tv Politics Nation MSNBC June 28, 2012 6:00pm-7:00pm EDT
jeff rosen. the chief justice said the law's individual mandate was constitutional. he wrote quote, the law's requirement that individuals pay a penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax. because the constitution permits such a çtax, it is not our rol to forbid it. was that the sentence that saved the health care law? >> that is absolutely the sentence that saved the health care law. lots of people have been focusing on a different provision of the constitution. did congress have the power to regulate interstate commerce broadly enough that would justify the mandate. but in the end, chief justice roberts casting a historic tie-breaking vote with the liberal justices. saying he did not think it could be justified under congress's power, it could be under the clear power to tax. that was the crucial decision that led him to decide with the
l liberals. >> so we're very clear, the arguments and the forecast was around the commerce law. and i know for a fact that a lot of civil rights legislation was based on interstate commerce. roberts and the court did not find it under commerce. in fact, there was questions on that which could be troubling on other cases. we'll leave that for a moment. but he found it constitutional based on the law in terms of interfering with taxing, is that correct? >> that's exactly right. the constitution explicitly gives coress the power to pass taxes. though there was a debate in congress. was this or wasn't it a tax? initially the democrats say it was not a tax and the republicans said it is. then as soon as it was challenged in court, they rushed to the courtroom and all the republicans say obama is raising your taxes. and the democrats said it could be justified under the taxing power.ç roberts shifted through those
and says as a constitutional matter, this looks like a tax and therefore it can be upheld. >> now, ian, this was stunning that the chief justice john roberts who is a bush appointee actually voted with the four considered liberals of the court. what was it -- you were actually in the chambers. could you share with us what was it like, the body language. was there any kind of visible signs before and during the reading of the court's decision that you could share with us? you were actually there. >> yeah. the most striking thing to me. when the justice walks into the courtroom, there is this ritual they all stand behind their chairs and look out over the gathered audience for awhile then sit down together. and eight of the justices did that today. but justice scalia the same who has had the gratuitous swipes at
the president on the immigration opinion and the rhetoric during the affordable care act, justice scalia had his hands on the bench and he was looking down like his son just told him he wrecked the car. that was the moment i was sure we won this thing. >> he was looking down like his son had just told him he wrecked the car. you're not implying that john roberts had kind of wrecked his hopes of overturning health care, are you? >> well, i mean, justice scalia has shown aç great deal of partisan throughout all this. it's clear he's been emotionally invested in wanting to see conservative policies come out. and i think b he looked physically depressed today. >> how stunned -- stunning was it and how stunned did people in the court -- in the chamber where you sat, how stunned were
they when the chief justice actually shifted gears and said but as of dealing with this from a tax law point of view, it is not our role to forbid it. and people began to realize that he had actually voted with the four members of the court that people often, i included, would never think he would vote with. >> it's funny. i was sitting a few seats away from a gentleman i sometimes debate from a conservative think tank. when the chief justice started reading, he read how it couldn't be part of the commerce clause. i was slumping lower and lower in my chair and my friend was getting higher and higher in his. then he got to that part and we switched posture. so there was a definite palpable effect. let's be careful not to let the chief justice off the hook. he did the right thing here, but
this is still the justice in cizens united and the ledbetter case. >> no,ç we are going to talk about him a lot later in the show. we are not going to let him on or off the hook. we'll let people decide that on all the information. let me go back to you for a minute, jeff. the chief justice ruling, why he tried to find a way to declare the law constitutional. he writes court must have quote, a general reticence to invalidate the acts of the nation's elected leaders. it's endeavor must be to conserve not destroy the legislation. now, that doesn't sound too partisan to me. >> it's not too partisan. this is exactly what he said he would do in his confirmation
hearings and when he took office. he said it was bad for the court and country when the justices handed down 5-4 decisions that split along party lines. the court should stay out of the political process and leave the decisions up to elected officials. he said he would try to encourage bipartisan decisions. as you've been discuss iing. i do think he gets a lot of credit. the most important, most defining decision of his career. it didn't make either side happy, brought the court back from the abyss. upheld his domestic agenda. this is the good robertsç recognizing the role of a chief justice is different than an associate justice. he is responsible for the bipartisan legitimacy of the court as a whole. today he tried to shore that up.
