A release from the White House today contained the text of President Obama's remarks on the Affordable Care Act.
Here is the text as sent by the White House (unedited here):
REMARKS BY THE
ON THE AFFORDABLE
10:50 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Hello,
Maryland! (Applause.) Hello, PGCC! (Applause.) It’s good to
be back in PG County. (Applause.)
Give it up for one of the
hardest-working, most effective governors in the country, Governor Martin
Well, it is great to be with all of
you here today --
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I love you!
THE PRESIDENT: I love you
back. It’s wonderful being here. (Applause.)
We also have a few folks who work
so hard on behalf of the people of Maryland every single day: Senator Ben
Cardin is here. (Applause.) Congressman Steny Hoyer is here.
(Applause.) And Congresswoman Donna Edwards is here.
And all of you are here.
(Applause.) Sometimes you just need to escape Beltway politics for a
little bit -- even if you're just a mile or two outside the
Now, I know that a lot of you have
seen some of the antics going on in Congress right now. (Laughter.)
So I wanted to take a little bit of time today to speak with you -- the people
who send us to serve -- about something that is critical to our families,
critical to our businesses, critical to our economy. And that is the
reforms that we are making to our health care system.
There’s been a lot of things said,
a lot of misinformation, a lot of confusion. But there are few things
more fundamental to the economic security of the middle class and everybody
who’s trying to get into the middle class than health care.
For a long time, America was the
only advanced economy in the world where health care was not a right, but a
privilege. We spent more, we got less. We left tens of millions of
Americans without the security of health insurance. By the time the
financial crisis hit, most folks’ premiums had more than doubled in about a
decade. About one in 10 Americans who got their health care through their
employer lost that coverage. So the health care system was not
working. And the rising costs of health care burdened businesses and
became the biggest driver of our long-term deficits.
But this has always been about more
than just statistics. Everywhere I went as I ran for President back in
2007, 2008, everyplace I've gone as President, I would hear stories from folks
just like you of insurers that denied a child coverage because he had a
preexisting condition like asthma; of cancer survivors that had to choose
between their home or their health care; of small businesses who wanted to do
the right thing by their employees but had seen their insurance premiums go up
so high that they just couldn't do it anymore.
And these stories were personal for
me, because I remember my mother worrying about how she was going to deal with
her finances when she got very sick. I remember the fear Michelle and I
felt when Sasha was a few months old and she got meningitis. And we raced
to the hospital and they had to give her a spinal tap. And we didn’t know
what was wrong and we were terrified, never felt so scared or helpless in all
of my life. But we were fortunate enough to have good health
And I remember looking around that
emergency room and thinking -- what about the parents who aren’t that
lucky? What about the parents who get hit with a bill of $20,000 or
$30,000 and they’ve got no idea how to pay for it? What about those
parents whose kids have a chronic illness like asthma and have to keep on going
back to the emergency room because they don't have a regular doctor, and the
bills never stop coming? Who is going to stand up for them?
In the wealthiest nation on Earth,
no one should go broke just because they get sick.
In the United States of America,
health care is not a privilege for the fortunate few -- it is a right.
And I knew that if we didn’t do something about our unfair and inefficient
health care system, it would keep driving up our deficits, it would keep
burdening our businesses, it would keep hurting our families, and it would keep
holding back economic growth.
That's why we took on a broken
health care system. That's why, with the help of folks like Steny and Ben
and Donna, we got it through Congress. That’s why we’ve been implementing
it. That’s why we are going to see it through. The Affordable Care
Act is here. (Applause.)
I don’t have to tell you it was a
challenge to get it done. (Laughter.) A lot of special interests who
liked the system just the way it was fought us tooth and nail. Then
Republicans decided it was good politics to fight it, even though the plan we
proposed drew on a lot of Republican ideas.
But despite all the obstacles, the
Affordable Care Act passed both houses of Congress. I signed it into
law. (Applause.) The Supreme Court ruled it constitutional.
(Applause.) Republicans in Congress have now voted more than 40 times to
undermine or repeal it. Their candidate for president ran on a platform
to repeal it. And at every step, they’ve been unsuccessful.
