President Obama and Bill Clinton wave at the Democratic National Convention.(Photo: H. Darr Beiser, USA TODAY)
Bill Clinton wore his "Secretary of Explaining Stuff" hat on Wednesday to defend President Obama's health care law, arguing that it's time to drop opposition to what Republicans slam as "Obamacare."
"We need all hands on deck here. The health of our people, the security and stability of our families and the strength of our economy are all riding on getting health care reform right and doing it well," Clinton said in remarks at his presidential library in Little Rock. "That means we have to do it together."
The speech by the 42nd president is the first in a series of events planned this fall by the Obama White House aimed at improving public awareness of the law as key provisions take effect. On Oct. 1, open enrollment and health insurance exchanges in states will begin. Those exchanges will help people find and buy insurance coverage.
Clinton outlined why he believes the law will eventually help health care costs go down and give more people greater access to insurance coverage. He took a step-by-step approach, going through everything in the law from who gets covered to how exchanges work and what still needs to be improved.
"It's better than the current system," Clinton said. "This gives us the best chance we've had to achieve nearly universal coverage ... provide higher quality health care and limit cost increases."
Republicans generally view the law as a costly government intrusion into people's lives. The Tea Party movement and congressional allies, such as Sen. Mike Lee of Utah and Ted Cruz of Texas, have spent the summer drumming up support to withhold funding to implement the Affordable Care Act.
These lawmakers say they are prepared to vote against any bill to fund the government that doesn't bar spending for the health care law - even if it prompts a government shutdown.
Throughout Clinton's remarks, the Republican National Committee sent out tweets criticizing the health care law with the hashtag #Obamacosts. One example: "Obamacare isn't working and it is costing Americans across the country," the RNC said.
It's not the first time that Obama has turned to Clinton, with whom he once had a frosty relationship, to help him explain policies and garner public support.
Clinton was a vigorous campaigner for Obama in the 2012 election and delivered a forceful speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2012 arguing why Obama was worthy of a second term. Obama joked afterward that he should appoint his predecessor the "Secretary of Explaining Stuff" and the moniker stuck.