- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 22, 2013

President Obama hailed a new spirit of cooperation in Congress on Saturday, while Republicans warned young people that the president’s health care law is a “ripoff” and ought to be scrapped.

In his weekly address, Mr. Obama praised Republicans and Democrats for compromising in recent weeks to approve a budget and confirm several of his nominees for Cabinet posts and judgeships.

He didn’t mention that most of the nominations were approved only because Senate Democrats eliminated the filibuster in late November as an option for blocking presidential nominees.

“It’s a hopeful sign that we can end the cycle of short-sighted, crisis-driven decision-making and actually work together to get things done,” Mr. Obama said. “After a year of showdowns and obstruction that only held back our economy, we’ve been able to break the logjam a bit over the last few weeks.”

But the Republicans’ weekly address, delivered by Rep. Aaron Schock of Illinois, took aim at Obamacare and the administration’s need to enroll young people at premiums that Mr. Schock called “a ripoff.”

“This health care law is a bad product for young people,” Mr. Schock said. “Young people helped put the president in office, and with this health care law, he’s pushing them into years of less choice, fewer opportunities, and larger bills.”

The administration is scrambling to enroll younger, healthier people in Obamacare to help the program pay for older and sicker patients. Coverage starts on Jan. 1, although most consumers can enroll through the end of March without penalty.

The administration is promoting the health care law among young people through social media with B-list celebrities, including singer Adam Levine of Maroon 5 and Latin Grammy winner Armando Perez, better known by his stage name Pitbull. The campaign, called “Tell a Friend — Get Covered,” includes a push on Twitter focused on the hashtag #getcovered.

Mr. Schock ridiculed the campaign as an attempt to exploit young people.

“No matter how many actors, and rappers, and rock stars the president rolls out, the best sales pitch in the world can’t sell a bad product,” Mr. Schock said. “We ought to scrap it and start over with an approach that focuses on lower costs, more choice, and more freedom and competition. We should make it so that young people pay their fair share for health care, and nothing more.”

In his radio address, the president also made another pitch for extending unemployment benefits.

“Right now, because Congress failed to act before leaving on vacation, more than one million Americans are poised to lose a vital source of income just a few days after Christmas,” Mr. Obama said. “For many people who are still looking for work, unemployment insurance is a lifeline that can make the difference between temporary hardship or lasting catastrophe. Instead of punishing these families who can least afford it — especially now — Congress should first restore that lifeline immediately, then put their entire focus on creating more good jobs that pay good wages.”

The president and his family arrived in Hawaii early Saturday for the start of a 16-day vacation on the island of Oahu. The first family’s entourage on Air Force One included Michelle Obama’s mother, Marian Robinson, and dogs Sunny and Bo.

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