarantee you they will not call it Obamacare.
Here is a prediction for you: A few years from now, when people are using this to get coverage and everybody is feeling pretty good about all the choices and competition that they've got, there are going to be a whole bunch of folks who say, yes, I always thought this provision was excellent. (Laughter.) I voted for that thing. You watch. (Laughter.) It will not be called Obamacare. (Laughter.)
Now that's some deliciously cold stuff: Citing Ronald Reagan to remind Republicans that eventually they will come around to accepting the popularity of affordable health insurance for all. And he's right: Once the benefits of Obamacare start to unfold, and the nightmare scenario painted by Republicans prove to have been nothing but scare tactics, the very same crowd that assails Obamacare today will be trying to claim credit for it tomorrow.
The full transcript of the president's speech is available here and timaeus, who attended the speech, has a diary on the Recommended List.