The last time the same crew threatened this course of action back in 2011 even the mere suggestion of default slowed our economic growth. Everybody here remembers that. It wasn't that long ago.
Now, keep in mind, initially, the whole argument was we're going to do this because we want to reduce our debt. That doesn't seem to be the focus now. Now the focus is on Obamacare. So let's put this in perspective. The Affordable Care Act has been the law for three and a half years now. It passed both houses of Congress. The Supreme Court ruled it constitutional. It was an issue in last year's election and the candidate who called for repeal lost. (Applause.) Republicans in the House have tried to repeal or sabotage it about 40 times. They've failed every time.
Meanwhile, the law has already helped millions of Americans -- young people who were able to stay on their parents' plan up until the age of 26; seniors who are getting additional discounts on their prescription drugs; ordinary families and small businesses that are getting rebates from insurance companies because now insurance companies have to actually spend money on people's care instead of on administrative costs and CEO bonuses.
A lot of the horror stories that were predicted about how this was going to shoot rates way up and there were going to be death panels and all that stuff -- none of that stuff has happened. And in two weeks, the Affordable Care Act is going to help millions more people. And there's no serious evidence that the law -- which has helped to keep down the rise in health care costs to their lowest level in 50 years -- is holding back economic growth.
So repealing the Affordable Care Act, making sure that 30 million people don't get health insurance, and people with preexisting conditions continue to be locked out of the health insurance market -- that's not an agenda for economic growth. You're not going to meet an economist who says that that's the number-one priority in terms of boosting growth and jobs in this country -- at least not a serious economist.
And I understand I will never convince some Republicans about the merits of Obamacare. I understand that. And I'm more than willing to work with them where they've got specific suggestions that they can show will make our health care system work better. Remember, initially this was like repeal-and-replace, and the replace thing has kind of gone off to the wayside. Now it's just repeal.
But the larger point is, after all that we've been through these past five years, after all the work Americans like those standing behind me have done to come back from the depths of a crisis, are some of these folks really so beholden to one extreme wing of their party that they're willing to tank the entire economy just because they can't get their way on this issue? Are they really willing to hurt people just to score political points? I hope not.
But in case there's any confusion, I will not negotiate over whether or not America keeps its word and meets its obligations. I will not negotiate over the full faith and credit of the United States. This country has worked too hard for too long to dig out of a crisis just to see their elected representatives here in Washington purposely cause another crisis.
Let's stop the threats. Let's stop the political posturing. Let's keep our government open. Let's pay our bills on time. Let's pass a budget. Let's work together to do what the American people sent us here to do: create jobs, grow our economy, expand opportunity. That's what we need to do. (Applause.)
And as far as the budget goes, it's time for responsible Republicans who share these goals -- and there are a number of folks out there who I think are decent folks, I've got some disagreements with them on some issues, but I think genuinely want to see the economy grow and want what's best for the American people -- it's time for those Republicans to step up and they've got to decide what they want to prioritize.
Originally, they said they wanted deficit reduction. As I said before, our deficits are falling fast. The only way to make further long-term progress on deficit reduction that doesn't slow growth is with a balanced plan that includes closing tax loopholes that benefit corporations and the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the middle class. (Applause.) That's the only way to do it.
They said that they wanted entitlement reform -- but their leaders haven't put forward serious ideas that wouldn't devastate Medicare or Social Security. And I've put forward ideas for sensible reforms to Medicare and Social Security and haven't gotten a lot of feedback yet.
They said that they wanted tax reform. Remember? This was just a few months ago -- they said, well, this is going to be one of our top priorities, tax reform. Six weeks ago, I put forward a plan that serious people in both parties should be able to support -- a deal that lowers the corporate tax rate for businesses and manufacturers, simplifies it for small business owners, as long as we use some of the money that we save to invest in the infrastructure our businesses need, and to create more good jobs and with good wages for the middle-class folks who work at those businesses. My position is, if folks in this town want a "grand bargain," how about a grand bargain for middle-class jobs? So I put forward ideas for tax reform -- haven't heard back from them yet.
Congress has a couple of weeks to get this done. If they're focused on what the American people care about -- faster growth, more jobs, better future for our kids -- then I'm confident it will happen. And once we're done with the budget, let's focus on the other things that we know can make a difference for middle-class families -- lowering the cost of college; finishing the job of immigration reform; taking up the work of tax reform to make the system fairer and promoting more investment in the United States.
If we follow the strategy I'm laying out for our entire economy -- and if Washington will just act with the same urgency and common purpose that we felt five years ago -- our economy will be stronger a year from now, five years from now, a decade from now.
That's my priority. All these folks standing behind me, and everybody out there who's listening -- that's my priority. I've run my last election. My only interest at this point is making sure that the economy is moving the way it needs to so that we've got the kind of broad-based growth that has always been the hallmark of this country.
And as long as I've got the privilege of serving as your President, I will spend every moment of every day I have left fighting to restore security and opportunity for the middle class, and to give everyone who works hard a chance to get ahead.
Thank you, everybody. God bless you. God bless America. (Applause.)
Original headline: Remarks by the Presideent at the Five-Year Anniversary of the Financial Crisis
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