Obama Accuses Republicans of 'Blackmail' for Pitting Obamacare Against Government Shutdown

Obama predicts public opinion shift in favor of Obamacare.


"I have to say no Congress before this one has ever, ever in history been irresponsible enough to threaten default,” President Barack Obama said in a speech Thursday at Prince George's Community College in Largo, Md.

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President Barack Obama mocked continued Republican opposition to his health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act, during a speech Tuesday at Prince George's Community College in Largo, Md.

The president also accused conservatives of attempting to blackmail him into repealing or defunding the law by threatening a government shutdown.

[READ: Obama Must Bargain on Debt Ceiling, Boehner Says]

"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," he said. "I have to say no Congress before this one has ever, ever in history been irresponsible enough to threaten default, to threaten an economic shut down, 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 the budget."

The president's speech comes after Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, gave a nearly 22-hour speech on the Senate floor pushing for just that outcome. Without referring to Cruz by name, Obama made fun of Cruz's mission.

"[Cruz] said, 'It's going to prove almost impossible to undo Obamacare,'" Obama said. "So in other words, we've got to shut this thing down before people learn that they like it. That's a strange argument. Don't you think that's a strange argument? And the closer we get the more desperate they get."

Obama and Democratic allies, such as former President Bill Clinton, have been on a media blitz in recent weeks to promote the controversial law that is still held in low-esteem by most Americans, according to polls. Attention has come to a head as government spending bills must get passed before Oct. 1, a date that coincides with open enrollment for health care marketplaces created by Obamacare.

But Obama confidently predicted public opinion would break in support of the law as more and more Americans were familiarized with its benefits.

[POLL: Voters Will Blame Both Parties for Shutdown]

"Once it's working very well I guarantee you they will not call it Obamacare," he said. "Here is a prediction for you – a few years from now, people are using this to get coverage, everyone is feeling pretty good about all the choices and competition, there are going to be a whole bunch of folks who say, 'yeah yeah, I always thought this provision was excellent. I voted for that.' You watch. It will not be called Obamacare."

For Republicans who remain unsatisfied with the measure, he advised them to offer their own ideas for genuine improvements or work to repeal the law through normal legislative procedure.

"Congress has got to put an end to governing from crisis to crisis," Obama said. "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."

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