Obama returns to the White House | Politics

It felt like the good old days Tuesday at the White House, with Joe Biden and Barack Obama touting the Affordable Care Act to a grateful audience of Democratic lawmakers and health care advocates.

And former President Obama understands — really, no kidding, folks — that Biden is now in the top job as the current administration tries to build on the law signed 12 years ago.

“Thank you, Vice President Biden, Vice President Harris,” Obama said as he opened his speech, prompting laughter and a dutiful salute from the man who was once Obama’s second-in-command and is now commander. chief.

Political cartoons about Joe Biden

‘Everything has been set up,’ Obama said, recovering, before calling Biden back as ‘my president’ and hailing the efforts of the current White House occupant to expand Obama’s signature law. .

It was Obama’s first visit to the White House since leaving in 2017, when Donald Trump — or “the old guy,” as Biden calls him — moved into 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

And he had direct, more nuanced advice for his successor’s successor: Skip what you can and improve it later, once you’ve got the framework in place. Understand that people will be wary of change at first, but might come back once they get used to a new policy. And always remember that the microphone in the room is adorned with the White House is live.

“Everyone who worked on this project understood from the start that the Affordable Care Act isn’t perfect,” Obama said. His administration “had to compromise” and “didn’t get everything we wanted”.

But “it’s, to quote a famous American, ‘a big deal,'” Obama said, laughing and nodding at Biden.

The 44th president was referring to Biden’s awkward moment during the signing of the Obamacare bill in 2010, when the then vice president leaned toward Obama and called the law a “big deal.” The swear word was picked up on the microphone.

After teasing Biden about changes to the White House — Secret Service agents now have to wear aviator goggles and the Navy mess is now an ice cream parlour, Obama joked, not mentioning that “there’s a cat running around” – Obama said the grueling work it took to pass the health care law and defend it against a myriad of lawsuits and more than 70 efforts by Republicans in Congress to kill it was worth it sadness.

“I know how discouraged people can be with Washington. Everyone gets frustrated with what’s going on in this city sometimes,” Obama said. “Progress seems far too slow. What the Affordable Care Act shows is that you are driven by the central idea that together we can improve the lives of this generation and the next.”

Biden, introducing himself as “the vice president of Barack Obama,” called Obamacare “the most consequential” legislation since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid in the 1960s. And just like those programs, “we knew we had to continue to strengthen this legislation”.

The administration announced on Tuesday that it was seeking a rule change that would address Obamacare’s so-called “family problem.” The law says people without “affordable” workplace health care (meaning it costs less than 10% of the worker’s household income) can access a plan under Obamacare.

But the current rules do not take into account the cost of covering other members of the household. The rule change — which does not require congressional approval — would make the 10% threshold apply to the entire family.

A senior administration official said the new rule, which would take effect Jan. 1, would mean lower premiums for nearly a million Americans and coverage for another 200,000 who are no longer insured. .

The law nearly cost Obama re-election, the former president noted Tuesday, because it was unpopular and Republicans warned people they would be subjected to inferior “socialized” medicine. It also contributed to a massive loss of Democratic seats in Congress that fall — a “shellacking,” as Obama called it at the time.

Since then, the law has become much more popular. Ongoing survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that in July 2014, 37% of people approved of the law and 53% disapproved of it. Last month, those numbers were nearly reversed, with 55% of Americans supporting the law and 42% hating it.

Republicans have been making noise to try again to overturn the law, should they take control of both houses of Congress and the White House in 2024. Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, will be re-elected this fall, said Axios on Monday that the GOP should repeal and replace the law if it accomplishes this series of reversals of party control.

Democrats face a daunting political environment midterms this fall, with many members of their party stepping down from office and others facing serious challenges from GOP candidates.

Asked by a White House reporter on Tuesday what Democrats could do to improve their chances in November, Obama replied, “We have a story to tell. We just have to tell it.”

After the passage of Obamacare, the number of non-elderly, uninsured Americans fell from 48 million in 2010 to 28 million in 2016, the The Department of Health and Human Services reported. But the number jumped back to 30 million in 2020. Trump, who opposed the law, cut tens of millions of dollars in funding for “navigators,” people hired to help Americans sign up for coverage, and made no real effort to promote the plans during enrollment season.

In the last registration periodFrom November 2021 to mid-January this year, a record 13.6 million Americans signed up for coverage under Obamacare plans.

When the new rules go into effect, “working families in America will get the help they need to afford comprehensive family coverage,” Biden said at Tuesday’s event. He urged more states to join the 38 states that have expanded Medicaid under the Health Care Act.

Afterwards, he and Obama continued to work the piece – just as they did when Obama had the top job. “Barack, I’ll remind you,” Biden said as the crowd shouted to greet them. “It’s a hot mic.”

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