Now, five days from 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, they will finally be able to
buy quality, affordable health insurance. (Applause.) In five
Preexisting conditions, whether
it’s back pain or allergies that were sticking you with sky-high premiums,
those no longer will prevent you from getting affordable coverage that you
need. That’s going to happen in five days.
Now, of course, 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” -- that’s what they said -- “Armageddon” -- now
they’re threatening steps that actually would badly hurt our entire economy --
not because of the Affordable Care Act but because of what they’re threatening
Some have threatened a government
shutdown if they can’t shut down this law. Others have actually
threatened an economic shutdown by refusing to pay America’s bills if they
can’t delay the law.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: That’s not
going to happen as long as I’m President. (Applause.) The
Affordable Care Act is here to stay. (Applause.)
And so today, I want to speak
plainly, clearly, honestly, about what it means for you and for the people you
Now, let’s start with the fact that even before the
Affordable Care Act fully takes effect, about 85 percent of Americans already
have health insurance -– either through their job, or through Medicare, or
through the individual market. So if you’re one of these folks, it’s
reasonable that you might worry whether health care reform is going to create
changes that are a problem for you -- especially when you’re bombarded with all
sorts of fear-mongering.
So the first thing you need to know
is this: If you already have health care, you don’t have to do
anything. In fact, for the past few years, since I signed the Affordable
Care Act, a lot of you have been enjoying new benefits and protections that you
didn’t before even if you didn’t know they were coming from Obamacare.
Let me just give you a few
examples. Because of the Affordable Care Act, more than 100 million
Americans have gotten free preventive care like mammograms and contraceptive
care with no copays. (Applause.)
Because of the Affordable Care Act,
3 million young adults under age 26 have gained coverage by staying on their
parents’ plan. (Applause.)
Because of the Affordable Care Act,
millions of seniors on Medicare have saved hundreds of dollars on their
prescription medicine. They’ve been getting their prescription drugs
Because of the Affordable Care Act,
just this year, 8.5 million families actually got an average of $100 back from
their insurance companies because the insurance companies spent too much on
things like overhead, and not enough on actual Medicare -- medical
Because of the Affordable Care Act,
insurance companies can no longer put lifetime limits on the care your family
needs, or discriminate against children with preexisting conditions. And
starting on January 1st, they won’t be able to charge women more for their
insurance just because they're women. (Applause.) That's a good
So tens of millions of Americans
are already better off because of the benefits and protections provided by the
Affordable Care Act. Like I said, they may not know why that rebate check
came in the mail. (Laughter.) They may not notice that they're not
having to copay for some preventive care that they received. But they're
getting those benefits. That's already happening. That's already in
place today. It’s been going on for several years.
Those are the benefits of Obamacare
-- the law that Republicans want to repeal. Although it’s interesting --
when you ask Republicans whether they’d repeal the benefits I just mentioned,
when you say to them, well, do you think it’s the right thing to do to let
young people stay on their parents’ plans so they can keep insurance, or do you
want to prevent seniors from getting more discounts on their prescription
drugs, then they’ll say, no, no, no, we like those. Those things are
okay. (Laughter.) So they don't like Obamacare in theory, but some
of the component parts, at least those that poll well, they don't mind.
But that's already in place.
Now, here’s the second thing you need to know. If you’re one of over 40
million Americans who don’t have health insurance –- including hundreds of
thousands of folks right here in Maryland –- starting on Tuesday, five days
from now, you’ll finally have the same chance to buy quality, affordable health
care as everybody else.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thanks, Mr.
THE PRESIDENT: And I want to
break this down for you. I want you to know exactly how it works.
The major reason why people don’t have health insurance is either they don’t
have a job, or they do have a job but their employer doesn’t offer health
insurance, or they’re self-employed. If you’ve ever tried to buy health
insurance on your own, you know it is really, really expensive.
THE PRESIDENT: It’s even
worse if you have a preexisting condition –- and up to half of all Americans
have a preexisting condition. See, the reason it's really expensive if
you're buying it on your own is because you're not part of a big group, you're
not part of a group plan. And what groups do is they spread risk between
sick and healthy people, between older and younger people. And groups --
because insurance companies want the business of groups -- that’s a lot of
customers -- they'll negotiate a better deal with a group than they will with
So if you're on your own, you're
out there trying to negotiate with an insurance company, they're looking and
they're saying, well, you take it or leave it, I'm going to charge you a whole
lot of money. And if you've got a preexisting condition, they'll say, we
don’t even want to insure you because we think you might get sick later on and
we don’t really want to pay, we just want to take in premiums.
