The groundswell of opposition to President Obama’s health-care reform plan – adopted by Congress only two weeks ago and already the target of concerted repeal campaigns – is forcing the president to continue to campaign for the law.

And along the way, he’s made a little fun of his critics.

Protesters opposing ‘Obamacare’ during the president’s visit to Maine to stump for his program

“There has been plenty of fear-mongering and overheated rhetoric,” he told a crowd of supporters in the Portland, Maine, Expo Center this week. “And if you turn on the news, you’ll see that those same folks are still shouting about how the world will end because we passed this bill.

“This is not an exaggeration,” Obama said.

“Leaders of the Republican Party have actually been calling the passage of this bill ‘Armageddon.’ They say it’s the end of freedom as we know it,” he continued.

“So after I signed the bill, I looked up to see if there were any asteroids headed our way. I checked to see if any cracks had opened up in the ground. But you know what? It turned out to be a pretty nice day,” Obama said.

“Obamacare,” as the program has been dubbed by critics, requires citizens  to purchase private insurance approved by the government or be fined. Lawmakers who supported it refused to include a provision banning tax funding for abortions, and it requires the hiring of 16,000 additional Internal Revenue Service agents to enforce the penalties it is expected to create.

Listen to those to oppose “Obamacare:”

Obama called the program “a middle of the road solution to our health care problems,” even though every GOP member in the U.S. House opposed it.

“It’s not the single-payer, government-run system that some on the left have supported in the past. And it’s not what many on the right wanted, which was even fewer rules and regulations for insurance companies,” Obama said.

He remained convinced it was a “bi-partisan” plan.

“This reform incorporates ideas from Democrats and Republicans – including some from your senator and my friend, Olympia Snowe, who spent many hours meeting with me about this bill. What this reform does is build on the system of private health insurance that we already have,” Obama said.

Protesters opposing ‘Obamacare’ during the president’s visit to Maine to stump for his program

“If you already have insurance, this reform will make it more secure and more affordable. If you can’t afford insurance or have been denied coverage, you’ll finally be able to get it. And over time, costs will come down for families, businesses, and the federal government, reducing our deficit by more than $1 trillion over the next two decades. That’s what reform will do,” Obama said.

His assertions, however, conflicted with various analyses that concluded the plan’s cost will not be the $940 billion as estimated by the Congressional Budget Office, because some funding categories are double-counted and other costs are left out. Other estimates of the program’s cost put it closer to $2.5 trillion.

Outside the building where the president was campaigning, protesters lined up to challenge his statements.

Bob, from Arundel, Maine, said the president – and others – perhaps should start listening to the American public, which by a significant margin in many polls opposes “Obamacare” wholeheartedly.

“I’m here to greet the president and let him know that I’m having some problems with our leadership in Washington. I’d like to see our representatives listen to the people of Maine and realize that this state needs jobs, we don’t need government takeovers,” Bob said.

“We ask them to focus their energies on economic growth rather than a government takeover of every private industry in the state and in the country,” he said.

Another protester who identified herself as Cynthia said all she sees is more and more government.

“The only thing government does is get bigger. It’s a necessary evil that likes to feed itself. The remedy is for the government to begin to go back to our Constitutional republic. We need more personal responsibility, virtue and independence,” Cynthia said.

Liberty Defense League founder Tim Baldwin said that most of the debate over health care missed the constitutional point made by Cynthia. Baldwin said most of the president’s comments were about what people want.

“Obama’s obvious political philosophy expressed here is the same philosophy that has generally been the theme in the federal government for generations, with very little exception: Progressive Socialism – a philosophy which infiltrated American federal politics in the early 1900s. That is, where the government (the federal government, in particular) continually widens its function and power by managing, controlling and regulating whatever industry it deems necessary in the name of ‘helping’ individuals and businesses,” Baldwin said.

“This political philosophy pays little attention to actual limits and boundaries placed on the government by the Constitution. Rather, it seeks to expand its role in society, as if it is the answer to perceived or alleged societal problems,” Baldwin said.

The constitutional issue again arose only hours after Obama’s speech, when Rep. Phil Hare, D-Ill., was caught on tape telling a constituent, “I don’t worry about the Constitution on this, to be honest.”

Baldwin said the justification for expanded federal power is a wide interpretation of the “general welfare” clause in the Constitution’s preamble.

“If one were to point to the constitutional ‘justification’ for this political philosophy, undoubtedly the most prevalent provision would be the power to ‘promote the general welfare’ of the people of America. Alternatively, it’s ‘regulating the commerce among the several states,'” Baldwin said.

“To the Progressive Socialist, if the government deems that its laws and powers can be expanded in the name of and for the sake of ‘providing good’ to people, then that is all that is necessary to justify the force of law,” Baldwin said.

Baldwin, a practicing constitutional lawyer in Florida, said he sees a connection between the “general welfare” clause and another constitutional interpretation.

“The ‘general welfare’ clause closely reflects the ‘living Constitution’ idea, which is advocated by many (if not most) politicians in America. This idea vastly expanded the federal government’s power in the 20th century and now in the 21st,” Baldwin said.

“Quite clearly, Obama justifies this health care law not based upon a clear understanding of what the Constitution provides but rather what the people want, regardless of the powers granted to the federal government and reserved to the people and states respectively,” Baldwin said.

“Unfortunately, Obama is right in this regard: what was once rejected in America as unconstitutional has become accepted as constitutional – not through public debate and then [a] constitutional amendment process, but through the dangerous methods of pure democracy,” Baldwin said.

Presently, at least 37 states have passed or are debating bills to prevent the recently signed federal health care act from applying at that level.

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