President Obama on Friday defended his signature health care law and lambasted Republican-led threats to dismantle the reforms, a public attempt to navigate his recent decision to delay one of the law’s key mandates and wave off a burgeoning threat to shut down the government over the controversial law.
“The one unifying principle in the Republican Party at the moment is making sure that 30 million people don’t have health care,” he said in a White House press conference before his family leaves for vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.
“There’s not even a pretense now that they’re going to replace it with something better,” he added.
Mr. Obama was responding to critics of his July 2 decision to delay the law’s “employer mandate,” which requires employers of 50 or more full-time workers to provide health coverage or pay fines, without offering relief to everyday Americans subject to the law’s “individual mandate” to purchase insurance.
He said the decision was based on business leaders’ concerns about the reporting requirements tied to the mandate. Normally, he said, he would approach Republican leaders and say they need to tweak the law.
“But we’re not in a normal atmosphere around here when it comes to quote-unquote Obamacare,” he told reporters.
Republican aides laughed off the president’s assertions in a battery of Twitter messages.
The Republican-led House, they said, was more than willing to pass a bill that codified the employer-mandate delay into law.
Mr. Obama also downplayed a movement promoted by conservative groups and outspoken Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida to strike down any spending deals this September that include funding for the president’s health care law.
Mr. Obama said Americans have no patience for a government shutdown and that “common sense will prevail.”
“We’ll see what happens,” he said. “We’ve got a couple months.”