So if you're not part of a group,
you're either uninsurable, or you need to spend a small fortune on insurance
that oftentimes is not very good. That’s what's happening right
now. The Affordable Care Act was designed to solve that problem.
And here’s how we do it.
Starting on Tuesday, every American
can visit HealthCare.gov to find out what’s called the insurance marketplace
for your state. Here in Maryland, I actually think it's called
MarylandHealthConnection.gov. But if you go to HealthCare.gov, you can
look and they'll tell you where to go. They'll link to your state.
Now, this is real simple.
It’s a website where you can compare and purchase affordable health insurance
plans, side-by-side, the same way you shop for a plane ticket on Kayak --
(laughter) -- same way you shop for a TV on Amazon. You just go on and
you start looking, and here are all the options.
It’s buying insurance on the
private market, but because now you’re part of a big group plan -- everybody in
Maryland is all logging in and taking a look at the prices -- you’ve got new
choices. Now you've got new competition, because insurers want your
business. And that means you will have cheaper prices.
So you enter in some basic
information about yourself, what level of coverage you’re looking for.
After that, you’ll be presented with a list of quality, affordable plans that
are available in your area. It will say clearly what each plan covers,
what each plan costs. The price will be right there. It will be
Before this law, only a handful of
states required insurance companies to offer you instant price quotes, but
because of this law, insurers in all 50 states will have to offer you instant
price quotes. And so if you’ve ever tried to buy insurance on your own, I
promise you this is a lot easier. It's like booking a hotel or a plane
And here's another thing about
these new plans. If you’re one of those folks who has a preexisting
condition, these plans have to offer you coverage. They can't use your
medical history to charge you more than anybody else. If you couldn’t
afford coverage for your child because he had asthma, he's covered. If
you couldn’t afford coverage because you were told heartburn was a preexisting
condition, you're covered. (Laughter.) If you’re one of the 45 million
Americans with a mental illness, you are covered.
If you’re a young adult or
entrepreneur striking out on your own, you’re covered. (Applause.)
If you’re a young couple who previously had insurance that didn’t include
maternity benefits and now suddenly you need some maternity benefits, you’re
covered. (Applause.) If you lose your job and your health care with
it, you’re covered. (Applause.)
So all those things that would deny
you coverage in the past, that were the cruelties of a broken health care
system, on January 1st, when these plans take effect --
AUDIENCE MEMBER: October 1st.
THE PRESIDENT: No, no, no, no
-- hold on. (Laughter.) Hold on. I know what I'm talking
about. You sign up starting on Tuesday. (Laughter.) The plan
will take effect on January 1st. And when these plans take effect, all those
things change forever.
Now, what about choice and
cost? In states where the federal government helps run these
marketplaces, the average American will have more than 50 different plans to
choose from, with different levels of coverage. And because insurance
companies are competing against one another for your business, a lot of
Americans will pay significantly less for their insurance than they do
now. Premiums are going to be different in different parts of the
country, depending on how much coverage you buy. But 95 percent of
uninsured Americans will see their premiums cost less than was expected.
And many families, including more than two-thirds of all young adults who buy health
care through these online marketplaces, are also going to be eligible for tax
credits that bring down the cost down even further. (Applause.)
So let me be specific. Right
here in Maryland, average 25-year-old -- have we got any 25-year-olds here?
(Applause.) All right, so we've got a few. Some of you raised your
hand -- I'm not sure you're -- (laughter.)
Here in Maryland, average
25-year-old making $25,000 a year could end up getting covered for as little as
$80 a month -- $80 a month. (Applause.) Here in Maryland, a family
of four making $60,000 a year could get covered for as little as $164 a
It’s the same story across the
country. In Texas, average 27-year-old making $25,000 could get covered
for as little as $83 a month. In Florida, a family of four making $50,000
could get covered for as little as $104 a month.
