July 1st, 2012
09:03 AM ET
2 years ago

Obama chief of staff: Time to get over debate

(CNN) - Jack Lew, the White House chief of staff, said Sunday the Supreme Court decision upholding President Barack Obama's health care measure should put to rest the national debate over the law's practicality.

Speaking on CNN's "State of the Union," Lew said the Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law in 2010, needs to be fully implemented before Americans assess its merit, and that detractors of the law, including Obama's opponent in the 2012 presidential election, were using it to divide the country.

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"This was a plan that Gov. Romney supported," Lew said, "and it's something that I would have thought he would be proud of."

The national debate over the law, which has been ongoing since the law was implemented, can now end with the court's ruling, Lew said.

"It's time now to get over the debate and implement that law," he told CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley. "What the American people don't want is, they don't want to be taken back to the old divisive debate. They want to get on with it, and they want us to be focusing on economic growth and creating jobs."

The Supreme Court's 5-4 decision, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, said the law's individual mandate to obtain health insurance could stand under Congress' power to levy taxes. Lew maintained that ruling should end all questions about the measure's legality.

"I think one of the great things about this country is that we have a Supreme Court and when it rules, we have a final judgment," Lew said. "So there's not a question now on whether or not the law is constitutional. It is constitutional."

He continued, "I think health care has been a divisive debate for many years. It's a very personal issue for people. They understand that health care is a big part of their lives. And frankly they hear a political debate that makes it more, not less, divisive."

Despite Lew's proclamation that debate should now end on the law, Republicans this week signaled they were not retreating in their battle against the president's plan. Romney, speaking soon after the court's ruling was handed down, renewed his vow to repeal the law.

And House Republicans, who have seized on Roberts' assertion the law could stand as a tax, scheduled a vote to repeal the law in early July.

Lew dismissed the tax argument Sunday, saying that Obama and his team were ready to take on Republicans who claim the law represents a tax hike.

"The law is clear. It's called a penalty," Lew said, saying the fine imposed on people who choose not to get health insurance would only affect 1% of Americans.

"Everyone who has insurance, everyone who chooses to get insurance, will not pay it," Lew said. "What they are going to get is security, lower premiums, and better health care."

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Filed under: Health care • Jack Lew • TV-State of the Union • White House
soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    The right wingnuts have distorted the ACA to the tune of $750 million. They said it was socialism but the health industry is still private. They said it was socialism to expect deadbeats who show up at emergency rooms and we pay for it even though they can afford insurance and refuse to have it. Now they say it is a tax on the middle class, yet the only ones who get 'taxed' are those who do not have insurance. The GOP still wants to repeal social security, medicare, VA benefits, civil rights acts, wall street regulations, the minimum wage act, and a host of other programs for the poor.

    July 1, 2012 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  2. Enough is Enough

    " Lew said the Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law in 2010, needs to be fully implemented before Americans assess its merit," Its a new entitlement that we can't afford. Europre is trying to move away its bankrupting entitlement system and Obama wants more entitlements. Four more and we will be Greece.

    July 1, 2012 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  3. Stella

    Not so fast, Jack Lew. The ruling also claimed it wasn't up to the court to right BAD legislation, or vouch for it's legitimacy. Obamacare is BAD, unworkable policy. It raises the largest regressive tax on the middle class in US History during a recession. Obama chose not to fix the economy, instead–we got THIS? The voters will speak loud and clear on November 6, 2012. Mr. Obama will finally get the just and proper ruling.

    July 1, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  4. vic , nashville ,tn

    Now Republicans own “Fast and Furious” and “Obama Care”

    Brain Terry’s parents didn’t get justice, because republicans start to play politics on their son story. Getting the facts mean working together. Now we know NRA push the contempt votes GOP own this

    Even After Supreme Court decision republicans said they want to repeal Obama care , ACA is working for many people , Now GOP wants to abandon pre existing people and college students health care Now GOP own this

    July 1, 2012 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  5. Are you kidding me?

    It's time the GOP accept the ACA and move away from hyperpartisanship. They had plenty of opportunities to work with the democrats in good faith to craft the law so everyone would be happy – or at least a majority.

    the arguments made this week by the GOP after the decision is pure propaganda and no wher close to factual.

    The American people deserve better from the GOP in office. The party line of obstructionism, filibustering, and immaturity should not be erraticated.

    July 1, 2012 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  6. Lynda/Minnesota

    "So there's not a question now on whether or not the law is constitutional. It is constitutional."

    Oh, it's constitutional ... it was always constitutional. Just ask Mitt Romney, who enacted the same "penalty" in his pet cause now dubbed RomneyCare. Including this same penalty which he is quite proud of himself. At the time, he spoke about the uninsured whom he called freeloaders. Something about how it was time they got what they deserved. You know - penalized for freeloading using Emergency Rooms are their own special "treat" to themselves.

    So yeah. It's over, TeaPers. You only need to look as far as Chris Christie to understand just how over it is. Mitt's bad boy surrogate isn't feeling the TeamRomney love anymore ... and is likely to continue taking that out on media.

    Thank you John Roberts for finally bringing the three year GOPer temper tantrum to it's stumbling end.

    July 1, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  7. Ancient Texan

    Uh, Obama has already split the Nation with his devisive class warfare. How is further discussion on a very bad law doing any damage?

