Obama tries to reassure Americans as he pushes for Syria strike

President Obama continued pushing members of Congress to authorize U.S. military action in Syria on Saturday, insisting that the United States must respond to evidence that the Syrian government, under President Bashar Assad, killed almost 1,500 civilians in a chemical attack.

"We can't ignore chemical weapons attacks like this one, even if they happen halfway around the world," he said during his weekly address. "And that's why I call on members of Congress, from both parties, to come together and stand up for the kind of world we want to live in; the kind of world we want to leave our children and future generations."

He reassured an American public that remains largely opposed to the proposed strike on Syria that "we're not putting our troops in the middle of somebody else's war."

"This would not be another Iraq or Afghanistan," he said. "There would be no American boots on the ground. Any action we take would be limited, both in time and scope - designed to deter the Syrian government from gassing its own people again and degrade its ability to do so."

As he has before, the president warned that a failure to act would pose a "serious threat" to America's national security by encouraging other bad actors to defy the international consensus prohibiting the use of chemical weapons.

"We cannot turn a blind eye to images like the ones we've seen out of Syria," he said. "Failing to respond to this outrageous attack would increase the risk that chemical weapons could be used again; that they would fall into the hands of terrorists who might use them against us, and it would send a horrible signal to other nations that there would be no consequences for their use of these weapons."

Mr. Obama, who returned to Washington late Friday evening after participating in the global G-20 economic summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, has his work cut out for him as he attempts to persuade members of Congress to back his call for military action in Syria.

The Senate Foreign Relations committee narrowly advanced a resolution on Wednesday authorizing the use of force, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., formally filed the resolution in the Senate on Friday, teeing up a likely vote on final passage next week.

Reid has predicted the resolution will pass, despite the intense opposition from liberal Democrats and libertarian-aligned Republicans. But even if it clears the Senate, it moves to the House thereafter, where its road to passage is far more precarious.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., have each declared their support for the president's proposal, but the rank-and-file in their respective parties remain deeply skeptical. Far more lawmakers have declared support than opposition, signaling a tough road ahead for the administration's effort to persuade a majority of lawmakers to sign onto the resolution.

In the weekly Republican address on Saturday, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., continued beating the drum in opposition to Obamacare, warning that the law's insurance exchanges, which open on October 1, will be more expensive than consumers expect.

"Many families are going to have real sticker shock when they see their new insurance rates - even families who get government subsidies," he warned.

There is evidence to suggest that the law's insurance exchanges will be cheaper than expected, however. The Kaiser Family Foundation, which Barrasso recognizes as "nonpartisan" in his address, released a report on Thursday that found that, in Obamacare's insurance exchanges, "premiums will vary significantly across the country," but "they are generally lower than expected."

Barrasso said the law fails to address America's looming shortage of doctors and nurses. He also criticized the administration's campaign to publicize and popularize the law, including a recent speech given by former President Bill Clinton touting the law's benefits.

"Americans want real solutions to bring down the cost of health care, not more press releases and propaganda," he said. "We know what the law does, and in just a few weeks, we know it's going to start hitting middle class Americans even harder."

  • Jake Miller

Comments