President Barack Obama will try to shift the national conversation to economic growth from unhappiness over insurance policy cancellations under his signature healthcare law as he visits the Port of New Orleans.
The day after Obama said in a nationally televised interview he was sorry some Americans were dropped by their health plans because of changes mandated by the Affordable Care Act, he will tour a busy cargo and cruise ship port, the White House said.
He will again deliver the message that the United States should spend more on its roads, bridges and ports as a way to expand jobs and strengthen U.S. firms through increased trade.
His remarks will come on the day the government releases a jobs report for October, which is expected to show U.S. employers added 125,000 positions in the month.
That number was likely half as much as employers would have added if not for the 16-day government shutdown in October, the White House has estimated.
The administration has drummed home the point the economy would be growing more rapidly and job growth would be more robust without the shutdown, prompted by Republican efforts to defund or delay the healthcare law, known as Obamacare.
The White House budget office issued a report cataloguing ways in which the shutdown had hurt individuals and businesses.
The Mississippi River port will give an Obama an appropriate setting to talk about his proposal to spend $50 billion to repair and upgrade the nation’s infrastructure and efforts to expand trade.
The president “believes that exports are central to our national economy and has made increasing exports a major focus for his administration,” the White House said in a statement.
But Obama’s efforts to press Congress for more spending to strengthen economic growth will be overshadowed by lingering questions about Obamacare.
The botched rollout of the online signup mechanism for insurance was the first major problem for the program, which aims to extend access to healthcare for millions of uninsured Americans by offering insurance at competitive prices.
A second snag has been a spate of insurance cancellations despite Obama’s pledge that consumers could keep their existing health plans if they wanted them.
The setbacks have given ammunition to the law’s many foes and skeptics and raised doubts whether the healthcare plans can attract enough healthy young people to keep the costs of insurance low.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican, will be at the port when Obama delivers his remarks. But Jindal made clear his disagreement with Obama on healthcare and other issues.
“Obamacare is not smart policy and will not work,” he said. “The website is merely the tip of the iceberg here.”
Jindal also took issue with Obama’s prescription for more spending to repair infrastructure.
“We keep increasing spending, adding entitlements, adding regulations, and adding taxes,” Jindal said. “If the president wants to grow the American economy, he’s got to force government to do just the opposite.” (Reuters)