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In Western swing, Obama goes on offensive over healthcare law

By Reuters 27 November 2013

Almost two weeks ago, President Barack Obama, looking down, walked into the White House briefing room and apologized for the flawed rollout of his healthcare reform law. By Jeff Mason.

That picture of a chastened leader now appears to be gone.

During a three-day Western swing through Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles, Obama touted the accomplishments of his signature law, popularly known as Obamacare, and promised the glitches were going away.

Although he occasionally referred pejoratively to the “darn” website, HealthCare.gov, he made a point of shifting his message to the positive benefits his law had achieved and piling on Republicans for rooting for its failure.

“Yes, we decided to fix a broken healthcare system,” Obama told workers at DreamWorks Animation on Tuesday, the final day of his trip.

“I was talking to some of the studio execs here and I said, ‘You know the rollout of the healthcare marketplace was rough’ … and yet here in California and here across this state, there are thousands of people who are getting healthcare for the first time – for the first time – because of this.”

The administration has promised the website will be working for the vast majority of Americans by the end of this month, and White House officials continue to express confidence that goal will be achieved.

“The website is continually working better, so check it out,” Obama said to laughter from the crowd.

Democrats are suffering in the polls because of the shaky rollout just as they are trying to keep control of the U.S. Senate and recapture the House of Representatives from Republicans in the 2014 elections.

Obama, who has said he feels personally responsible that the law has made things difficult for his fellow Democrats, adopted a more assertive tone when discussing it with donors and supporters – signaling he hoped his fellow party members would follow suit.

“We’re going to continue to implement the healthcare law. The product is good, people want it and we should not live in a country where people are going bankrupt just because they get sick,” he said.

“And anybody who is going to keep on pushing against that, they will meet my resistance because I am willing to fix any problems that there are, but I am not going to abandon people to make sure that they have got health insurance in this country.”

FILM INDUSTRY BRIGHT SPOT

The DreamWorks Animation studio is famous for the “Shrek” animated films and is led by one of Obama’s top political donors, Jeffrey Katzenberg.

The White House said DreamWorks was not chosen because of Katzenberg’s financial support.

Obama also met with a who’s who of film industry leaders, including the chief executives of Lionsgate Entertainment , Twentieth Century Fox Film, The Walt Disney Co , and Warner Brothers.

Obama highlighted the entertainment industry as a “bright spot” in the growing U.S. economy. During their meeting, the group also discussed piracy and intellectual property rights, a White House spokesman said.

After arriving, Obama toured parts of the studio, including a visit with actors Steve Martin and Jim Parsons, who are voicing lead characters in an upcoming alien film called “Home.”

Obama referred to Martin having played banjo at the White House.

“The fact that I played banjo at the White House for the president of the United States was the biggest thrill of his life,” Martin quipped. DM

Photo: U.S. President Barack Obama looks on while delivering remarks to workers on the economy at DreamWorks Animation in Glendale, California, November 26, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed

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