>> all right. let's bring in congressman fata. let's start with you. your reaction to this decision by the supreme court. >> i think it's just extraordinary that what you had as a -- that was criticized if you go back to the arguments by everyone on all sides that it was fatally deficient. here we have a ruling today that as you've indicated is going to provide health care to tens of millions of people. we have an accomplishment and achievement a hundred years in the making. we have a presidency that's been transformational. i want to commend the president. i want to commend eric holder for putting a legal team together and a legal strategy to present to this court. then take chief justice roberts
on his word as to how he would rule on these matters. they made an argument a lot of people didn't pay attention to. they made an argument if you didn't find it acceptable under the commerce clause and under the necessary clause, that you could on this basis rule in favor of moving america forward. that's what the chief justice did. >> now, congressman mcdermott, almostç immediately after the ruling, your colleagues on the other side of the aisle started saying we're going to repeal it. watch this. >> i will act to repeal obama care. >> there's only one way to truly fix obama care. only one way. and that's a full repeal. >> i've scheduled a vote for total repeal of the obama care bill to occur on wednesday, july 11th. >> today's ruling underscores the urgency of repealing this
harmful law. >> can they do it, congressman mcdermott? do they have the votes to repeal this law? >> well, they have the laws to get it out of the house, al. but it'll never get out of the senate. these guys can't accept they've lost the ball game. they spent all their efforts on undermining the president's effort with health care. and they were hanging their hat that they were going to win the election in 2012 by doing in the president's plan. and the court led by john roberts, i mean, there's an irony here of a right wing judge coming out and putting his blessing on obama's plan. that was the -- that was icing on the cake. they're like a team that lost a game and go into the dugout and kicking the bat rack and throwing the water cooler around. they're simply going to try -- in fact, they told us it's on the 11th of july. they're going to come to the
floor with a repeal. they'll get it out of the house and it'll quietly die inç the senate. >> there's no president that's going to sign an appeal. barack obama's not going to repeal it. in our church they say the lord works in mysterious ways. i think that chief justice roberts really has positioned this argument in a way in which it will be difficult for any of this to be undone going forward. >> it's interesting, congressman. you and i must have went to similar churches. congressman chaka fattah. congressman mcdermott. thanks for your time this evening. ahead, mitt romney's vowing to repeal the law he helped to create. what does it mean for the election? and democrats walk out as the gop-led house votes to hold eric holder the attorney general in contempt of congress.
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happens to be a republican idea. willard mitt romney actually made it law in massachusetts. it's a defining day and it could have a major impact on the election. that's next. why not make lunch more than just lunch? with two times the points on dining in restaurants, you may find yourself asking why not, a lot. chase sapphire preferred. [ chuckles ] [ chuckles ] ♪ [ honk! ] ♪ [ honk! ] ♪ [ honk! ] ♪ [ male announcer ] now you'll know when to stop.
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what the court did not do in its last day in session, i will do in my first day if elected the president of the united states. that is i will act to repeal obama care. >> but back in 2006, listen to what he said about the central part of the law. the individual mandate. this was shortly before he signed his own version of health reform in massachusetts. >> with regards toç the mandat the individual responsibility program which i've proposed, i was very pleased to see that the compromise from the two houses includes the personal responsibility principle. that is essential for bringing health care costs down for everyone. and getting everybody the health insurance they deserve and need. >> romney has done a complete 180. but he's not the only republican
who was for the individual mandate before he was against it. the first president george bush, senator john mccain, and former house speaker newt gingrich were just some of the top republicans who once backed the mandate. isn't that interesting? but now republicans want to make the health care debate all about taxes. joining me now is ed rendell and bob shrum who ran the campaign against mitt romney in 2004. how will today's ruling effect the presidential race? let's talk about the politics in this. >> interestingly, i think it will help fire up the republican base. there's no question about it. and what these -- they look like small children are doing, they're going to vote to repeal obama care in the house on july 11th, they're just trying to
fire up the base. they know there's no chance it'll be repealed. you have to have 61ç republica senators. it's notoing to happen. they want to jack up turnout. and for us, we ought to consider that this president with courage and courage to go forward when he was told not to even by his own advisers, this president has done something historic. he has made the united states join the nations of the world who guarantee health insurance. not health insurance but health coverage to their citizens. >> not only was he told not to do it by some of his advisers, he was condemned by some leaders in his own party saying why's he doing this first? >> he didn't do it first. he did stimulus first. i hate it when people say he -- >> that's true. >> he did stimulus first. but he showed courage and got this done.
