Democrats Hail Supreme Court Decision As A 'Win,' While GOP Looks Toward November
ABC's News Shushannah Walshe and Michael Falcone report:
With Thursday's U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding one of the most controversial parts of the Obama Administration-backed health care reform law - the individual mandate - reaction is pouring in from all sides of the political spectrum.
In an address from the White House, President Obama said that Thursday's decision "re-affirmed a fundamental principle…no illness or accident should lead to any family's financial ruin."
The president said that although the focus in Washington during this political season will be about "who won and who lost," that discussion, he said, "completely misses the point."
"Whatever the politics, today's decision was a victory for people all over this country whose lives will be more secure because of this law," Obama said.
Mitt Romney reacted a few minutes before, also from Washington DC, and unsurprisingly disagrees with the decision and agrees with the dissent.
"What the court did not do in its last day in session," Romney said. I will do on the first day as President of the United States. And that is, I will act to repeal Obamacare."
The Democratic National Committee's executive director Patrick Gaspard embodied the gleeful mood with this tweet: " @ patrickgaspard : it's constitutional. Bitches."
Presumptive GOP presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, who is also in Washington, DC on Thursday is also expected to weigh in on the ruling this morning at 11:45 a.m.
Also, the campaign didn't spare a moment to fundraise over the Court's decision. Campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul tweeting they have already raised a hefty amount. " @andreamsaul: Over $100k already raised online for@ MittRomney for # FullRepeal"
ABC's Rick Klein reports the House plans a repeal vote on July 11: "It will be symbolic - since the Senate won't take it up, and the president would veto it anyway - but an aide to Majority Leader Eric Cantor tells ABC that the House will debate and vote on a full repeal of the Obama health care law on July 11."
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said that Thursday's decision "sets the stakes for the November election."
"The only way to save the country from ObamaCare's budget-busting government takeover of health care is to elect a new president," Priebus said in a statement. "Under President Obama's signature legislation, health care costs continue to skyrocket, and up to 20 million Americans could lose their employer-based coverage."
The RNC is also out with a new website and web video. They both aim to rev up the electorate by saying the power to repeal is now squarely in their hands:
People v Obamacare Website: http://www.peoplevobamacare. com/
RNC Video: "The Final Verdict" http://www. youtube.com/watch? v=nXZw6pF__3E
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who is often mentioned as a potential running mate for Romney and serves as the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, echoed Priebus' words.
"Today's ruling crystallizes all that's at stake in November's election," McDonnell said. "The only way to stop Barack Obama's budget-busting health care takeover is by electing a new president."
The conservative group, The Club for Growth, called the decision "unfortunate":
" ObamaCare is a debacle and an unwarranted intrusion of the federal government into the marketplace," Club for Growth President Chris Chocola said in a statement. "Republicans in Congress should continue to try to repeal ObamaCare in its entirety and replace it with market-based health care policies that will improve quality and bring down costs."
Left-leaning groups, on the other hands, were thrilled with the high court's ruling.
The liberal advocacy group Move On.org praised the ruling: "Today, justice was upheld," MoveOn.org's executive director, Justin Ruben, said.
"But the fact that the Affordable Care Act was ever in jeopardy shows how politicized this court has become," Ruben added. "All too often, this 1 percent Court has legislated from the bench on behalf of corporations and the wealthy instead of acting as fair arbiters of the law."
The head of the Service Employees International Union said the Supreme Court's decision represented a rejection of the "cynical approach" of Republican politicians and "working people won a resounding victory."
"Thanks to President Barack Obama and the members of Congress who believed that passing this law would not only save lives, but endow our children with a more promising and secure future, there are more than 100 million Americans of all political parties, ages, incomes and occupations that are benefiting from the Affordable Care Act," SEIU President Mary Kay Henry said in a statement.
ON THE HILL:
Speaker John Boehner is out with a quick response to the Supreme Court's Health Care Ruling writing in a statement, "The president's health care law is hurting our economy by driving up health costs and making it harder for small businesses to hire."
"The president's health care law is hurting our economy by driving up health costs and making it harder for small businesses to hire," Boehner writes in the statement. "Today's ruling underscores the urgency of repealing this harmful law in its entirety. What Americans want is a common-sense, step-by-step approach to health care reform that will protect Americans' access to the care they need, from the doctor they choose, at a lower cost. Republicans stand ready to work with a president who will listen to the people and will not repeat the mistakes that gave our country ObamaCare."
