Republican congressmen from Mississippi probably are wishing for the impossible when they say they want President Barack Obama to use his State of the Union speech on Tuesday to acknowledge the Affordable Care Act is a failure and should be abandoned.
First District Rep. Alan Nunnelee noted Obama already modified specific provisions of the law through waivers and executive orders.
“By his actions, he’s shown that implementing Obamacare is a train wreck,” Nunnelee said. “I would hope that the president would come to Congress and say, ‘Look we a made mistake with Obamacare. Let’s get it off the books and start over again.’ ”
The president has acknowledged the problems with the rollout of the health care law, including the massive technical glitches that affected the federal HealthCare.gov online insurance exchange during its first months. But he remains committed to the health care law’s continued implementation.
“As challenging as this may seem sometimes, as frustrating as HealthCare.gov may be sometimes, we are going to get this done,” he said in November. “We’re on the right side of history.”
In his speech Tuesday, he is expected to talk about raising the minimum wage, addressing income inequality in the country, reforming the immigration system and other issues.
Obama has promised to veto any legislation that would defund or delay the health care law.
Nunnelee said Obama’s “actions have acknowledged that all the delays, the waivers, the executive orders show it’s not ready for prime time.”
Republicans have tried more than 40 times to repeal or modify the 2010 health care law.
“The president should abandon his Affordable Care Act and invite congressional Republican leaders to propose alternatives,” Republican Sen. Thad Cochran said in a statement.
Rep. Bennie Thompson, the Mississippi delegation’s lone Democrat, said he expects Obama to use his State of the Union speech to tout the law, which Thompson said will benefit many of his constituents in the 2nd Congressional District.
“It’s being implemented, not as fast as some would want, but nonetheless, it’s the law of the land,” Thompson said.
Thompson, the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, said he wants Obama’s speech to detail plans for fighting the war on terrorism and getting U.S. soldiers out of Afghanistan.
“We’ve spent over $1 trillion and we’ve lost over 6,000 people,” Thompson said.
He also said it’s important for Obama to explain how the country can work with allies to continue fighting terrorism, “not as the primary policeman, but (by) forming a partnership with them so that we share the costs.”
Nunnelee also said Obama should promote policies to boost the economy, which he said has been “relatively stagnant” for the last five years.
Republican Sen. Roger Wicker agreed, saying the administration should lessen burdens on businesses.
“The president has been in office for more than five years, yet the economy has failed to make a lasting rebound,” Wicker said in a statement. “Many have been forced to take part-time work or have left the labor force completely. Families are dealing with the backlash of canceled insurance policies, higher premiums, and fewer choices because of his costly health care law. It is increasingly more difficult for small businesses to pay for government mandates and keep Americans at work. The president needs to realize that government intrusion is hurting job creation.”
Third District Rep. Gregg Harper said the Republican-controlled House has proposed several measures to improve the economy.
“If the president is serious about boosting jobs and strengthening our economy, I urge him to call on his Democratic colleagues in the Senate to act on the number of pro-growth bills the House has already sent to them,” he said in a statement.
Thompson said he’s certain Obama will try to set a bipartisan tone in his speech, even if many lawmakers in the chamber aren’t receptive.
“Whether it matters with the majority in that room — it will resonate with the majority of the people in America,’’ Thompson said. “That’s what’s more important.’’
Republicans say a bipartisan tone won’t hide Obama’s practice of using executive orders to bypass Congress.
Obama has a “serious credibility issue” with Americans and should work to regain their trust, said 4th District Rep. Steven Palazzo.
“I don’t think they’re interested in hearing the president talk about taking up his pen and phone to push policies through executive order,” Palazzo said in a statement. “Until and unless he is able to build back lost trust … many of his proposals will fall on deaf ears.”
Obama and Democrats say the executive orders are necessary as a response to Republican obstructionism in Congress.
“I want to work with Congress whenever and wherever I can, but the one thing I’m emphasizing to all my Cabinet members is we’re not going to wait,” Obama told mayors at the White House Thursday.
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