it's a historic achievement. if our base needs any other excuse to get out and vote, it boggles the mind. >> and 86 million people who need the coverage. let me go to you bob shrum. let me show you this. >> speak! >> oh, thank god! >> they took it away. yes! >> çnow, this was congresswoma schmidt when she thought it was struck down. then the chief justice said "but." look how emotional she had
gotten. i mean, all kinds of gestures because she thought they had overturned the mandate. then you have the extremists like you have media matters reporting on a blog that ex-militia blogger who predicts an armed insurrection over health care decision. so there's a lot of emotion and passion in this. and as the governor said, they're going to try to drive all of that to try to fire up their base to vote against the president. >> yeah. three quick things. first of all, a couple cable networks got this wrong. that's why we got to see what she was doing. secondly, i can't understand why somebody would be so joyous at the idea 30 million people would lose health care. the people with preexisting conditions couldn't get insurance. and there would be lifetime limits so if you had cancer and you were sick and in the hospital, the insurance company could say that's it. sorry.
we're not paying anymore. i think that's right about the base. but we have to understand what that republican base is. and 43% of people said they wanted the law upheld with minor changes. 15% wanted it entirely upheld. and about 30% wanted it thrown out. that is who they'reç speaking . they're speaking to that 30%. and those folks are going to turn out. now, we've got to make sure we turn out our folks. that we tell the story about health care, about the kids getting coverage, staying on their parents' insurance policy. i think this in the end will work strongly to help the president get re-elected. >> now, governor, is this an opportunity for the president to reset the discussion on health care? i mean, when you look at the polls, new york times cbs polls show 85% support covering those with preexisting conditions.
77% support reduced drug costs for medicare recipients. i mean, can he now retool and reset this argument now that the supreme court has found it is not unconstitutional? >> well, i don't know if it's true for you or you reverend, but when the president gave his short speech he set out why it's a good thing for the country. would he had done that back in july of the year it was passed, if he had done that, maybe health care wouldn't as an overall bill have a negative opinion in the hearts and minds of the american people. because the bill has so many good things that so many people agree with. and i think what's good now as bob said is it's giving democrats the right to say this is a president who has made history. he accomplished whatç no other president and presidents have been talking about this for five, six, seven different
presidents. he did it. he accomplished it. it's good. it's not perfect. by the way, the president sounded presidential when he said we will work with you to try to improve it. that's an important messe. if the republicans weren't a bunch of spoiled kids, they'd say mr. president, there are six things we'd like you to look at. and i think the president would respond positively to that. it's a great victory for him. and the base ought to understand how historic this is. >> bob, you're a major strategist. would you advise the president's re-election campaign to push forward on what this means, and what it means to millions of americans or would you tell them toe equally stress that willard mitt romney himself supported the mandate and made it law in massachusetts? >> i think romney's going to have a hard time in the debates because i think the moderators are even going to ask him about this. he's out of a rationale.
he said it's a good idea but ought to be decided at the state level. it's not a federal subject. the court led by chief roberts who did a lot to reestablish the reputation of that said it is a function. he's standing up for the majority of americans, for the middle class, for all these folks with preexisting conditions. all the people who don't have health insurance. and romney's standing once again with the few in favor of a large tax cut for the wealthy without providing any real solution to the health insurance problem. i think it's a winning issue. >> and we can characterize the president is a real leader. he took risks. he had courage. it's exactly what a leader should do. and he deserves tremendous credit for it. >> it's the biggest social change since franklin d. roosevelt. >> there's no doubt about it. thank you both ed rendell and
bob shrum. thanks for your time tonight. coming up, president obama's signature achievement came down to one man. the bush appointed chief justice john roberts and his history with obama make it even more remarkable. and how this law's helping americans right now. we talk to a woman who says she wouldn't be alive if it wasn't for the law. stay with us. [ morgan ] right now when you use your visa card,
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we're back on "politicsnation." today the president's signature achievement, a law that literally saves lives. rested in the hands of one man. and with so much riding on it, john roberts, the conservative chief justiceç sided with the president. long before the day's health care ruling, the legacies of president obama and roberts have been linked. both earned law degrees at harvard. both went on to leading positions at the law review there. decades later it was chief justice roberts who administered the oath of office.