The Democratic minority leader, Rep. Nany Pelosi, D-Calif., was in the last few minutes of a Whip Meeting when she found out about the decision, ABC's John R. Parkinson reported. According to a senior Democratic leadership aide, Pelosi returned to her office to make phone calls. She left messages for President Obama and Vice President Biden
She called Vicki Kennedy, wife of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. She told Mrs. Kennedy: "Now, Teddy can rest."
Pelosi also called her husband Paul. As he picked the phone she said "sweetie, we won!"
Pelosi is wearing her lucky purple pumps today. Pelosi wore these shoes the day health care passed (March 21, 2010). Pelosi's staff gathered outside her office to congratulate her with several rounds of applause. Pelosi proceed to a hastily-called Caucus meeting to go over the decision with Members. On the way she ran into Congressman George Miller. The two hugged and had this exchange:
Pelosi: What a great victory!
Miller: You bet your ass [it is].
Pelosi: I did. (both laughed at her joke).
Democratic Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Israel reacted writing the "ruling isn't a political victory for Democrats, it's a victory for America's middle class and seniors."
"Now House Republicans need to drop their partisan obstruction and move on," Israel writes in a statement. "Insurance companies are not back in control of a patient's care. Insurance companies can't again deny coverage to people with asthma, cancer or heart disease, or block women from getting cancer screenings. Republicans have wasted the last 18 months on a misguided, partisan crusade to put insurance companies back in charge of health care, instead of getting the economy back on track and strengthening the middle class."
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is out with a statement and is also critical of the Supreme Court's decision:
"What's important to remember is that what the Court rules on is whether something is constitutional or not, not whether it's a good idea," Rubio writes in a statement. "And while the Court has said that the law is constitutional, it remains a bad idea for our economy, and I hope that in the fall we will have a majority here that will not just repeal this law, but replace it with real solutions that will insure more people and cost a lot less money."
Rep. Michele Bachmann was in the court for the decision and is out with a lengthy reaction critical of the decision.
"I am deeply disappointed by the court's decision," Bachmann's statement reads in part. "Today's Supreme Court decision raises the stakes for the coming months. Since Congress passed Obamacare in 2010, I have made its repeal my top priority. … I disagree with the court's ruling and expansion of government power under the commerce clause. Government should never have the right to tell Americans what they must purchase."
Senate Minority Leader McConnell, R-Ky., says that Congress must act now to repeal the law. He says he hopes, with the prospect of new leadership in the Senate and the White House after the election, "we can enact these step-by-step solutions and prevent further damage from this terrible law."
"Today's decision makes one thing clear: Congress must act to repeal this misguided law," McConnell writes in a statement. " Obamacare has not only limited choices and increased health care costs for American families, it has made it harder for American businesses to hire. Today's decision does nothing to diminish the fact that Obamacare's mandates, tax hikes, and Medicare cuts should be repealed and replaced with common sense reforms that lower costs and that the American people actually want. It is my hope that with new leadership in the White House and Senate, we can enact these step-by-step solutions and prevent further damage from this terrible law."
Some Republican members of Congress were forced to delete their tweets after cable networks initially - and mistakenly - reported that that Supreme Court had struck down the individual mandate.
Florida Rep. Dennis Ross, for example, tweeted: "Individual Mandate ruled unconstitutional. Let Freedom Ring."
From ABC's Sunlen Miller:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., celebrated the ruling and said that after the election Democrats understand that "there may be some things we need to do to improve the law."
But, hoping to put the issue symbolically and substantively behind them, Reid said it is now time for Congress (ahem, Republicans) to move on to other matters.
"It's time, though, for Republicans to stop refighting yesterday's battles. Now that this matter is settled, let's move on to other things, like jobs," Reid said.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., does not attack the Supreme Court for the ruling but saying why now it is more important than ever to repeal the whole law. McConnell promised that Republicans "won't let up whatsoever in our determination to repeal this terrible law and replace I with the kind of reforms that will truly address the problems it was meant to solve."
And, like we've seen from other Republicans immediate reaction, McConnell says the bill was "sold to the American people on a deception," because Obama claimed the mandate was not a tax.
"The president of the United States himself promised up and down that this bill was not a tax," McConnell said. "This was one of the Democrats' top selling points because they knew it would never have passed if they said it was a tax. Well, the Supreme Court has spoken. This law is a tax. The bill was sold to the American people on a deception."