And keep in mind the government
didn’t set these prices. The insurance companies -- they proposed these
prices because they want to get in with these big groups, with all these new
customers. The insurance companies are saying these marketplaces, this
law, will work. They're putting money on the line because they think it
will work. Competition, choice, transparency -- all these things are keeping
Knowing you can offer your family
the security of health care -- that’s priceless. Now you can do it for
the cost of your cable bill. Probably less than your cellphone
bill. (Laughter and applause.) Think about that. Good health
insurance for the price of your cellphone bill, or less.
And let’s say you’re a young woman,
you just turned -- I’m interested in this, because I got two daughters,
right? Let’s say you just turned 26. Let’s say you can’t stay on
your parents’ plan anymore. If you buy health care through the
marketplace, your plan has to cover free checkups, flu shots, contraceptive
care. So you might end up getting more health care each month than you’re
paying for the premiums.
All told, nearly 6 in 10 Americans
without health insurance today will be able to get covered for $100 or
less. It would actually be 8 in 10 if every governor were working as hard
as Governor O’Malley to make the Affordable Care Act work for their
Unfortunately, we’ve still got a few
Republican governors who are so opposed to the very idea of the law -- or at
least they’re doing it for politics -- that they haven’t lifted a finger to
help cover more people. Some of them have actually tried to harm the law
before it takes effect.
But a lot of Republican governors
are putting politics aside and doing the right thing. (Applause.)
And they deserve congratulations for that. It wasn’t easy for them.
But you’ve got conservative governors in Ohio, in Michigan, in Pennsylvania and
Arizona -- about eight Republican governors in all, they’ve decided to expand
Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act to cover more people in their
states. And millions of Americans without insurance will get coverage
through these programs.
So that’s what the Affordable Care
Act is. That’s what all the fuss is about. We’re giving more
benefits and protections for folks who already have health insurance, and we
created a new market -- basically a big group plan -- for folks without health
insurance so that they get a better deal, and then we’re providing tax credits
to help folks afford it.
You would think that would not be
so controversial. (Laughter.) You would think people would say,
okay, let’s go ahead and let’s do this so everybody has health insurance
coverage. The result is more choice, more competition, real health care
And one question people ask:
How is it possible to do all this and keep costs down? Well, part of what
we did was build into the law all sorts of measures to assure that the growth
of health care costs would start slowing down. And it has. See,
under the old system, doctors and hospitals, they were rewarded not for the
quality of care, but for the quantity of care. They’d get paid for the
number of procedures they did instead of whether they were working or
not. Now, there are penalties for hospitals with high readmission
rates. And last year, surprisingly enough, for the first time ever,
hospital readmission rates for Medicare patients actually fell. (Applause.)
Right? That means fewer taxpayer dollars go to providers that don’t serve
their patients well.
Over the past five years, we’ve
more than doubled the adoption of electronic health records for
physicians. So that means they can track what’s going on better and make
fewer mistakes. New technology startup companies are coming up with new
inventions to monitor patient health, prevent infections. There’s
innovation going on all across the country. As a consequence, today,
Medicare costs per enrollee are rising at the slowest rate in years.
Employer-based health care costs are growing at about one-third the rate of a
All told, since I signed the
Affordable Care Act into law, we have seen the slowest growth in health care
costs on record. (Applause.)
So let’s think about this. If
you got health insurance, you’re getting better protections, better
benefits. If you don't have health insurance, you're now getting to be
part of a group plan. And health care costs overall are rising much more
slowly than they did before we signed the law. So far, so good. So
what’s all the fuss about? What is it that everybody -- what is that
these Republicans are just so mad about?
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: No, no, no,
look, I want to be honest. There are parts of the bill that some folks
don’t like. To help pay for the program, the wealthiest Americans –-
families who make more than $250,000 a year -– will have to pay a little bit
more. Extremely costly health insurance plans will no longer qualify for
unlimited tax breaks. And most people who can afford health insurance now
have to take responsibility to buy health insurance, or pay a penalty.
Right? Now, the reason we do
that is, when uninsured people who can afford to get health insurance don’t,
and then they get sick or they get hit by a car, and they show up at the
emergency room, who do you think pays for that?
AUDIENCE: We do.
