WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, a South Jersey Republican, blasted President Obama and his health care law as the federal government hurtled toward a shutdown Monday afternoon.
“The president has not acted like an adult,” Smith said after a meeting of House Republicans.
He said Obama’s law is “egregiously flawed” and that he has refused any negotiations to improve it.
“We’ve had a tone deaf White House that does not want to be reasonable,” Smith said. “President Obama won’t meet with the Republicans. It’s all his way.”
Smith, voicing the views of many Republicans pushing for a fight on the health law even as a shutdown looms, added that Obamacare was rammed through Congress full of problems, and that many Americans would lose their health coverage, despite Obama’s famous promise that those who like their current coverage could keep it.
“That’s a promise broken with capital B,” Smith said. Many companies, Smith said, will push their workers onto health exchanges to avoid paying for health care and to keep up with competitors.
“He has incentivized the ultimate demise – and it’s already happening – of employer-based health care. It’s a matter of when not if, if this law is not completely and fundamentally changed,” Smith said.
Smith joined many fellow Republicans in insisting that any new spending measure include changes to Obamacare – a condition Obama and Senate Democrats have flatly rejected. The latest GOP plan would delay the law's individual mandate for a year and bar the government from helping pay for the coverage of Hill and administration staffers required to enter health care exchanges. (There's more detail on that proposal in an earlier post).
A veteran of the 1995-96 government shutdowns that haunt many Republicans, Smith said he did not think the party would suffer a backlash if they explained this fight to the public.
Democrats have said Republicans are “blackmailing” the administration by seeking concessions for passing spending a bill to keep the government running.
“Keeping the people’s government open is not a concession to me … it’s our basic responsibility,” Obama said in a speech.
“You don’t get to extract a ransom for doing your job – for doing what you’re supposed to be doing anyway, or just because there’s a law there that you don’t like," Obama said.
Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) said Republicans are “trying to elicit what they couldn’t achieve at the ballot box” and that “to put a gun to people’s head simply is not acceptable.”
“This is a law passed by the Congress, signed by the president upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States and reaffirmed by the American people in their re-election of the president,” Menendez said on MSNBC. “At a certain point that is democracy in action.”