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Obama calls GOP health law tactics ‘blackmail’

LARGO, Md. – President Obama said he won’t back down against Republicans trying to block his health-care law and said threats to tie their effort to raising the nation’s debt ceiling amount to “blackmail.”

With five days until enrollment begins, Obama said the Republicans in Congress are becoming increasingly “irresponsible” in opposing the law.

“The Affordable Care Act is here to stay,” the president said Thursday at Prince George’s Community College in this Washington suburb.

“I will not negotiate on anything when it comes to the full faith and credit of the United States,” he said.

It was Obama’s second public appearance this week in a campaign to get millions of uninsured people to sign up for coverage through exchanges during a six-month period starting Tuesday.

At the same time, Republicans are stepping up their attempts to strip funding for or delay the law’s implementation.

No Congress has tried “to threaten an economic shutdown, to suggest America not pay its bills just to try to blackmail a president into giving them some concessions on issues that have nothing to do with the budget,” Obama said.

He told his audience that a guarantee of health care is crucial to making sure middle-income Americans prosper.

“There are few things more fundamental to the economic security of the middle class – and everyone who’s trying to get into the middle class – than health care,” the president said.

Government-run health insurance exchanges, the cornerstone of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, open their doors for sales of subsidized bronze, silver, gold or platinum policies, with correspondingly higher costs, on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, in the latest setback for the rollout of Obamacare, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday that small businesses in 36 states can’t enroll their workers into health coverage through the new federally run insurance marketplaces until at least Nov. 1 – one month later than previously announced.

The delay appears to be the result of computer and information technology problems in the Small Business Health Option Program, known as SHOP, an online insurance marketplace specifically for small employers.