ABC News’ Jonathan Karl sat down with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi shortly after the Supreme Court’s ruling Thursday. Pelosi, who was the driving force in Congress behind the passage of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, called the ruling “a total victory.”
The Court’s decision to uphold the individual mandate requiring Americans to buy health insurance or pay a “tax” caught many by surprise mainly because it was conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, not Justice Anthony Kennedy, who joined the court’s liberal wing to cast the deciding vote. Pelosi said she, for one, was not surprised at all.
“I always had confidence that the chief justice would be consistent with the views that he has expressed the extent of the court’s role in judging constitutionality,” Pelosi told ABC News. “He has written about this, and his decision today and the writing of it is consistent with what he has written before.”
Pelosi was quick to point out she didn’t believe Justice Roberts deserved “credit for saving Obamacare,” as some have suggested.
“Credit goes with how the bill was written, and the president was a very major part of that, and the court upheld that,” Pelosi said. “I don’t want to go into personalities but I do think that the chief justice’s decision was consistent with his other writing.”
House Republicans used the court’s ruling as a springboard for another repeal vote, which Majority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va, promised would come on July 9. Pelosi responded by calling Republicans “the handmaidens of the insurance companies.”
“But if they want to … give us an occasion to once again say this is what they want to repeal and go through the benefits that already tens of millions of Americans are enjoying in this legislation, let them do that.”
Pelosi blamed the bill’s lingering unpopularity on a negative ad campaign waged by the insurance companies and Republican obstructionism. And while she conceded the Democrats need to “do a better job selling the bill,” she quickly pivoted back to the opposing party.
“Let’s be fair to the Republicans, they are true to their nature,” she said. ”They do not believe in a government role in any of this. They don’t believe in Medicare and Medicaid. They don’t even believe in Social Security, they had the bill to privatize it, they’re budget severs the guarantee on Medicare. And bless their hearts, they act upon their beliefs. And that’s what they’re doing.”