Speaking to House Democrats gathered for a policy retreat at the Hyatt Regency in Cambridge, Md., Obama touted the most recent data on Obamacare enrollment numbers, saying the 3.3 million Americans who have signed up as of the end of January slightly exceeded administration targets for the first time.
“We're starting to see data already that the number of uninsured is decreasing,” he said. “We are going to keep pushing on this [to make sure that] here in America that people can have the kind of security and peace of mind that health insurance provides.”
"I just want to say thank you for all of you hanging in there tough on an issue that I think 10 years from now, five years from now, we're going to look back and say this was a monumental achievement that could not have happened had it not been for this caucus," he said.
Throughout a tumultuous fall rollout of the Affordable Care Act's online exchanges, many House Democrats continued to support the law while several vulnerable Senate Democrats vocally criticized its implementation and launched efforts to try to change it.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was lampooned for an appearance on "The Daily Show" when she repeatedly said she didn't know why the healthcare.gov website was so deeply flawed. Even though Jon Stewart and others skewered her over that response, she limited her criticism of the rollout and stuck to the script -- that the House had worked hard to pass a bill that helps the uninsured.
Obama also took a victory lap on Congress' passing of a debt-ceiling increase with the support of Republican leaders this week.
“The fact that we are no longer going to see anybody try to hold our government hostage in order to extract policy concessions – the fact that we were able to pass a clean debt limit – is just one example of why when you guys stick together, this country is better off,” he said.
During the short remarks, the president also touted his executive action to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors and the need for Congress to pass a minimum-wage increase for all American workers.
He said the positive reaction he received when meeting with government workers Thursday who would see their pay increased by his action reminded him why he is a Democrat.
“To see what it would mean to them for us to have a federal minimum wage and how much relief that would give them and how committed they were to the American dream and getting ahead and just hoping someone was standing up for them - it reminded me why I am a Democrat,” he said.