and roberts administered that same oath in a rare do-over. time and again their lives have been bound together even in roberts' confirmation fight when then-senator obama voted against putting him on the court. >> when i examined judge roberts' record and history of public service, it's my personal affirmation he has far too often used his formidable skills on a behalf of the strong in opposition to the weak. the bottom line is this. i will be voting against john roberts' nomination. >> the man president obama voted against in 2005 threw his weight behind obama's signature achievement. it's a remarkable story. joining me once again is jeffrey rosen professor at george washington university and legal affairs editor of "the new
republic." he's written extensively about chief justice roberts over the years. including a magazine cover story written just before the confirmationç in 2005. thanks again for joining me. >> it's great to be here. >> now, jeff, you know chief justice roberts far better than most. could you have foreseen him siding with liberal justices in this landmark decision? >> i certainly don't know him well, but i could have seen him siding with them based on the kind of justice he said he wanted to be. i had an interview with him soon after becoming chuf justice. he said he thought it was terrible when they had 5-4 decisions along party lines. and he said his central mission as chief justice was to be to avoid that. he's had mixed success in that. i think he came to washington and found things were more polarized than he expected. you noted the similarities
between obama and roberts and trying to achieve some sort of bipartisan consensus and finding it challenging. this was the defining vote of his career and he really stepped up to the plate and i think he just deserves huge credit for doing what he said he would do. >> now, in 07, you interviewed him, and roberts reflected on the legacy of past chief justices. and what he said was quote, it's sobering to think of the 17 chief justices, certainly a majority of them have to be characterized as failures. the successful ones are hard to number. interesting. >> it was extremely interesting. i think he meant they wereç failures because they were not able to unify their courts. the justices were squabbling. they acted like law proffers more than members of the court. he realized the difficulty of
the task he was setting up for himself. he said we'll try to avoid for awhile. just give it up and preside over a polarized court. so he was not underestimating the difficulty of the task. he embraced as his model his greatest predecessor john marshall. marshall succeeded because he was able to persuade justices from different sides of the litical aisle to converge around narrow decisions that avoided to confront the president. and i don't know if this decision ranks with marbury versus madison, but it uses creative legal arguments to give the president what he wants but in the process to shore up legitimacy in a way to make it easier for roberts to take the court in a more conservative direction in the future. >> jeff, as you may suspect i'm no big fan of justice roberts.
but today republicans were slamming him. let me show you already after this decision today we hear republicans saying quote, i thought he was the champion of limited government said representative joe wilson. the congressman who famously yelled you lie during president obama's 2009 speech before congress. senator jeffç sessions says he was supposed by roberts. and uneasy about the court's interpretation. and senator david vetter was stunned and shocked. how much of public opinion impacts roberts what have you got to know of him and doing stories on him? >> i think he's less impacted by public opinion than a concern about the court's legitimacy. he thought when the court is polarized, people are less willing to see it as a neutral institution. that's why he's not reading the
polls. if he were, he would have struck down the mandate. he certainly didn't worry about criticism on the left. this was viewed as a form of intimidation which is nonsense. he wouldn't b care what any liberal said about him. he cares a lot about the supreme court as an institution. he figured in the long-term, it's more important to maybe even join a decision he doesn't agree with. to uphold a law he doesn't much like because the legitimacy of the court is more important than that. >> jeffrey rosen, thanks for our incredible insight tonight. >> thank you. it was a pleasure to talk with you. coming up, a life-changing decision for millions of americans. we'll talk to some people who have already seen the benefits of this historic law. plus a lot of presidents have tried to bring health care to america, but president obama was the one who did it. we'll look at the history. stay with us.
