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President Barack Obama on Tuesday defiantly declared that “this Republican shutdown” risks hurting the fragile economy and pressed the House GOP to abandon its “ideological crusade” against Obamacare.
“This Republican shutdown did not have to happen,” Obama said in the Rose Garden, surrounded by a dozen Americans who stand to benefit from his landmark health care overhaul.
“They’ve shut down the government over an ideological crusade to deny affordable health insurance to millions of Americans,” he charged. "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."
Obama pointed to the last partial government shutdown, in 1996, and warned that a closure will hurt the economy.
“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,” he said. “So once again, I urge House Republicans to reopen the government, restart the services Americans depend on and allow the public servants who have been sent home to return to work.”
Obama directed those listening to www.healthcare.gov if they want to apply for health care exchanges where they can buy insurance, saying it’s time to “get America covered, once and for all.”
The president allowed that the site had suffered glitches — but portrayed it as victim of its own success, saying more than 1 million people visited the site before 7 a.m.
“We're going to be speeding things up in the next few hours to handle all of this demand that exceeds anything that we had expected,” Obama said. “Consider that just a couple of weeks ago, Apple rolled out a new mobile operating system, and within days, they found a glitch, so they fixed it. I don't remember anybody suggesting Apple should stop selling iPhones or iPads or threatening to shut down the company if they didn't. That's not how we do things in America. We don't actively root for failure.”
But House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R.-Calif., said the problems showed the law's underlying failures.
"Americans are attempting to purchase health insurance on Obamacare exchanges and are being met with crashing websites, missing price information, confusing forms and in some cases, exchanges that had to delay their start date because they aren’t ready yet," Issa said in a statement. "These ‘glitches,’ which the President is trying to brush off, reveal how totally unprepared the government is for this launch even with three and a half years to prepare. This is nothing, however, compared to the potentially irreversible damage the law threatens in the long term."
As he began his remarks, Obama’s microphone generated feedback, leading him to worry about a technical glitch. “Can everybody hear me? Mic work?”