THE PRESIDENT: You do, in the
form of higher premiums. Because the hospitals, they've got to get their
money back somehow. So if they're treating somebody who doesn’t have
health insurance, they jack up premiums for everybody who does have health
insurance. It’s like a hidden tax of $1,000 per family every year who has
got health insurance. So we're saying that’s not fair. If you can
afford to get health insurance, don’t dump the costs on us. The law also
requires employers with more than 50 employees to either provide health insurance
for your workers or pay a penalty.
Now, some folks say, well, that’s
not fair. But if you are an employer, you can afford to provide health
insurance, you don’t, your employees get sick, they go to the emergency room or
they end up on Medicaid because you're not doing what you're doing -- you
should be doing -- why is it everybody else should be bearing those
Now, there are some folks who
disagree with me on this. They say that violates people's liberty,
telling them they've got to get health insurance. Well, I disagree.
So did Congress when it passed this bill into law. It is unfair for folks
to game the system and make the rest of us pay for it. (Applause.)
It's unfair for responsible employers who are doing the right thing, giving
their employees health insurance, to get undercut by some operator that’s not
providing health insurance for their employees. That puts the employer
who's doing the right thing at a disadvantage, right?
So this idea that you've got
responsibilities -- everybody -- that’s what Massachusetts did when they
passed their health care plan a few years ago. And, by the way, today, in
Massachusetts, almost everybody is covered and the system works pretty
All right, let me just wrap up by
saying this: Like any law, like any big product launch, there are going
to be some glitches as this thing unfolds. Folks in different parts of
the country will have different experiences. It's going to be smoother in
places like Maryland where governors are working to implement it rather than
fight it. (Applause.) But somewhere around the country, there's
going to be a computer glitch and the website's not working quite the way it's
supposed to, or something happens where there's some error made somewhere --
that will happen. That happens whenever you roll out a new program.
And I guarantee you, the opponents of the law, they'll have their cameras ready
to document anything that doesn’t go completely right, and they'll send it to
the news folks and they'll say, look at this, this thing is not working.
But most of the stories you'll hear
about how Obamacare just can't work is just not based on facts. Every
time they have predicted something not working, it's worked.
(Applause.) I mean, they said that these rates would come in real high
and everybody's premiums would be sky high. And it turns out, lo and
behold, actually, the prices came in lower than we expected -- lower than I
predicted. That’s how well competition and choice work. (Applause.)
They said this would be a disaster
in terms of jobs. There's no widespread evidence that the Affordable Care
Act is hurting jobs. One of John McCain's former economic advisors
admitted just this week -- and I'm quoting here -- “I was expecting to see it.
I was looking for it," but "it’s not there.” It’s not
The reason is reforming health care
is going to help the economy over the long term. Not only will it help
lower costs for businesses, not only will it help families, it will free up entrepreneurship
in this country. Because if you’ve got a great idea for your own business
but you’ve never tried it because your spouse had a preexisting condition and
you didn't want to lose your employer-based coverage, you've got the ability
now to get your own coverage. That's security. That’s freedom.
So we’re now only five days away
from finishing the job.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Five days
THE PRESIDENT: Five
days. (Applause.) Starting on Tuesday, you can sign up. But
you don't have to sign up on Tuesday. You've got six months to enroll in
these new plans. You can go to the website; you can check it out; you can
see if what I'm saying is true. (Laughter.) You can sign up next
week. You can sign up next month. You can sign up two months from now,
three months from now. But you can sign up.
Tell your friends, tell your
classmates, tell your family members about the new health care choices.
Talk to folks at your church, in your classroom. You’re going to a football
game, basketball game -- talk to them. Tell them what the law
And over the next few months, state
and local leaders from across the country are going to hold events to help get
the word out. Go out there and join them. Secretary of Health and
Human Services Kathleen Sebelius is in Texas right now, working with folks on
the ground to make sure this law works for Texas families. All across the
country, people are getting ready. All kinds of people are working
hand-in-hand because we’re all in this together -- that’s when America is at
its best. That’s what this country is all about.
But we need you to spread the
word. But you don't have to take my word for it. If you talk to
somebody who says, well, I don't know, I was watching FOX News and they said
this was horrible -- (laughter) -- you can say, you know what, don't take my
word for it, go on the website. See for yourself what the prices
are. See for yourself what the choices are. Then make up your own
That's all I'm asking. Make
up your own mind. I promise you, if you go on the website and it turns
out you're going to save $100, $200, $300 a month on your insurance, or you'll
be able to buy insurance for the first time, even if you didn't vote for me --
(laughter) -- I’ll bet you’ll sign up for that health care plan.
