WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama Thursday defended his signature healthcare law as his Republican rivals endeavored to defund and delay the implementation of the law at the risk of a government shutdown, and the public remained wary of the law's impact.
"Five days from now -- on Oct. 1st, millions of Americans who don't have health insurance because they've been priced out of the market or because they've been denied access because of a preexisting condition, they will finally be able to buy quality, affordable health insurance," Obama Thursday made an emotional appeal to Americans during a speech in the U.S. state of Maryland.
Americans in different states without health insurance can begin signing up for coverage through online marketplaces named "exchanges" set by governments, under the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.
Americans have a six-month enrollment period for exchanges if they want to avoid a fine for not buying insurance, according to the law.
"Obamacare" passed both houses of Congress and was signed into law in 2010. The Supreme Court ruled it constitutional last year, Obama stressed.
Aimed at helping about 30 million uninsured Americans to get coverage,Obamacare faces bumpy road five days before it is implemented.
Despite the Supreme Court's ruling that Obamacare is constitutional, Republicans lawmakers have voted more than 40 times to undermine or repeal it, largely unsuccessfully.
As it is nearing a deadline to pass a government funding bill and raise the government's borrowing capacity, the Republican Party (GOP) leaders decided to tie the implementation of Obamacare with giving green light to the fiscal wrangle, risking a government shutdown next month or a debt default crisis.
U.S. Republicans know they will never reverse President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, but their leaders may opt to delay the law's implementation in a bid to shore up their conservative base before the 2014 mid-term Congressional elections.
Top Republican leaders of U.S. House of Representatives said Thursday that they would tie increasing the government's borrowing capacity with a long list of GOP policy priorities including a one-year delay of Obamacare.
"The closer we've gotten to this date, the more irresponsible folks who are opposed to this law have become," charged Obama, referring to some Republican lawmakers.
"Some have threatened a government shutdown if they can't shut down this law. Others have actually threatened an economic shutdown by refusing to pay America's bills if they can't delay the law," Obama said.
The Republican-led House last week passed a stopgap spending bill, which was championed by the conservatives, to fund the government through Dec. 15 while prohibiting funding to implement Obamacare. Without the approval of a spending bill before Oct. 1, the first day of the 2014 fiscal year, U.S. federal government will have a partial shutdown.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew Wednesday told congressional leaders that the Treasury Department will run out of borrowing capacity no later than Oct. 17, urging Congress to raise the debt limit in a timely manner.
The fiscal fight is "highly counterproductive" and it is about the debt ceiling and Obamacare, where right-wing Republicans who oppose Obamacare, but are unable to overturn it are using the debt ceiling and the threat of default to elicit an Administration climbdown over Obamacare, said Barry Eichengreen, a professor at University of California, Berkeley.
"This obviously won't get them what they want, and it threatens to do very real damage to the economy," Eichengreen told Xinhua.
Eichengreen's view is echoed by other economists. "Harsh political vitriol, threats of shutting down the government, and the possibility of not fulfilling the government's financial obligations have weighed heavily on the collective psyche," Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, said during a hearing at Senate Budget Committee Tuesday.
"The U.S. economy remains frustratingly far from full employment. While there are many reasons for this, political brinkmanship around the federal budget and Treasury debt ceiling has been a significant contributing factor," Zandi warned.
The fiscal fight consuming Washington right now has spooked investors, with Standard & Poor's 500-stock Index registering a five-day losing streak by Wednesday, its longest slump this year.
U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at a sub-par annual rate of 2.5 percent in the second quarter this year, Thursday figures from the Commerce Department revealed. The growth rate is not robust enough to help create a large number of high-paying jobs and make a meaningful dent in the unemployment rate hovering at 7.3 percent.
The U.S. Federal Reserve on Sept. 18 surprised investors by delaying the long-debated tapering of its current monthly 85-billion-dollar bond buying program, citing U.S. fiscal policy uncertainty as a major headwind.
As the clock is ticking down to the opening of exchanges, public support for Obamacare is on the wane. A CNN/ORC International poll released earlier this month showed that only 39 percent of Americans have a favorable view of all or most provisions of Obamacare, down from 51 percent in January, fresh evidence that Obama has a tough public relations war to win.
WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 (Xinhua) -- The United States is edging closer to a government shutdown as U.S. Congress remains too divided to cut a deal just days before the deadline.
The legislature, analysts say, is stuck in a game of political brinkmanship, with both Democrats and Republicans bent on dragging out the issue in a bid to gain concessions from the other side. Full story
WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 (Xinhua) -- Top Republican leaders of U.S. House of Representatives said Thursday that they would tie increasing the government's borrowing capacity with a long list of economic reforms and party priorities, saying the world's largest economy has a debt problem.
House Republican lawmakers will tie important spending cuts and pro-growth reforms with a debt limit increase, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner said at a Thursday press conference. Full story
WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 (Xinhua) -- Americans' support for the Tea Party has plunged in the lead-up to yet another budget battle that could spark a government shutdown, according to a Gallup poll released Thursday.
Twenty-two percent of Americans now say they support the Tea Party, whereas 32 percent of Americans supported the party at the height of its popularity in November 2010, days after Republicans captured the majority in the House. Full story