As the U.S. House of Representatives debates this week whether to repeal the Obama administration’s health care overhaul, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs remains optimistic that such legislative maneuvering will yield few actual results.
In a phone conference with college reporters Tuesday, Gibbs, who will step down to become an outside political adviser to President Obama amid a shake-up of White House staff, said that the conservative-driven push for health care repeal in the lower house is not in the interests of the American public.
“In these economic times, now is not the time to take a step back,” Gibbs said. “The president is willing to listen to improvements (to the bill), but let’s not throw the benefits out when we have a great foundation.”
Gibbs used his time with reporters to stump for key portions of the bill. The points that Gibbs placed emphasis on during the 30-minute conference included those that allow young Americans to stay on their parents’ health plan until they turn 26 and prohibit health insurance companies from raising the rates or denying Americans with pre-existing conditions.
“Until you become a little more stable in your job, the president believes the best way to maintain that stability is to stay on your parents’ health care.”
In response to charges that the bill would hinder job growth and pile on to the national deficit, Gibbs said that if the bill was repealed, between 250,000 and 400,000 jobs would be lost in a year.
He acknowledged and expressed gratitude for GOP lawmakers toning down the rhetoric by referring to the bill as “job-destroying” as opposed to “job-killing” in the wake of the Arizona shootings.
“I think everyone is smart to take a step back in these debates,” he said.
When asked about certain states, including Florida, that had filed suit against the health care bill and whether the bill would emerge intact after being entangled in the courts, Gibbs said that despite the “legal sideshow,” the Obama administration was confident that the bill would be upheld.
“We are confident in the way the law was written,” Gibbs said. “We’re quite confident the law will be shown to be constitutional.”