President Obama trumpets victory for health law
WASHINGTON — Mocking his critics, President Obama boasted Tuesday that 7.1 million people have signed up for his health care law, an unexpected comeback after a disastrous rollout sent his poll numbers plummeting and stirred fears among Democrats facing reelection this fall.
‘‘The debate over repealing this law is over,’’ he declared. It’s ‘‘here to stay.’’
But the late enrollment surge may do little to change the political dynamics heading into the midterm elections, particularly for Democrats running in conservative states where the health law and the president himself remain deeply unpopular.
Even Obama’s advisers acknowledge that the public’s views on the law are unlikely to shift significantly between now and November.
Still, with millions of people now receiving health benefits under the law, Democrats see an opportunity to undercut Republicans still pushing to repeal it. And GOP lawmakers, wary of overplaying their political hand, are indeed grappling with whether to press forward with repeal or narrow their focus on replacing the law with different health measures.
In a preview of his party’s midterm messaging, Obama declared Tuesday that while the health law isn’t perfect, it is ‘‘here to stay.’’
‘‘Why are folks working so hard for people to not have health insurance? Why are they so mad about the idea of people having health insurance?’’ he asked a group of administration officials and supportive members of Congress in the White House Rose Garden.
Underscoring his point, Obama quoted from letters he said he had received from people helped by the law. But Republicans responded in a new round of their own quotes from people complaining about rapidly rising rates.
‘‘The band may be playing in the White House, but hearts aren’t light for Americans struggling to afford Obamacare’s higher costs,’’ said a release from the Senate Republican Communications Center.