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. L. R. Long

    Valerie, truer words have never been spoken. This article.... THIS article is what Romney is up against in November. He has no chance.

    June 24, 2012 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  2. David

    How delightful it is to hear an Obama drone not pin all the blame on the republican congress. I guess she is not partisan. Oh wait, she did do these things. More of the same drivel.

    June 24, 2012 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  3. VVVVVV

    Obamacare takes us further away from both a single payer plan and a consumer driven market. It strengthens what is wrong with the US healthcare system and that is an insurance driven market.

    June 24, 2012 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  4. gregory

    It's really too bad that all the administration does is blame blame blame instead of looking at what they did wrong with this issue. Both sides of the aisle do this too, it's a sign of our times to demonize the other side of an issue or party and never compromise or see the shortcomings of one's own position. This kind of politicing will not solve problems.

    June 24, 2012 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  5. Tim C.

    Health care is not a basic human right. There are so many businesses that won't even hire more workers now because of this health care issue.

    June 24, 2012 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  6. Tony

    The White House should not feel too bad if individual mandate is struck down, if the rest of the law survives. Individual mandate was never their first choice anyway. It was originally a Republican idea. Democrats wanted single payer or public option, either of which would be superior than individual mandate. A government-run insurance program such as Medicare has lower overhead and is more cost-efficient than private insurance, which individual mandate forces people to buy. If Republicans succeed in getting their own idea declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, Democrats should think twice before adopting another Republican idea.

    June 24, 2012 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  7. Alex

    It's easy to call out Republican but what did Democrats and Liberals do in the first two years of the Obama presidency? They had the majority in the Senate and House and clearly the President should have been to make some head way. But there's no mention of that failure to lead, that outright failure on the part of the Democrats to get anything done. All we are hearing are the same tired excuses and the blame games. Wake up my Liberal friends, you've missed the opportunity for four more years. There's enough Obama sound bites for the right to use the Presidents own words against him, words which lay out how to measure his success and how he should not get anopther four years in office if he failed on various issues. He's failed on all his major initiatives, all of them. He's failed the country, and he's failed me. he's faild to give me a reason to vote for him this time around. Goodbye and good riddance.

    June 24, 2012 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  8. Sean

    Two things that jump out at me from this article. 1. She says, and I quote... "I think, given how obstructionist the Republicans in Congress were, the president accomplished an enormous amount." And enormous amount of what. Simply saying he accomplished a lot doesn't make it true. I have accomplished more than you. See. Is it true?
    2. She says her lowest point was during the 2011 "debt ceiling debacle." Was it resolved? Is it over? NO!!! It's coming back again. Why? Because simply raising a debt ceiling doesn't solve problems, create jobs, or establish a budge. Do something real.

    June 24, 2012 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  9. California

    Botton line, if it gets taken down it's a negative for Hussein Obama. Twist it any way you want libs.

    June 24, 2012 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
  10. fred 37ify

    The White House already knows the SCOTUS has ruled the ACA unconstitutional ! They knew a month ago !

    June 24, 2012 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  11. Greenspam

    Supreme court will rule against Obamacare and also Romneycare.

    June 24, 2012 01:26 am at 1:26 am |
  12. 7Virtues7

    When a child wants everything that isn't good for him, you must say NO, over and over until he stops! Obama must be told "NO" because he wants to keep spending, spending, spending, spending. The American people and the GOP has to put a stop to this runaway spending! No is a good thing to say to someone who is out of control!!!! Mir President, the people don't want your policies, and they are taking you to court to stop you. It isn't just the GOP, but many many people who oppose your out rageousely expensive policies. NO! NO! NO! You should be told NO!

    June 24, 2012 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  13. dave

    If they rule that forcing people to buy health insurance is unconstitutional, what will this say about forcing people to buy car insurance? There is no difference in the two.

    June 24, 2012 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  14. tonytor35

    I admire your dedication to the President. He personally is likely a great guy. Unfortunately by his own actions he has lost touch with most of America. The direction in which he is trying to take the country is does not sit well with the ideals of this country. He has been brought up by a leftist mother and a communist father, then fell into the grip of labor unions.
    He really believes his agenda is the right course for the country. It is not. Obama is a dreamer trying to turn America into a Socialist country. It is not working, it will not work. It is against our DNA. Unfortunately president Obama is a dreamer crashing into the sea of reality. It is painful, but the events of last 3 weeks and the likely rejection of the Obamacare program are good evidence that his policies are being rejected.

    June 24, 2012 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  15. RasPutin

    If the Court quashes Obamacare I'm going to short health insurance stock. If they support it, I'm going to buy.
    I can't imagine the health insurance industry fighting against having everyone forced to buy from them!
    The good side? If it gets knocked down institute "single payer" like it should have been in the first place.

    June 24, 2012 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  16. nolimits3333

    1993 – GOP Health Plan (their answer to HilaryCare) includes a Mandate.
    2006 – RomneyCare includes a Mandate.
    2008 – GOP Candidates McCain & Romney support a Mandate, Candidate Obama does not.
    2010 – Pres. Obama's Health Plan, as a concession to Republicans, includes a Mandate.
    2011 – Suddenly a Mandate is Socialism and UnConstitutional.
    2012 – Right Rank & File are totally clueless that their votes have been supporting a Mandate
    for 20 years.

    June 24, 2012 02:05 am at 2:05 am |
  17. Will

    SCOTUS will open a pandora's box if they overturn this mandate, because the Federal GOVT have used mandates a lot in the past 100 years.
    Medicare,
    Social Security,
    Federal taxes
    Payroll taxes,
    The Draft,
    Prohibition

    These were and are laws that EVERYONE had or has to obey, MANDATE!

    June 24, 2012 02:06 am at 2:06 am |
  18. Larry L

    The right-wing activist court has become law makers for the Republican Party. We have no true Supreme Court to blindly adhere to the principles of law.

    June 24, 2012 02:07 am at 2:07 am |
  19. southernwonder

    obama has said this views on gay marriage has come about thr' evolution. the republicans are now mad at obama more for evolution than his new stand on gay marriage.

    June 24, 2012 02:27 am at 2:27 am |
  20. Eric

    She is absolutely right, on all topics discussed. I only wonder if the American people have enough collective sense to admit to the level of obstructionism being practiced. Its had an affect on us all.

    June 24, 2012 02:28 am at 2:28 am |
  21. Electroguy

    Waaah Waaah Waaah.. ill call her a waaaahmbulance..

    June 24, 2012 02:28 am at 2:28 am |
  22. Pinkflam

    No, it wasn't a case of the administration being "out-maneuvered", it was a piece of crppy legislation that was built on a house of cards.

    June 24, 2012 02:30 am at 2:30 am |
  23. Harry From Pa

    Just imagine if our congress could actually work together, the things we could accomplish....

    June 24, 2012 03:13 am at 3:13 am |
  24. government cheese

    Too easy..

    June 24, 2012 03:20 am at 3:20 am |
  25. Jon Creed

    As a Democrat, it pains me to see how Obama stepped on every banana peel the republicans threw at him. He didn't help himself by shutting his mouth after the Act was passed- the Republicans took control of the subject and twisted it to their advantage- a tactic they are supremely gifted at. Obama and his Take-the-high-Road-Above-it-all BS has gotten him into this mess. His whole presidency and probably re-election is riding on this ruling.

    June 24, 2012 03:30 am at 3:30 am |
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