From ABC's Matt Larotonda:
South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham tells ABC the issue of the individual mandate has now evolved into one of taxation.
"The American people waking up this morning did not realize they were being taxed by the congress in a historic fashion," Graham said.
Graham said Democrats' refusal to refer to the clause as a source of federal revenue was "deceptive."
"The president said this was not a tax," he continued, "The Democrat who authored the bill said it was not a tax. The Supreme Court said it was constitutional because it is a tax."
Echoing similar statements by GOP colleagues, Graham would not go so far to point fingers at the conservative-leaning court.
"My beef is not with Justice Roberts," he said, elaborating that the court had made a "sound" decision purely on merits of the tax issue.
Veepstakes contenders have been weighing in all morning with their disappointment at the Court's ruling.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin wrote in a statement the decision "affirms another broken promise by President Obama."
"The federal government is tasked with protecting our cherished liberties - not infringing upon them with mandates and intrusions into our lives," Ryan's statement reads in part. "Despite today's disappointing decision on the law's constitutionality, there is no question that the law remains terrible policy. It is bad news for individuals, whose personal health care decisions are threatened by greater government control. It is bad news for workers, whose paychecks and jobs are threatened by the hundreds of billions of dollars of new tax hikes and crippling uncertainty from the massive law. It is bad news for seniors, whose health security is threatened by the bureaucratic restrictions to access from the law's changes to Medicare. It is bad news for future generations, whose prospects for greater opportunity are stifled by the trillions of dollars of new debt that will result from this law."
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is calling the ruling a "Blow to our freedoms."
"Ironically, the Supreme Court has decided to be far more honest about Obamacare than Obama was," Jindal writes in a statement. "They rightly have called it a tax. Today's decision is a blow to our freedoms. The Court should have protected our constitutional freedoms, but remember, it was the President that forced this law on us. The American people did not want or approve of Obamacare then, and they do not now. Americans oppose it because it will decrease the quality of health care in America, raise taxes, cut Medicare, and break the bank. All of this is still true. Republicans must drive hard toward repeal, this is no time to go weak in the knees."
"I've been clear from the very beginning that I do not believe a one-size-fits-all health care program works for the entire country and that each governor should have the ability to make decisions about what works best for their state," Christie writes in a statement. "Today's Supreme Court decision is disappointing and I still believe this is the wrong approach for the people of New Jersey who should be able to make their own judgments about health care. Most importantly, the Supreme Court is confirming what we knew all along about this law - it is a tax on middle class Americans."
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie also e mails his criticism:
ABC's Elizabeth Hartfield writes that Nebraska Sen. candidate Bob Kerrey is one of several Democratic Senate candidates vulnerable on the issue. Note: no mention of the mandate, nowhere does he say he agrees with the court's decision.
"Now that the court spectacle is over its time for Republicans and Democrats to put partisan politics aside and get down to business to find true cost containment solutions before we bankrupt the country," Kerrey writes in a statement. "I for one am confident I can work with Republicans to find common sense solutions that begin with establishing State based exchanges and supporting exciting initiatives by providers to lower costs and improve quality."
From ABC's Sunlen Miller:
Another possible running mate for Romney, New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte says today's Supreme Court ruling "fails to solve the fundamental problem," and promises to continue to fight for a full repeal.
"By imposing a coercive tax on the American people, the president's health care law represents an unprecedented federal overreach into individuals' personal lives," Ayotte writes. "It fails to solve the fundamental problem with the nation's health care delivery system - the skyrocketing cost of care. Business owners across New Hampshire have told me that burdensome taxes and mandates in the law are keeping them from growing and hiring. If we don't repeal it, Americans can expect to see higher costs, less choice and fewer jobs. I will continue to fight to repeal this law and replace it with market-based reforms that reduce costs and expand consumer choice."
Sen. John Thune, R-SD. calls today's Supreme Court decision, "disappointing," but says that Congressional Republicans "will not rest," until the law is fully repealed.
"Prior to the passage of ObamaCare, Speaker Pelosi infamously said Congress had to pass the bill to 'find out what is in it,' and two years later Americans now know that ObamaCare is making things worse," said Thune. "W"While today's decision is disappointing, Congressional Republicans will not rest until ObamaCare is fully repealed. Rather than jam a nearly 3,000-page bill through Congress using political favors and backroom deals, as was the case with ObamaCare, Congressional Republicans are committed to working across the aisle in a step-by-step manner to improve and expand access to health care, while reducing costs for Americans."
