White House steps up efforts to defend Obamacare 

Amid new polling that shows Americans prefer compromise to battle in Congress, the White House is stepping up efforts to thwart a Republican attempt to repeal health care reform.

A USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday found 80 percent believe President Obama should work to pass legislation on various matters that Democrats and Republicans can agree on. Just 32 percent want the health care reform law dismantled.

Congress this week returns to work after a weeklong pause following the recent shooting rampage in Tucson. House Republicans plan to begin debating repeal of health care, Obama's top legislative achievement.

"Republicans care about health care," said House Republican Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia. "We simply disagree that excessive government regulation and sweeping mandates on individuals and businesses are the right way to go about it."

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs dismissed the repeal effort as "a bit of huff and puff," saying implementation of the law Obama signed last year will proceed.

Even so, within the White House a feeling persists that the administration hasn't done a good job of explaining and selling health care reform. Responding to the repeal effort is one way to continue that effort, while trying to blunt any Republican momentum on the issue.

To that end, the White House began circulating a roundup of negative news reports on the repeal effort, seeking to portray Republicans as out of step with American priorities.

Organizing for America, Obama's political operation inside the Democratic Party, is calling on lawmakers to oppose the repeal.

The Democratic National Committee and the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank with close ties to the administration, are hosting conference calls with journalists ahead of the debate to highlight negative consequences of repeal.

"The results are fairly staggering and very clear," said David Cutler, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

According to Cutler's analysis, repealing health care reform would cost between 250,000 to 400,000 jobs, raise health insurance premiums by as much as 90 percent, reduce family income and suppress economic growth, among other consequences.

The White House also is circulating a report by the Congressional Budget Office estimating that repealing the law would add $230 billion to the federal deficit in 10 years.

Pushing back against Republican claims that health care reform is a "jobs killer," the administration is highlighting improvements to the economy since the bill was signed -- including one million private-sector jobs created and improved consumer confidence.

Cantor said the Congressional Budget Office estimates are flawed because the bill includes tricks and "gimmicks" to hide the true costs of reform.

jmason@washingtonexaminer.com

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