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. Top_News

    Distorted? That's because Republicans found out early that obamacare was crafted behind closed doors. When legislation is placing bigger government and more mandates on Americans, of course "no" would be the answer. Obama ran the car off the cliff when he did not cut the deficit in half as he promised during his campaign ... he increased the deficit. In my opinion, perhaps one of obama's biggest faults was hiring too many of his closest friends instead of experts.

    June 24, 2012 03:45 am at 3:45 am |
  2. Chedar

    The republicans play the dirtiest of the politics at the expense of the American people and to this nation. If and when this country fail, there is no one to blame except the crime these republicans did to this once great nation.

    June 24, 2012 04:00 am at 4:00 am |
  3. Sarah

    You mean there really aren't "death panels?" Fox news lied??

    June 24, 2012 04:34 am at 4:34 am |
  4. John

    To be honest I would love free healthcare, as long as someone else was paying for it.

    June 24, 2012 05:06 am at 5:06 am |
  5. James

    Everything every politician does is politically motivated. The President announced his decision on gay marriage in an election year in order to get that block of voters. It's plain and simple. If this woman doesn't realize that, she is either very naive, very uneducated or she is in total denial. While I think all politicians are crooked as a dogs back leg, the Republican party does a couple of things that make them more appealing. They stay out of my pocket and they stay out of my life much more than the Democrats do.

    June 24, 2012 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
  6. Ben Meover

    Wishy washy hype and blame...again.

    June 24, 2012 06:21 am at 6:21 am |
  7. steve

    "Look no further than the comments section online to see how coarse our dialogue is getting towards one another." That statement Miss Jarrett goes directly to Barack Obama who has been the most divisive president in our history. And with your help as an adviser the problems with a divided country have gotten worse. The plan is to play one segment against another, ie, gays latinos, young people against anyone who disagrees with the Obama agenda. I read the book by Ed Klein, "The Amateur." That publication has helped me understand how ridiculous the Obama agenda is.

    June 24, 2012 06:41 am at 6:41 am |
  8. pray

    Wow, I think Obama could beat up an old lady and Valerie Jarrett would justify it somehow.

    June 24, 2012 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  9. Cinchy

    She didn't exactly say anything compelling in this piece to defend Obama, other than to say the administration got out maneuvered and the Republicans are tough opponents. By the way, there's no way Obamacare can be considered constitutional. If any justices try to uphold, they clearly have an agenda.

    June 24, 2012 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  10. Jaggar

    Are you kidding me? First of all, if any white president had a session with the a group called the National Association of WHITE JOURNALISTS, the blacks would be all over it! Affordable Health Care Act? Affordable for whom? My health care costs have sky rocketted, because I am now having to pay more to support those who do not pay. Obama is all about give more the the lazy at the expese of those who work hard. Yes, he did come out in an election year to suddeenly support gays. Yes, he did give amnesty to younger illegals in an election year. The republicans want Obama to have a budget and stop spending to bankrupt this country! Please- tell the blacks what you want and they will buy it!

    June 24, 2012 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  11. Dr. Claude

    It is interesting to hear the Democrat talking heads blame the Republicans for being obstructionists. Of course they, the Republicans, had to stand up to insane spending, out of control and devastating over-regulation and ill conceived Obamacare. Of course they had to object to the curruption we have seen in this administration more than any other before. Funding on taxpayers' tab of a dying solar panel company in spite of the financial experts' advice not to do so, providing arms to the drug cartels, extravagant luxury travel and, most importantly, rigid obstructionism to any attempt by Congress (the voice of "we the people) to inquire into the administration's abuses and mistakes and find the truth. Corruption and cover up will generate obstruction by the people we elected to keep this country on track. Thank God! (Yes, there is a God even if this administration is trying to deny it). Obviously, it is this administration that is driving the bus off the cliff. Fortunately, November is not too far and we can retake our country from the elitist, socialist dishonest people we have in power.

    June 24, 2012 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  12. Patrick O'Donnell

    There is no such legistation as "Obamacare". There is a piiece of legistation called the Affordable Care act, currently being revied by the Supreme Court. Anyone who calls it Obamacre, shows there priorties as to "get Obma" at the expence of the American People. Tens of thousands will die because of a lack of health insurance in a country with the most advanced health care system in the world. Their blood will be on the ":Obamacare": crowd's hands.. I hope they can live with that. Legislators and thr Supreme Court Justices have the best health care insurance in the world. So much for Democracy!

    June 24, 2012 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  13. Enodano

    “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.” Absolutely true

    June 24, 2012 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  14. jim

    I wonder how the Democrats are going to try to buy off the Supreme Court. They are much harder to bribe than a couple of disreputable congressmen/women. Being appointed for life gives them an unfair advantage in "negotiations". Damned Constitution!

    June 24, 2012 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  15. Independent jim

    the worst thing to happen to our country was the 2012 election when a few Fascist calling themselves TeaParty Patriots took over the republican party ..our country has gone down hill from that 2010 election and we will not recover until we the people vote those corporate stooge Fascists out in 2012

    June 24, 2012 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  16. Jim McDonald

    Thank God the founding Fathers gave us a system of checks & balances to protect us from government power grabs like this.

    June 24, 2012 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  17. saveg1

    Why is she even speaking ? She's not an elected official.. To go in front of a crowd of "Black Jounalist" and spew excuses as talking points smells of desperation..

    June 24, 2012 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  18. cigarman

    Either way that the Supreme Court rules, OBAMA is a winner. If the Supreme Court rules in his favor, he has done a very good thing for the people of the United States. If the Supreme court rules against Obama, He has plenty of Fire-power against the Republicans in the upcoming Elections. Either way, Obama and the Democrats WIN.

    June 24, 2012 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  19. Jokesterer

    We have to repeal it to find out what's not in it.

    June 24, 2012 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  20. Johnny DC

    Keep serving up liberal dribble and we conservatives will keep hitting it out of the park.

    There's nothing wrong with saying "no" to everything when everything being offered is horrific, job-killing, anti-american policy.

    June 24, 2012 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  21. Notea4me

    I think the court will uphold the law. And I think the republicans will be embarassed in years to come for the the things they have done over the last 4 years.

    June 24, 2012 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  22. wondering

    "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."

    The heart of the matter is what is detrimental to the American people. Are we better off being in good health as we go broke?

    June 24, 2012 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  23. Anonymous

    I guess she has never listened to Harry Reid. He is the biggest obstructionist and the reason for the log jam in Congress. His great idea of compromise after the mid-term elections in 2010 seems to be "just do it my way and we will all get along."

    June 24, 2012 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  24. riley

    It's one failure after another with this president.

    June 24, 2012 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  25. Donald

    "The Affordable Care Act is a very important piece of legislation that we spent a great deal of time crafting" and yet no one read it before it was passed?? And yet they blame republicans when it was a majority democrat house/senate? And yet they close their ears to the majority of Americans that have protested this bill?

    June 24, 2012 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
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