As Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) stood in the Senate in vocal opposition to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama took a veiled shot at the freshman senator during a health-care summit at the Clinton Global Initiative.
Obama didn’t mention Cruz by name, but he referred to “one of the major opponents” who wants to “potentially shut down the government over Obamacare.” Cruz has led the charge in the Republican Party to strip funding for Obamacare in the continuing resolution that keeps the government funded.
During an hour-long discussion with President Bill Clinton at the CGI in midtown Manhattan, Obama knocked Cruz for his stated reasoning to oppose Obamacare.
“Part of what I think the resistance that we’ve seen ramp up particularly over the last couple of months is all about is the opponents of health care reform know they’re going to sign up,” Obama said, referring to state exchanges that open up next Tuesday.
“In fact, one of the major opponents, when asked, well, why is it that you’d potentially shut down the government at this point just to block Obamacare, he basically fessed up. He said, well, once consumers get hooked on having health insurance and subsidies, then they won’t want to give it up.
“I mean, that’s — you can look at the transcript. This is one of the major opponents of health care reform. It is an odd logic. Essentially they’re saying people will like this thing too much and then it will be really hard to roll back.”
Cruz and other conservatives have argued that it will be difficult to roll back Obamacare once it starts to become fully implemented next week. And he admits that it will be even more difficult after Jan. 1, when some of its benefits — government subsidies for health insurance and Medicaid expansion — start to take effect.
Obama and Clinton spent nearly an hour talking health-care policy and the Affordable Care Act. With Clinton moderating and asking the questions, Obama spent most of that time arguing that the new system would help the economy and sink the long-term budget deficit — all at the personal cost of a monthly cell-phone bill.
Obama lamented what he called a “political” effort to dismantle the law. He made reference to the same debate he said took place under the Clinton administration.
“Let’s face it, it’s been a little political, this whole Obamacare thing,” Obama said to laughter.
“And so what you’ve had is an unprecedented effort that you’ve seen ramp up over the last month or so in which those who have opposed the idea of universal health care in the first place and have fought this thing tooth and nail through Congress and through the courts and so forth have been trying to scare and discourage people from getting a good deal. And some of you may have seen some of the commercials out there that are a little whacky.”
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