President Barack Obama mocked Republicans' campaign to try to repeal his new health care law, saying Thursday they should "Go for it" and see how well they fare with voters.
"Be my guest," Obama said in prepared remarks for the first of many appearances around the country to sell the overhaul to voters before the fall congressional elections. "I welcome that fight. Because I don't believe the American people are going to put the insurance industry back in the driver's seat."
With emotions raw around the nation over the party-line vote to approve the nearly $1 trillion, 10-year law, Obama took the opposition to task for "fear-mongering and overheated rhetoric."
"If you turn on the news, you'll see that those same folks are still shouting about how the world will end because we passed this bill," said Obama, appearing before thousands in this college town where he first, as a presidential candidate three years ago, unveiled his health care proposals. The White House released the text of his speech in advance.
No Republican lawmakers voted for the overhaul, a sweeping package that will change how almost every American will receive and pay for medical treatment. Many in the GOP are predicting it will prove devastating in November for the Democrats who voted for it.
But the president stressed the notion of a promise kept, saying the legislation he signed into law on Tuesday is evidence he will do as he said. "This is the place where change began," Obama said.
The White House suggests it has the upper hand against Republicans politically, arguing the GOP risks a voter backlash because a repeal would take away from small businesses and individuals the benefits provided to them immediately under the new law.
"We've been there already and we're not going back," Obama said.
Obama spoke as Democrats in Washington raced to complete the overhaul with a separate package of fixes to the main bill.
Senate leaders had planned to finish work on the fix-it legislation, already approved in the House, by midday Thursday. But Republican attempts to derail the process resulted in minor changes to the bill, which means the House will have to vote on it again before it can go to Obama for his signature.
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