So you don’t need to listen to the
politicians. You don’t need to listen to me. Just go check it out
for yourself. Make up your own mind whether this works for you.
Look, part of the reason I need
your help to make this law work is because there are so many people out there
working to make it fail. One of the biggest newspapers in the country
recently published an editorial I thought was pretty good. They said, the
Republicans in Congress are poisoning Obamacare, then trying to claim it’s
sick. (Laughter.) That’s exactly what’s been happening.
I mean, they have tried to put up
every conceivable roadblock. They cut funding for efforts to educate
people about what’s in the law. Some of them said if their constituents
called them, we won’t even try to explain to them what’s in the law. They
actually opened up an investigation into people who try to help churches and
charities understand how to help people sign up for the law.
Some of the tea party’s biggest
donors -- some of the wealthiest men in America -- are funding a cynical ad
campaign trying to convince young people not to buy health care at all. I
mean, think about it. These are billionaires several times over. You know
they’ve got good health care.
THE PRESIDENT: But they are
actually spending money on television, trying to convince young people that if
you’ve got the choice between getting affordable health care or going without
health care, you should choose not having any health care. Now, do you
think if you get sick or you get hurt, and you get stuck with a massive bill,
these same folks, they’re going to help you out?
THE PRESIDENT: Are they going
to pay for your health care?
THE PRESIDENT: It is
interesting, though, how over the last couple years, the Republican Party has
just spun itself up around this issue. And the fact is the Republicans’
biggest fear at this point is not that the Affordable Care Act will fail.
What they’re worried about is it’s going to succeed. (Applause.) I
mean, think about it. If it was as bad as they said it was going to be,
then they could just go ahead and let it happen and then everybody would hate it
so much, and then everybody would vote to repeal it, and that would be the end
So what is it that they’re so
AUDIENCE MEMBER: You!
(Laughter and applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: They have made
such a big political issue out of this, trying to scare everybody with lies
about “death panels” and “killing granny” -- (laughter) -- right?
“Armageddon.” So if it actually works, they’ll look pretty bad. If
it actually works, that will mean that everything they were saying really
wasn’t true and they were just playing politics.
AUDIENCE: That's right!
THE PRESIDENT: 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.”
(Laughter.) Right? So in other words, we’ve got to shut this thing
down before people find out that they like it. (Laughter and
applause.) That’s a strange argument. Don’t you think that’s a
THE PRESIDENT: And the closer
we get, the more desperate they get. I mean, over the last few weeks the
rhetoric has just been cranked up to a place I’ve never seen before. One
congressman said that Obamacare is “the most dangerous piece of legislation
ever passed.” (Laughter.) Ever. In the history of America,
this is the most dangerous piece of legislation. (Laughter.)
Creating a marketplace so people can buy group insurance plans -- the most
You had a state representative
somewhere say that it’s “as destructive to personal and individual liberty as
the Fugitive Slave Act.”
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: Think about
that. Affordable health care is worse than a law that let slave owners
get their runaway slaves back.
THE PRESIDENT: I mean, these
are quotes. I’m not making this stuff up. And here’s one more that
I’ve heard -- I like this one -- we have to -- and I’m quoting here -- “We have
to repeal this failure before it literally kills women, kills children, kills
senior citizens.” Now, I have to say -- that one was from six months ago
-- I just want to point out we still have women -- (laughter) -- we still have
children, we still have senior citizens. (Applause.)
All this would be funny if it
wasn’t so crazy. And a lot of it is just hot air. A lot of it is
just politics. I understand that. But now the tea party Republicans
have taken it to a whole new level because they’re threatening either to shut
down the government, or shut down the entire economy by refusing to let America
pay its bills for the first time in history -- unless I agree to gut a law that
will help millions of people.
AUDIENCE: Booo --
THE PRESIDENT: Think about
this. Shutting down the government just because you don’t like a law that
was passed and found constitutional, and because you don’t like the idea of
giving people new access to affordable health care -- what kind of idea is
Think about how that would impact
Maryland. This is an area where lots of people would be badly hurt by a
government shutdown. A lot of people around here wake up and go to serve
their country every single day in the federal government -- civilians who work
at military bases, analysts, scientists, janitors, people who process new
veterans’ and survivors’ benefit claims. They’d all have to stay home and
not get paid. And we all know it would badly damage the economy.