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believe it or not, there was other news today and it wasn't good. republicans pushed their smear campaign against attorney general eric holder to the next level. voting to hold an attorney general of the united states in contempt of congress for the first time in u.s. history. democrats walked out the chamber turning their backs on the gop's
shameful abuse of power. they walked outside on to the steps of the capitol as the vote was about to be held. and chanted shame on you, shame on you. what began as an investigation of a botched federal gunwalking operation is now simply a politically motivated witch hunt. the attorney general called it a crass effort and a grave disservice to the american people. he's right. it's outrageous. and republicans should be ashamed. oh, you're good! hey, did you know that honey nut cheerios is... oh you too! ooh, hey america's favorite cereal is... honey nut cheerios ok then off to iceland!
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have received free preventive services. nearly 7 million young adults are covered by their parents' insurance. and over 5 million seniors saved $3.7 billion on medicare drugs. lks, those aren't just numbers. they represent real people and american lives will be saved because of it. joining me now are three people who know how important the decision is. spike dolomite ward. stacie ritter, a mother of two girls who were diagnosed with childhood leukemia. she no longer has to worry they'll be denied coverage because of that preexisting condition. and louisa mcqueeny, the general manager of a small business who supports the affordable care act. thank you all for joining me today. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> thanks for having us.
>> spike, let me start with you. you said in an article in december of last year that this health care law literally saved your life. how are you doing today? >> well, i'm at the end of a very long treatment program for stage three breast cancer. i underwent five months of intensive chemotherapy and then nine days ago iç received a double mastectomy and spent three days in the hospital. i'm pretty confident that the cancer is now out of my body. >> wow. and you were able to get this treatment and seek this new leaf in your life because of this. >> yeah. only because of the affordable care act. it's the pcip preexisting insurance plan through the state of california that has given me the best of care. i wanted people to know that
this is not government-run health care. it's the absolute best cancer care that any insurance policy could get me. and i am extremely grateful. >> stacey, let me go to you. you're fighting an insurance company right now. how important is this law to you and your daughters? >> this law is extremely important not only to me and my daughter but to 350,000 other childhood cancer survivors right now in this country who are now protected from preexisting condition discrimination. they're able to stay on their parents' coverage until they're 26. they don't have to fall into that gap that they used to fall into when they would age out of their parents' plans. and they don't have to worry about the cap on coverage anymore. and eventuallyç there will be
something in place that will protect families from what i'm going through right nowhich is a battle with the insurance company to cover a prescription that my doctors recommend the girls have that the insurance company is now fighting because it's too expensive. >> louisa, let me go to you. you are general manager of a business but you support this act. in fact, you have one employee that has just been diagnosed with cancer, i believe. >> yes, that is correct. and it's very important we keep this health care in place for him. >> now, why do you feel it's important that -- as someone in small business because we're hearing people say small businesses have concerns. you manage one. why do you take the position that this act is important? >> well, our company has always provided health insurance, but the costs as everybody knows has
skyrocketed in the last 10, 15 years. and finally this year our costs have been coming down. we qualified for a tax credit and our pmiums pretty much stayed the same they were last year. why is it important for this particular employee if we will not pay his health insurance, he would be without. he would have a preexisting condition and then what do you do? it's what we do. most people get their health insurance through their employment. to take that away would not -- that would be a terrible thing. >> spike dolomite çward, staci ritter, and louisa mcqueeny thank you for sharing your stories with us tonight. >> thank you. >> thank you. coming up, over 100 years in the making. from teddy roosevelt to the liberal line. a historic day for this historic president. next. i went to a small high school.
