TIME Obamacare

Republicans Rip Obama’s ‘Mission Accomplished Moment’

President Obama Speaks About New Health Care Act
President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden, speaks about the Affordable Care Act in the Rose Garden. Brooks Kraft—Corbis

The president's Obamacare victory lap in the Rose Garden on Tuesday will 'come back to bite him', says Sen. John Cornyn, as Republicans insist the thorny debate over the healthcare law will continue

Republicans doubled down on their message to repeal and replace Obamacare Wednesday, even after the White House announced Tuesday that more than 7 million Americans have enrolled in health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act. Republicans at the Capitol Wednesday warned of skyrocketing premiums for those displaced from their old coverage.

“This is President Obama’s Mission Accomplished moment,” Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn told TIME, referring to former President George W. Bush’s infamous 2003 moment declaring an end to major combat operations in Iraq. “I think it’s going to come back and bite him later on.”

In its weekly House Republican leadership press conference, Majority Leader Eric Cantor delivered an “Obamacare is not a success” refrain, meant for those “millions who lost their health care policy that they liked” and “those families who want to see the doctors they want to see, not what Washington wants them to see.” Fewer than a million people who had health plans in 2013 are now uninsured because their plans were canceled for not meeting the law’s standards, according to a Rand survey shared with the Los Angeles Times.

The 7.1 million figure beat what congressional budget analysts had thought possible after the disastrous roll-out of the online federal insurance marketplace HealthCare.gov, and exceeded even the White House’s original self-imposed target. The president took the numbers as proof the Affordable Care Act is here to stay. “The debate over repealing this law is over,” announced Obama in the Rose Garden to a standing ovation.

House Speaker John Boehner repeated his call for a conservative replacement to the Affordable Care Act on Wednesday, emphasizing that the Republican Party is one of alternatives, not opposition. “Our job is to show the American people we have better solutions,” said Boehner. “We’re working to build a consensus to do that, and when we have something to talk about, we’ll show you.”

But Republicans are aware that Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will protect the law for as long as they are in office. “Do you think Reid is going to allow us a vote on them?” asked Cornyn rhetorically of his party’s Obamacare alternative proposals. “I don’t think so. So maybe January.”

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