Whatever effect Obamacare might
have on the economy is far less than even a few days of government
shutdown. (Applause.) I mean, even if you believe that
Obamacare somehow was going to hurt the economy, it won't hurt the economy as
bad as a government shutdown. And by the way, the evidence is that it’s
not going to hurt the economy. Obamacare is going to help the
economy. And it’s going to help families and help businesses.
As for not letting America pay its
bills, I have to say, no Congress before this one has ever – ever -- in history
been irresponsible enough to threaten default, to threaten an economic
shutdown, to suggest America not pay its bills, just to try to blackmail a
President into giving them some concessions on issues that have nothing to do
with a budget.
I mean, this is the United States
of America. We’re not a deadbeat nation. We don't run out on our
tab. We don't not pay our note. We are the world’s bedrock economy,
the world’s currency of choice. The entire world looks to us to make sure
that the world economy is stable. You don't mess with that.
(Applause.) You don’t mess with that.
And that's why I will not negotiate
on anything when it comes to the full faith and credit of the United States of
We’re not going to submit to this
kind of total irresponsibility. Congress needs to pay our bills on
time. Congress needs to pass a budget on time. Congress needs to
put an end to governing from crisis to crisis. (Applause.)
Our focus as a country should be on
creating new jobs and growing our economy, and helping young people learn, and
restoring security for hardworking, middle-class families.
This is not about the fortunes of
any one party. This is not about politics. This is about the future
of our country. If Republicans do not like the law, they can go through
the regular channels and processes to try to change it. That's why we
have elections. So they can go through the normal processes and
procedures of a democracy, but you do not threaten the full faith and credit of
the United States of America. (Applause.)
And, meanwhile, we're going to keep
implementing the law.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: It's the
THE PRESIDENT: It's the
law. And like I said, there are going to be some glitches along the
way. Every law has hiccups when it’s first starting off. People
forget, by the way, Medicare Part D -- passed by my predecessor, George Bush,
passed by a Republican House of Representatives -- the prescription drug bill
passed into law 10 years ago was even more unpopular than the Affordable Care
Act before it took into effect. Everybody was saying what a disaster it
was going to be. The difference was Democrats worked with Republicans to
make it work even better. (Applause.) Steny remembers this.
Even though Democrats weren't happy that the law wasn’t paid for and was going
to add hundreds of billions of dollars to the deficit, and we weren't
negotiating a better deal with the drug companies, everybody worked -- once it
was the law -- to try to make it work. And today, about 90 percent of
seniors like their prescription drug coverage.
So we may not get that same level
of cooperation from Republicans right now. But the good news is 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. (Laughter and
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.
But I’m always willing to work with
anybody from either party. If you’ve got a serious idea for making the
Affordable Care Act better, or making our broader health care system better,
I'm happy to work with you -- because that’s what the majority of the American
people want. They don’t want posturing; they want governing. They
don’t want politics; they want us to work together to make the lives of
ordinary Americans a little bit better, a little bit more secure.
So, Maryland, I’m asking for your
help. (Applause.) I need your help. (Applause.) We may
have some very well-funded opponents. We may have some very talkative
opponents. But you're going to be the best, most credible messengers to
spread the word about this law and all the benefits that the American people
stand to get and have earned.
So tell your friends, tell your
family. Get covered. Get on that website. Answer the
questions of folks who don’t know what this is all about. Point them to
HealthCare.gov. Teach them how to use the website. Make sure they
sign up. Let's help our fellow Americans get covered.
Then let's keep on working to
rebuild the middle class. (Applause.) Let's go and focus on
creating more good-paying jobs. Let's build more ladders of opportunity
for everybody willing to work hard. (Applause.) Let's make sure the
United States of America keeps being a place where you can make it if you
Thank you, everybody. God
bless you. God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
11:42 A.M. EDT
Labels: AFFORDABLE CARE ACT, Barack Obama, Largo, Maryland, Obamacare, President Barack Obama, Prince George’s Community College