Jarrett to NABJ: White House bracing for health care decision
June 23rd, 2012
07:59 PM ET
2 years ago

Jarrett to NABJ: White House bracing for health care decision

New Orleans (CNN) - As the Supreme Court prepares to make a historic ruling on the fate of President Barack Obama's health care law, his top adviser shifted attention on the rest of the White House's legislative agenda rather than the potential dismantling of its signature piece of legislation.

Valerie Jarrett, Obama's senior adviser and close family friend, told a group of black journalists Saturday that the administration is prepared for the court's decision – which could come as early as Monday – then went on to attack Republicans in Congress for what she called a strategy of "no."

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"The Affordable Care Act is a very important piece of legislation that we spent a great deal of time crafting," Jarrett told CNN, but, pointing to legislation on fair pay for women, tax cuts for working families and college tax breaks, added, "he had a lot more going on than the Affordable Care Act."

Still, she admitted that the administration was out-maneuvered by Republicans in the months following the law's passage, as the other side turned up the drumbeat to repeal what they called "Obamacare."

"The opponents of it out-organized – in terms of the 'death panels' - and distorted what we were doing early on."

She then lashed out at what she called the "obstructionist" GOP members in Congress.

"It's been very disappointing that the Republicans in Congress put politics ahead of the economy," she said. "Their strategy has been to say 'no,' even to the detriment of the American people."

She added: "I think, given how obstructionist the Republicans in Congress were, the president accomplished an enormous amount."

Jarrett, in New Orleans to address the annual convention of the National Association of Black Journalists, spoke for about an hour on a wide range of issues, from health care and immigration to gay marriage and the state of political discourse in the country. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, campaign advisers and GOP representatives were also invited to speak at the event, but declined repeated requests, according to event organizers.

Jarrett reflected on her lowest personal moment working at the White House.

"The lowest low I can tell you was the debt-ceiling debacle (of 2011). It was the time that really crystallized to me that the Republicans were willing to just run the car right off the cliff."

On the president's recent announcement of his support for gay marriage, Jarrett pushed back against criticism that the timing of the decision was less about the issue and more about pure politics.

"He made the decision when he was comfortable making the decision. It was a very personal decision. He couldn't accelerate that process any faster than he did. This was not something he was doing for politically opportunistic reasons," she said.

On Obama's clearly frustrated reaction to being interrupted by a conservative reporter during his White House remarks on immigration, Jarret said, "He's human."

"Does he get frustrated from time to time? Of course he does. He's human. Does he let that frustration linger? He can't afford to. He's president of the United States. He's got to get back to work."

On the current level of political discourse in the country, she pointed to the conversations happening on the internet.

"There is a coarseness to the dialogue, generally," she said. "Look no further than the comments section online to see how coarse our dialogue is getting towards one another."

Jarrett, who is widely seen as Obama's closest adviser and who has known the first couple for more than 20 years – she was even the first to 'vet' Obama when he and Michelle first started dating – said she has no desire to run for elected office, even though she considered a Senate seat after Obama's election in 2008.

"I don't have that appetite, I really don't," she said. "It doesn't get any better than what I'm doing now. Being in the White House is just the most extraordinary experience of my life. It's a good note to end my public service."


Filed under: 2012 • Louisiana • President Obama • Valerie Jarrett
soundoff (104 Responses)
  1. Etch-A-Sketch Mitt RobMe Say_Nothing -Do_Nothing_Flip_n_Flopper VULTURE CAPITALIST

    good for her!

    June 23, 2012 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  2. John

    The do nothing GOP Congress tanking the economy on purpose and trying to pin the blame on the Democrats. The do nothing GOP Congress wanting the economy to be destroyed for selfish,political reasons. The do nothing GOP Congress

    June 23, 2012 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  3. n

    The whole America know about the "the party of No" I will act upon their plot to bring down this country come November! The President will be lifted up as we continue forward!

    June 23, 2012 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  4. Really?

    If the Republican Party is the party of "No" it is simply because the Democratic Party is the party of "Yes" when it comes to destroying the once great country we had. Down with redistribution and com mun ism.

    June 23, 2012 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  5. Four and The Door

    "The lowest low I can tell you was the debt-ceiling debacle (of 2011). It was the time that really crystallized to me that the Republicans were willing to just run the car right off the cliff."
    ________________________________________________________________________________________________
    Wow is she ever distracted from reality! The debt ceiling process was one of the Republican House's finest moments. The Obama Administration fought with all their effort having to control spending as a part of blowing past a debt limit. This was classic Obama. Of course the American people won and he was forced to accept $3 trillion worth of spending cuts. Then what does he do? That's right... he tried to take credit for the spending cuts. What a piece of work.

    June 23, 2012 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  6. Name willardbullock

    Kick out of presdient obama 2012

    June 23, 2012 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  7. Phyllis G Williams

    "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Galatians 6: 7)

    June 23, 2012 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  8. Jake

    too bad the Republican party supported the same legislation a few short years ago! But we get it, whatever Obama wants, they have to say NO!

