Pawlenty Backs Off Nullification

By Jacqueline Klingebiel

Sep 13, 2009 11:47am

On 'This Week', Minn. Governor Tim Pawlenty backed away from earlier statements suggesting he'd invoke the 10th Amendment to block Obama's health care reforms if they pass the Congress.

On Thursday, Pawlenty argued that Minnesota and other states might move to "nullify" Obama's health care plan.

"Depending on what the federal government comes out with here, asserting the 10th Amendment may be a viable option, but we don't know the details," said Pawlenty.

The Governor also raised the possibility of filing Tenth Amendment lawsuits.

But when I asked about those comments today, Pawlenty said he was suggesting a "political" not a "legal" effort.

GEORGE: After the speech on Thursday night, you suggested perhaps invoking the Tenth Amendment, which reserves powers to the states, if indeed this does pass.  What exactly are you saying?  There is a movement to actually nullify health care if it passes?

PAWLENTY:  Well, George, in the legal sense, I think the courts have addressed these Tenth Amendment issues, but more in the political sense, in the common sense arena, we need to have a clear understanding of what the federal government does well and what should be reserved to the states. 

"We have essentially Obamacare that's been deployed in two states in major ways. One is in Tennessee.  We have a Democratic governor, Phil Bredesen, said hey, look, we tried this cost savings as a way to fund a major overhaul of health care; it didn't work.  He's in the news this morning saying, you know, don't go down that path.

"We have another state, Massachusetts, who tried essentially the same thing. They have the most expensive health care in the country. They have increasing waiting lines, and it's not working."

STEPHANOPOULOS:  So just to be clear, are you suggesting that any parts of the plan as the president has laid it out are unconstitutional?

PAWLENTY:  Well, I wouldn't go so far as to say it's a legal issue.  I was raising it as much as a practical matter, that there are some things that the federal government shouldn't do, doesn't do well, and should leave to the states."

Watch the full exchange HERE.

-George Stephanopoulos

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