Reaction to the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act was as swift as it was predictable, with Democrats praising the ruling and Republicans throwing brickbats.
“Here in America, in the wealthiest nation on earth, no illness or accident should lead to any family’s financial ruin,” said President Barack Obama. Speaking from the East Room, Obama hailed the ruling, saying, “I know there will be a lot of discussion about the politics about this, about who won and who lost,” he said. “But that discussion 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, and the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold it,” Obama said.
Obama highlighted the benefits of the ACA, including the end of lifetime limits, discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions, and the end of gender discrimination in billing.
Obama also defended the mandate, saying that “people who can afford to buy health insurance should take the responsibility to do so.” He added, ”This idea has enjoyed support from members of both parties, including the current Republican nominee for President.”
The current Republican nominee for president, Mitt Romney, disagreed with the decision, and with the benefits of the ACA.
“What the court did not do in its last day in session, I will do on my first day if elected President of the United States. And that is, I will act to repeal Obamacare,” Mitt Romney said. Though Romney had signed a similar law as governor of Massachusetts, he has been staunchly opposed to the Affordable Care Act. “What the court did today was say that Obamacare does not violate the Constitution. What they did not do is say that Obamacare is good law, or that it is good policy.”
“Obamacare would add trillions to the national debt,” Romney said. Studies have shown that the Affordable Care Act would actually cut the deficit by reducing the growth of Medicare.
Romney said that eliminating national health care would require a change of administration.
“If we want to get rid of Obamacare, we have to get rid of President Obama,” Romney said.
Other Politicians Respond
The commentary was not limited to the presidential candidates, however. In a floor speech, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) praised the decision.
“I’m happy, I’m pleased to see the Supreme Court to put the rule of law ahead of partisanship and ruled that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional,” Reid said. Reid acknowledged that the ruling could require some tweaks in the law, but said, “we may do some things to improve the law and we’ll do that together but today millions of Americans are already seeing the benefits of the law that we passed.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) agreed. In a tweet, Pelosi said the ruling was a “Victory for the American people. Millions of American families will have certainty of health care benefits [and] affordable care.”
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. “The president’s health care law is hurting our economy by driving up health costs and making it harder for small businesses to hire. Today’s ruling underscores the urgency of repealing this harmful law in its entirety,” he said.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) scheduled a vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act for July 11. He called the court’s decision a “crushing blow to patients throughout the country.” Cantor acknowledged that the House had already done so, saying the body would “once again repeal Obamacare.” While the Republican-controlled House will certainly vote to eliminate the law, the Democratic-controlled Senate will just as certainly not take it up.
In an interview on CNN, conservative firebrand and former presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) called the ruling a “turning point in American history.” She said the court was an “activist court,” and said the court’s reliance on the tax argument was “bizarre.”
“This means for the first time in the history of the country that Congress can force Americans to purchase any product, any product Congress wants them to,” Bachmann said.
Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D- Ariz.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) the co-chairs of the House Progressive Caucus, praised the ruling. In a joint statement, they said, “The health care reform act provides that children will not be denied coverage due to a preexisting condition, young adults will be able to stay on their family health plan, and that Americans can keep their health care insurance if they get a major illness.”
“The Affordable Care Act will now take its rightful place with Social Security and Medicare as powerful examples of what we can do together to improve the lives of every American,” they added.
Liberal Orgs Cheer, Conservative Orgs Boo
Planned Parenthood issued a statement cheering the court’s decision. “This decision will have a profound and concrete impact on millions of people’s lives,” said Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Affordable, quality health care will now be available to millions of women who had no coverage or inadequate coverage before.”
The Traditional Values Coalition, meanwhile, blasted the decision, calling the ruling the “largest tax hike in American history.”
“At a stroke, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the nationalization of 18% of the United States economy, raised taxes by $1 trillion dollars, and jeopardized the American experiment through the most reckless and invasive legislation our generation has experienced,” said TVC president Andrea Lafferty in a statement.
Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus said the ruling “sets the stakes for November’s election.” He added, “We need market-based solutions that give patients more choice, not less. The answer to rising health care costs is not, and never will be, Big Government.
The American Medical Association, which backed the law, said that they were “pleased” by the ruling. In a statement, AMA president Dr. Jeremy A. Lazarus said, “this decision means millions of Americans can look forward to the coverage they need to get healthy and stay healthy.”
The American Association of Retired Persons also cheered the ruling. AARP CEO A. Barry Rand said, “We look forward to the continued implementation of this critically important legislation so that millions of Americans can continue to receive the benefits it provides.”
Deputy Solicitor General: Victory for the Rule of Law
Finally, the Obama administration’s legal team cheered the decision, not because of the decision itself, but because of the way the ruling came down.
In an interview on CNN, Principal Deputy Solicitor General Neal Katyal acknowledged that elements of the decision were “conservative,” but said that was okay. Noting that the conservative Chief Justice John Roberts had joined the liberal bloc of the court in the ruling, Katyal said, ”These justices think impartially. They do cross lines….it’s a real, resounding victory for the rule of law. ”
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