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finally tonight, a historic day for historic president. one that's a hundred years in the making. teddy roosevelt first called for health care reform in 1912. putting it on his party's platform. fdr and harry truman both pushed for it during their presidencies. and lbj won some reforms when he signed the social security act of 1965. creating medicare and medicaid. but the debate for universal care was reignited in the '90s by then-first lady hillary clinton. and the most recent push would come in part from the late massachusetts senator ted kennedy. who spent a career fighting for universal care. in a surprise move, he endorsed then-senator obama in 2008
partly because of his trust in the future president to get it done. >> with barack obama we'll break the old gridlock and finally make health care what it should be in america, a fundamental right for all not just an expensive privilege for the few. >> that dream became a reality in march 2010 when the house >> on this vote, the yeas are 220, the nays are 211. the bill is passed. >> president obama signed the bill into law two days later accomplishing something no president could do for a century. and so today is a day we will never forget. it's a day that will never be forgotten in american history. joining me now is melissa harris-perry, host of msnbc's
"melissa harris-perry." this is thursday night, not saturday or sunday morning, so take off your host hat and put on your professorial hat. >> so this is a hugely important point about president obama. i want to walk us through it quickly. we have been talking so much today about chief justice roberts and the supreme court. but my colleague gerald rosenburg a law professor from the university of chicago has written that the supreme court is a hollow hope. a lot of sometimes when we look at the civil rights movement, we think of the supreme court as so critically important to the motion of the civil rights movement, but it's always just reactive. the court can't make policy. the court can't set us on a new track. it can only react. and so as important as the court's decision was today, what we have to remember is that this court would have never had an
opportunity to make aç decisio like this had it not been for president obama and quite honestly for speaker nancy pelosi. here's what they did. not with the masses kind of majorities that fdr had when he passed his hundred days of legislation. not even with majority that lbj had when he passed great majority programs. not even with majorities as secure as president clinton believed democratic majorities to be even though they shifted in '94. in '92 the common wisdom were democrats were always going to hold the house for the next decade. this president came in knowing he had razor thin majorities in the house. basically a senate willing to filibuster him at every moment. he was in a recession. he was in a downturn. he knew how dangerous it was politically for him. he knew it had to be done fop have the courage and conviction to move forward, re-election or not, to change the path of american history is the story of
president obama's courage and nancy pelosi's courage to make this happen in the first two years. >> you know, president ronald reagan once urged against the passage of medicare saying it would bring about socialism. watch this. >> behind it will come other federal programs that will invade every area of freedom as we know it in this country. until one day as norman thomas said we will awake to find that we have socialism. one of these days you andry going to spend our sunset years telling our childrenç and our children's children what it was once like in america when men were free. >> when i hear him talking about medicare like that and i hear what i'm hearing today, i mean, there's always ban lot of emotion and passion in fighting things like this. >> what people spent their sunset years doing before the passage of medicare was being
hungry. making tradeoffs between health and having food on the table. it is a ridiculous position. we as americans have always balanced freedom. nobody loves freedom more than african-americans in the story and history of america. on the other hand we balance that against the collective responsibility we have against one another to ensuring not just the rich get to have the opportunity to pursue happiness. >> melissa harris-perry, thank you for your time tonight. and catch her when she puts her host hat back on this saturday. she'll have an interview with nancy pelosi. 10:00 a.m. saturday here on msnbc. well, i have in my lifetime seen a lot of things go back and forward. and we've seen over the last few months a lot of drama. i had a mentor that once told me don't get too carried away.
try to think of what will it matter whatever you're in the middle of. what will it matter a hundred years from now. today a hundred years from now, what happened today will matterç this is one of those moments that a century from now it will be remembered. it's important. it not only saved lives today and that's very important, it changed and cemented a change of course. that's big stuff. that's historic stuff. you eni should be happy we lived to see it and hope it's upheld and continues in that direction. thanks for watching. i'm al sharpton. "hardball" starts right right now. roberts rules. let's play "hardball."
good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington, and let me start with one of the great days in this country's history. today the united states supreme court led by the chief justice himself decided that president barack obama's health care act squares with the american constitution. all the drum beating, all the horrors floated up from the right wing fever swamps are as of today simply the hate vapors of the rejection. the rear guard funded by the koch brothers and the u.s. chamber of commerce. today's hero, chief justice john roberts who said yes to progress and no to the role prescribed for him by the right. he would not be the man, lead the court, let the court name for him,ç carry historic blame for health care to tens of millions of americans. he would not be the ramrod for another right leaning partisan appearing supreme court ruling that would have been the