    July 1, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  8. King

    these epubs keep yapping that obamacare will kill businesses, yet businesses have been making profits

    July 1, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  9. Free Man in the Republic of Texas

    GET OVER LOSS OF LIBERTY ???

    What do you say...

    How about a new "TAX" for NOT purchasing an NRA membership ???
    How about a new "TAX" for NOT purchasing a VOLT from government motors

    MOVING FORWARD ???

    July 1, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  10. Tony

    Sorry, Jack, Republicans do not give up on things that they promise to do, except for jobs bills or cutting deficits. They do have excuses. On jobs bills, Republicans believe that cutting taxes for the rich will lead to job creation, assuming that the rich don't just keep the money. On cutting deficits, as soon as the extra revenue arrives from cutting taxes, the deficits will go away. You see, the rich will reinvest the money from the tax cuts to create jobs, and this will result in so much economic activity that the government will end up with more tax revenue, assuming that the rich don't just keep the money. As to why the Bush tax cuts have not resulted in job creation, the rich just have not gotten around to doing it. They will do it, as soon as Romney gives them another 20% tax cut.

    July 1, 2012 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  11. Undecidedvoter

    "This was a plan that Gov. Romney supported," Lew said....
    After the Supreme Court upheld the ACA...Romney said something every similar to Obamacare......now he oppose it...he just doing sth to be elected....this guy is flip-flop all the times from day to day...American people dont like that....I dont like him it is not becuz he is a Republican...I dont like him it is not becuz he is rich...i dont like him becuz he doesnt hav his own idea or stand on his principal...he always changes his words...that why I wont vote for him as a President....

    July 1, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  12. vic , nashville ,tn

    2010 republicans called Obama care “Death panel”

    2012 democrats calling Repeal Obama care is “ Death panel” ( pre existing people will lose their health insurance)

    July 1, 2012 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  13. Republicans - "The Not Intended to Be Factually Accurate" Party

    The Republican Party does not conduct itself with honor. Its time for the Democrats to take HARD LEFT positions on EVERYTHING. That way, they counteract the Rightwing strategy to always pull things in their direction. If Democrats always compromise, the right, over time wins. It`s time to push for SINGLE PAYER.

    July 1, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  14. Name

    more than 300 millions of American if they want to drive a car.they need to buy a car insurance,where is the different? what's more important? drive a car or take care of your health?

    July 1, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  15. w l jones

    A certain party talk about getting goverment out of people life. Shame on them because they are at the age to know when we did not have government in our life at lease some people and it were a disasterous also we would not have a constitution everbody would free lancing other word this would a lawless country. Said enough.

    July 1, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  16. juan pupio

    If you want to drive a car you need to buy a car insurance.so what's more important?now you have.a point weight in good way.

    July 1, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  17. Anonymous

    Of course they'd like to get over the debate. They never allowed one in the first place, and they got their backsides handed to them in the following election. Now that the Fuhrer is up for renewal of his self-created imperial presidency, he'd really like America to forget how much they hate this law and the sleazy way it was passed.

    July 1, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  18. Sirned

    Psssst...How about giving it a chance to work. Tweak it where it needs tweaking. If it doesn't work in the future adress it then....But let's give it a shot because right now the private industry is charging a family of 4 over 20 thousand a year for lousey healthcare when the average family makes under 50 thousand....I say let's give it a try

    July 1, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  19. NauticalMan

    This old Democrat offers some free advice to Gov. Romney and his Know Nothing, Anti-Science party. The health care law passed, is being implemented, has already helped millions of folks, and has been found Constitutional. Continuing to pound at this will be to your detriment. Niether Gov. Romney nor his party tell us what they would replace it with. Some of his wealhy friends almost caused another Great Depression and are fighting any regulation. Fine. Next time the banks and other financial institutions cause a crisis, let them go bankrupt. That's Capitalism.

    July 1, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  20. cc

    After reading how the new taxes will affect me, my family and other small businesses, obama will not get my vote. This bill clearly shows his disdain with the private sector.

    July 1, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  21. Sue

    The Supreme Court confirmed that Obamacare is the largest tax in the history of our country. No wonder Obama and the Democrats do not want any more talk/debate and exposure of Obamacare!! Good luck Democrats running for election/reelection-including Obama--after it was confirmed for voters that Obamacare is a tax-the largest tax ever passed in our country!! No matter how much Obama and the Democrats want this to go away, it is NOT!! Obama and his tax will be exposed until election day in November!!

    July 1, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  22. Bren

    Wait until the military members and their families figure out that they are also going to be taxed on their healthcare--because they have "cadillac" health care plans!! Not just military members/families--anyone that Obama/Dems determine to have "cadillac" health care plans. Romney and the Republicans should be speaking at as many VFWs, American Legions, etc as possible--to make as many military members and their families aware of this as possible!!

    July 1, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  23. vic , nashville ,tn

    @ sue
    Tax and penalty both goes to government
    Obama willing to debate ACA with Romney, Romney has more explanation do now
    Democrats ready to challenge republicans on repealing ACA, denying ACA for pre existing condition is real death panel

    July 1, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  24. Sue

    Remember what happened in the 2010 elections after Obamacare was shoved down our throats. Romney and the Republicans should make/sell their own teeshirts....The teeshirts can say....."coming soon, 2010 Part 2"

    July 1, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  25. Sue

    As former PA Democratic Governor Ed Rendell said the day after the Supreme Court ruling.........."Obamacare is like an albatross around our necks".

    July 1, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
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