With hugs, laughs and good-natured ribbing, Barack Obama on Tuesday returned to the White House for the first time in more than five years to savor the 12th anniversary of his signature health care law and give a boost to President Joe Biden’s efforts to expand it.
The Affordable Care Act has survived repeated repeal attempts by Republicans.
Biden, who was Obama’s No. 2 when “Obamacare” became law in March 2010, wants to extend the law’s reach to even more than the current millions. He gave all the credit for the original law to the former president.
“It’s because of you,” Biden said after good-naturedly introducing himself as Obama’s vice president. Biden said the law “shows hope leads to change,” a play on Obama’s “hope and change” campaign slogan.
Obama was last at the White House on Jan. 20, 2017, when he left to escort Donald Trump, the successor bent on overturning the law, to the Capitol to be inaugurated. He spent more than four hours Wednesday meeting with Biden and greeting White House staff in what was hoped would be a morale boost for the administration.
“It’s good to be back in the White House. It’s been awhile,” he said after Vice President Kamala Harris introduced him in the East Room. Obama opened by referring to Biden as “vice president” before acknowledging that was a “set up” joke and embracing his former No. 2.
Obama said he and Biden accomplished “a lot” in their eight years but “nothing made me prouder than providing better health care and more protections to millions of people across this country.”