Obama criticizes Republicans for demanding “ransom just for doing their job”

Barack Obama

Barack Obama

President Barack Obama criticized Republicans on Tuesday for “demand[ing] ransom just for doing their job,” saying the full impact of the government’s shutdown on the country’s still-recovering economy may not be apparent for some time.

“We know that the last time Republicans shut down the government in 1996, it hurt our economy,” Obama said. “And unlike 1996, our economy is still recovering from the worst recession in generations. We know that certain services and benefits that America’s seniors and veterans and business owners depend on must be put on hold. Certain offices, along with every national park and monument, must be closed… And we know that the longer this shutdown continues, the worse the effects will be. More families will be hurt. More businesses will be harmed.”

Obama urged House Republicans to reopen the government, saying the shutdown “isn’t about deficits, or spending or budgets.”

“This shutdown is about rolling back our efforts to provide health insurance to folks who don’t have it,” Obama said. “It’s all about rolling back the Affordable Care Act. This, more than anything else, seems to be what the Republican Party stands for these days. I know it’s strange that one party would make keeping people uninsured the centerpiece of their agenda, but that apparently is what it is… And of course, what’s stranger still is that shutting down our government doesn’t accomplish their stated goal. The Affordable Care Act is a law that passed the House; it passed the Senate. The Supreme Court ruled it constitutional. It was a central issue in last year’s election. It is settled, and it is here to stay. And because of its funding sources, it’s not impacted by a government shutdown.”

Obama said the administration will work to correct any “glitches in the signup process” along the way.

“I heard a striking statistic yesterday — if you get cancer, you are 70 percent more likely to live another five years if you have insurance than if you don’t,” Obama said. “Think about that. That is what it means to have health insurance. Set aside the issues of security and finances and how you’re impacted by that, the stress involved in not knowing whether or not you’re going to have health care. This is life-or-death stuff. Tens of thousands of Americans die each year just because they don’t have health insurance. Millions more live with the fear that they’ll go broke if they get sick. And today, we begin to free millions of our fellow Americans from that fear.”

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