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During his press conference Friday, President Obama gave the defense of Obamacare many of his supporters have been waiting for:

Now, I think the really interesting question is why it is that my friends in the other party have made the idea of preventing these people from getting health care their holy grail. Their number one priority, the one unifying principle in the Republican Party at the moment is making sure that 30 million people don’t have health care. And presumably repealing all those benefits I just mentioned: kids staying on their parents’ plan, seniors getting discounts on their prescription drugs, a return to lifetime limits on insurance, people with preexisting conditions continuing to get blocked from health care insurance.

That’s hard to understand as an agenda that’s going to strengthen our middle class. At least they used to say, well, we’re going to replace it with something better. There’s not even a pretense now that they’re going to replace it with something better. The notion is simply that those 30 million people or the 150 million who are benefiting from the other aspects of affordable care, will be better off without it. That’s their assertion. Not backed by fact, not backed by any evidence. It’s just become an ideological fixation.

For years, Republicans have had an advantage as many of the law’s real benefits were scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2014. Anything that went wrong in health care could be blamed on the law while the law’s subtle improvements to the health care system mostly went unnoticed. That changes on October 1 of this year when the law’s open enrollment period finally begins.

Salon‘s Brian Beulter explains how the president can finally make his signature legislative accomplishment a “weapon:”

Uninsurance rates are about to drop quickly. “Repeal” will soon take on a much different meaning. So it’s no coincidence that just as time begins running out for Obamacare’s opponents, Obama himself is suddenly more comfortable turning the issue on them. The ground is shifting under their feet.

It’s this shift in advantage to the president that’s fueling the effort to defund Obamacare that some Republicans are willing to pursue despite the potential political costs — because telling tens of millions of people you’re taking away their health care is much harder than pretending to repeal something 40 percent of Americans aren’t sure is actually a law.

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