That his health care law remained so contentious in Congress three years after he signed it was not lost on Obama. Visibly rankled by Republicans' continued efforts to gut the law and use a shutdown as leverage, Obama denounced House Republicans for what he called an "ideological crusade to deny health insurance to millions of Americans."
"This shutdown is not about deficits, it's not about budgets," Obama said. "It's about rolling back our efforts to provide health insurance to folks who don't have it. It's about rolling back the Affordable Care Act."
"This, more than anything else, seems to be what the Republican Party stands for these days," he added.
Obama's other message to Americans: Shutdown or not, the exchanges remain open. That's because funding for much of the Affordable Care Act, like other "mandatory" functions such as Social Security, air traffic control and national defense, is protected from the whims of Congress.
"It is settled, and it is here to stay," Obama said.
Obama was also deploying top deputies Tuesday to spread the message of newly available health care coverage, the White House said. Vice President Joe Biden will appear on college radio stations. First lady Michelle Obama is publishing an editorial on a women's lifestyle website. And senior Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett and other officials will be guests on African-American radio shows.
Associated Press writer Nedra Pickler contributed to this report.
Reach Josh Lederman at http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP
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