IN THE STATES:
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin who you will remember original used the term "death panels" to describe parts of the Affordable Care Act tweets a response:
"?@SarahPalinUSA Obama lied to the American people. Again. He said it wasn't a tax. Obama lies; freedom dies."
Former presidential candidate and Texas Gov. Rick Perry calls the ruling "a stomach punch to the American economy."
It is a shocking disappointment to freedom-loving Americans desperate to get our country back on track," Perry writes in a statement. " Obamacare is bad for the economy, bad for health care, bad for freedom. Americans have made clear their overwhelming opposition to its convoluted, burdensome and overreaching mandates. Freedom was frontally attacked by passage of this monstrosity - and the Court utterly failed in its duty to uphold the Constitutional limits placed on Washington. Now that the Supreme Court has abandoned us, we citizens must take action at every level of government and demand real reform, done with respect for our Constitution and our liberty."
FROM THE RIGHT:
Rush Limbaugh unsurprisingly disagrees with the court:
"Our freedom of choice just met its death panel," Limbaugh said.
Reality show host and real estate tycoon Donald Trump was predictably provocative in a series of tweets on the ruling:
From ABC's Matt Larotonda:
Some Tea Party leaders dovetailing that sentiment. Dean Clancy of Freedom Works tells ABC while the decision was "too narrow," the decision was still a "great day for America."
Grassroots conservatives will not back down, Clancy maintains, suggesting the next step would be repeal through winning the presidency and congressional supermajorities this November. Citing polls portraying most Americans against the Affordable Care Act, Clancy says his movement will resurge.
"the Tea Party is not going away," Clancy said.
Former presidential candidate Rick Santorum originally tweeted his disappointment with the ruling:
@RickSantorum #SCOTUS outcome is major setback for freedom & biggest permanent tax increase in our nation's history. Elections matter.
You'll remember this was a center piece of his primary campaign, consistently hammering away at Mitt Romney for his similar health care plan in Massachusetts. In a longer statement he writes, "This is a sad day."
"Today's outcome is the worst of all scenarios. Not only are our rights being taken away and Americans are being forced to do something we don't want to do, but now we are being burdened with the biggest permanent tax increase in our nation's history," Santorum writes. "I believe so strongly that if we do not defeat President Obama this November and elect more conservatives in the House and Senate, our country's future prosperity is at risk.
Steven Law, president and CEO of the GOP super PAC American Crossroads, predicted "this decision will drive Republican voter intensity sky-high."
"The last time Obamacare was litigated in a general election, Republicans picked up an historic number of seats in the U.S. House and made big gains in the U.S. Senate," Law said. "President Obama is no longer defending an abstract idea, but a wildly unpopular law that will be implemented two months after the election and make health care more expensive, force millions of families out of their current coverage, and impose numerous job-killing tax hikes."
FROM THE LEFT:
Vicki Kennedy, the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's wife, released a statement applauding the Supreme Court's ruling:
"We still have much work to do to implement the law, and I hope we can all come together now to complete that work," Kennedy writes. "The stakes are too high for us to do otherwise. As my late husband Senator Edward Kennedy said: "What we face is above all a moral issue; that at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country."
Bill Burton, head of the pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA, tweeted: "The Romney spin really bleeding in: he won by losing. Now he can continue to promise not to impose on America what he imposed on Mass."
NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Brock said in a statement: "Access to quality, affordable health care is a civil and human right that should not be reserved for the wealthy or the few. The 32 million American men, women and children covered under this law can now breathe easier."
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka writes he is "pleased and relieved the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act."
"Today's decision means that we can continue moving full speed ahead to implement and build upon the Affordable Care Act," Trumka statement reads in part. "We have no illusion that the destination has been reached, and we are more committed than ever to the hard work necessary to achieve our dream of quality health care for all…The Affordable Care Act is our first step in expanding health care coverage, improving care and beginning to get control of health care costs. We will need to build on the achievements of the Act, Medicare and Medicaid in order to fix our broken health care system and advance along the path to a more equitable and cost-effective system…The election this November provides a clear choice between the President, who has stood for fairness and for working men and women, and Romney, who urges repealing health insurance protection for working families. We stand with the President."
We'll be updating this blog with more reactions throughout the day.
ABC's John R. Parkinson, Sunlen Miller, Arlette Saenz and Emily Friedman contributed reporting.