    June 23, 2012 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  9. Gurgyl

    This healthcare law is nation's dire need. SC needs to understand. Nothing unconstitutional of this much needed law. Car insurance FICA etc are all mandatory. Yes, on OBAMA12.

    June 23, 2012 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  10. Gurgyl

    This is a dire needed law.

    June 23, 2012 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  11. Corey

    Our ultra conservative 5-4 Supreme Court will strike down the ACA and in doing so create even greater economic woe for the American people. Like Congress the Supreme Court will bow to their corporate overlords.

    June 23, 2012 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  12. jj

    If the affordable care act is overturned, the GOP will have been successful...at bringing the U.S. several decades into the past...and we will once again, out of 33 so called "advanced" and "progressive" countries, we will be the only one without mandated healthcare. And the, what will the GOP agenda be for healthcare in the future? The cost isn't going to go down...it'll go up because people who can afford healthcare won't need to pay for it...but they will still go to the ER and get services....Way to go!!!

    June 23, 2012 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  13. edmundburkeson

    Enter coarse comment here! I think what she is trying to say is that the Emperor has no clothing.

    June 23, 2012 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  14. acosell

    Go Obama,.... Americans are behind you. We needed the healthcare reform.

    June 23, 2012 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  15. Sirned

    Our Grandchildren will look back on this in the History books and wonder what kind of people would vote against helping their patriotic fellow Americans in getting affordable healthcare. This is a defining moment where the greed of insurance companies wins over the good of the people....Me the insurance company wins over our constitution of We the people...Sad really sad....

    June 23, 2012 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  16. chill out

    Before the SCOTUS took up the argument talking heads gave it only a 1% chance of failing. During the arguments it changed not because of the constitution but because SCOTUS sounded like it would vote along party lines and not what they were sworn to do. The Roberts court will be remembered for a long time if they vote their party as they have in the past as one that did not do their sworn duty but their parties biding.

    June 23, 2012 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  17. DB

    Do something that is potentially unconstitutional, get caught, and have the Supreme Court say it is unlawful, and blame the Republicans saying they are the party of "no" is kind of stupid. We will see all kinds of feathers flying once the SCOTUS has made a ruling, either way. This is, or at least use to be, the land of freedom of choice and Congress should not force the citizens into any program that the majority does not want, if that is the case. It should be interesting to watch after the announcement that is for sure.

    June 23, 2012 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  18. Sirned

    Our Grandchildren will look back and scratch their head at the notion half this country would rather have no healthcare reform than reform prominent Republicans wrote and now hate because Obama wanted to implement it...So now more people will suffer all for a political game by the right. What does it say about us as a thinking nation. I'm afraid not much...Now we can ask Republicans Where are the jobs? where is the the replacement for Obamacare you promised?

    June 23, 2012 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  19. Guest 1

    it's become painfully obvious that the lack community can not come up with solutions to the problems that they create without spending the money, that somebody else earned!!!...aka stealing??

    June 23, 2012 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  20. carolina

    Obama care was a waste of time. Should have been thinking about the ecomony and working on that. All he is doing now is campaining and complaining-both he does well

    June 23, 2012 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  21. King

    The repubs have been trying to get this mandate done in health care for ages while the dems advocated for the single payer government run healthcare system, as soon as Obama jumped. ship from the dems, and jumped unto the repubs boat the repubs jumped ship and started fighting against the policies they've been advocating for years. these repubs think they can do any destructive thing to this country, just because they've got 66 percent of the white folks on their side, because they hold the power, this is why these repubs can say proudly that they are going back to the bush destructive policies and have no fear, because they know they've got 65 percent of the white votes no matter if its not in their best interest. I wonder who will get hurt worst when china take over our jobs, minority or the majority.

    June 23, 2012 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  22. Sirned

    I hope journalists are keeping a close tab on the insurance companies and their lobbiests that paid Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas's wife 700,000 dollars to lobby against healthcare reform. If she were told early the outcome the insurance companies could play the market with an advantage....Probably everything is above board but you never know. And seeing how these companies act in the last few days would be worth investigating...I trust none of these Conservative judges. After all they voted for Citizens United....A corporate CEOs buy me a politician bill....

    June 23, 2012 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  23. Chuk

    I hope it doesn't happen, but if the President loses re-election, I'd like to see how these Republican Chameleons change. I'd like to see how quickly they find that co-operation on behalf of "the american people" is suddenly a good thing. Very quickly those who don't play along would be seen as un-american, etc, etc. In their pretense to be working for the "american people" they're determined to have their way even if it means destroying America. Makes sense doesn't it?

    June 23, 2012 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  24. Tom

    It is my hope that the republican party, the party of no, the party who's sole purpose was to make President Obama a one term President will be rejected by the american people in the fall election.

    June 23, 2012 10:56 pm at 10:56 pm |
  25. Chicago101

    "The Affordable Care Act is a very important piece of legislation that we spent a great deal of time crafting," Jarrett told CNN, ..."

    BUT spend very little time reading this bill OR understanding that americans don't want this Bill.

    BUT spent LOTs of time buying votes and cramming this down Americans throats..

    Time to throw this OUT !!

    June 23, 2012 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
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