July 1st, 2012
09:03 AM ET
9 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. vic , nashville ,tn

    @ sue
    1) "coming soon, 2010 Part 2" this time has to face occupiers
    2) Governor Ed Rendell view Obama care didn’t go far enough

    July 1, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  2. CoJo

    remember the GOP had 11 years to fix the health care system or at least make major improvements, but they did nothing. Absolutely nothing!!. I game to change my mind AFTER they come up with their plan. But they have already publicly stated, if they come with anything it will be a looong time coming.
    Even Marco Rubio stated (yesterday) that the health care system has been broken for a long time. Where is his solution?
    obviously there are things about obamacare that people like. Why did it take obamacare to get health insurance to improve? Why didn't GOP come up with those ideas long ago? If GOP had done their jobs some time during the past 11 years, maybe we would NOT have need obamacare. Nor would we have had a financial meltdown either.... Remember, it was Trump that said the Bush's time gave us Obama...GOP did not earn their big bucks

    it is a place to start. Even the GOP acknowledges the system has been broken for a long time. They put nothing forward to improvement the system. Just like the republicans forced a federal mandate on the states with NCLB, which was also poorly implemented and very costly, but everyone does agree, the idea is good and they are going to work on what parts didn't work. I'm game to change my mind after the GOP does their job and come put forth a better plan (even a non-mandated plan) but I highly doubt the GOP has the nerve to do something even Hillary attempted years ago. Yes she failed, but she tried. GOP has not even tried (good leaders try).

    you realize that the "tax/penality" is for the free loaders, not the people who already have health insurance

    July 1, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  3. Phil Thomas

    It would be nice to move on but keep picking this fight GOP, it's not overly complicated and it will back fire, you lost on two counts health care and immigration by a supreme court that's as right as you will ever get. Americans hate sore losers, you argued for years you had the constitution on your side and now you need to pivot now but my fellow Americans won't fall for your ads because at our core we may feel bad for losers but we hate sore losers. Lose with dignity and move on to something else like maybe creating jobs and working with the president for a change

    July 1, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  4. Name Al Q

    Candy Crowley lets the Republicans boldly lie. If it was a Democrat she would be all over them. More then one of her guests said " largest tax increase ever" Good way to help them lie to the Americans.

    July 1, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  5. charles

    This string proves that the Republicans have them brainwashed with no facts at their disposal. That's the problem in politics. The ACA was itself a comprimise with Republicans and then they were against it. The ACA is available online. Read it before you start putting it down. You have absolutely no clue as to what you're talking about.

    Do you think that helping the poor get medical will destroy you? You've been doing that since 1776. Do you think that your fellow Americans that can't afford something it's because they're stupid lazy liberals. That is not true. What happened to loving your neighbour? The USA was built on team work and I don't see much here.

    A healthy USA is a productive USA. And that is good capitalism. So get over it.

    July 1, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  6. Orwell sees it, again & again

    Republicans can't get over it, they got nothing else to offer besides ripping off the country.

    July 1, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  7. Phil Thomas

    Cc you don't know what you ate talking about, read the bill. The message you typed is right wing rhetoric, give more detail and lets debate this. How will it adversely impact you ? I hear talking points on these boards from the right, never any detail and the talking points change over the years. Death panels being an example and when you let Sarah plain act as your spokesperson on this well that says it all

    July 1, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  8. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Republicans are fighting to keep President Obama from succeeding, they healthcare is just a tool they are using since he's also making progress on jobs. Republicans are bouncing all over the place in confusion, they don't know what to do next; first it was Obama's same sex law, then it was Obama's immigration law, next Obamacare, REPUBLICANS DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO NEXT BUT ONE THING FOR SURE THEY AREN'T DOING THEIR JOB, they're a joke and an embarrassment to call themselves Congressmen/women.

    July 1, 2012 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  9. Obamacare = Obama cares about the young, elderly, poor and disabled. Romneycare = "I don't care about the poor"! Repeal? Replace? With What?

    Call it a tax, penalty or fine, it is the law of the land and is constitutional as stated by the SCOTUS but it appears the GOP cannot handle the truth.

    The only folks paying a (insert word of choice here) that make less than 250,000 per year beginning 2014 and will be owed in 2015, are the irresponsible "freeloaders" that will be irresponsible and can afford insurance, but decide NOT to buy health insurance, and will show up at the ER for service and then force the bill on all of us responsible taxpayers and health insurance owners.

    I for one would be fine if there was a reception desk at every ER that would check to see if you had insurance and if not, said "sorry, no shoes, no shirt, no insurance, NO SERVICE"!

    And that could be considered a death penalty, or some might say justice, but if that is a "death panel" then what is a panel of suits sitting in a private insurance board room stating the bottom line would take a hit if customers with preexisting conditions were allowed to purchase insurance?


    July 1, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  10. MDNA = MaDge Not Applicable!

    Penalty vs. Tax?

    Really? Semantics is all the GOP tea baggers have? They want to spend the next 4 months yammerin' about this?

    Perhaps the sore losers should grow up and realize ACA has been the law of the land since 2010 and was ordained as Constitutional Thursday. Perhaps, working to change what the GOP does not like about in a COMPROMISE, would be time better spent, then wasting valuable time on voting to repeal it,(like it will ever see the light of day in the Senate). Put on your big boy/girl pants on and get to work, but for all of our sanity, stop the infernal whining, you lost, accept it and move on.

    July 1, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  11. Dave R.

    Republicans got SCOTUS to rule in favor Citizens United and 2nd Amendment gun rights. They need to shut up now.

    July 1, 2012 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  12. Gurgyl

    PS: a shrewd president in USA history. He needs strong security.

    July 1, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  13. HenryMiller

    "...needs to be fully implemented before Americans assess its merit."

    That's like saying you need to actually pull the trigger before you can find out if shooting yourself in the head is really lethal.

    July 1, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  14. scott

    Of course you want them to get over it You know it is going to sink your boss, with this high tax everyone must pay even the middle class. Ya Obama is a defender of the middle class, that's a laugh. TAX TAX TAX the middle class is Obama's message

    July 1, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  15. manhandler1

    Listen to the Republicans. Boo Hoo Hoo....Wah Wah Wah....Hand ringing, fist pounding, screaming little man spirited lackeys of the wealthy, the corporate and the nasty. The Party of the old, the pale and the stale just can't face it. YOU LOST! YOU LOST! AND YOU LOST! Try to get your overloaded pea brained heads out of the pillow and work on something to improve the Country. Where's that "laser focus on jobs" you huffed and puffed about in 2010?

    July 1, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  16. Sue

    Just like before the 2010 elections--it is going to be hilarious watching Democrats trying to run and hide from Obama and Obamacare!! This is especially true now that the Supreme Court confirmed that Obamacare is a TAX--the largest tax ever passed in our country!! The truth about Obama/Democrats tax through Obamacare is NOT going away-no matter how much Obama and the Democrats want it to do so. Obama and Obamacare will be exposed as the TAX that it is-from now until election day!! Good luck Obama/Democrats on running on the largest tax ever forced on US citizens in the history of our country!!

    July 1, 2012 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  17. Dawn

    Whoa. In Mass. you can buy catastrophic only, under Obamacare you have to buy a full coverage plan. Catastrophic is cheap and perfect for young & healthy people and that's the only reason the law worked in Mass.
    These guys are dreaming if they think the young & healthy are going to pay 8k a year for coverage they will never use.

    July 1, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  18. Steve in S.F.

    Lew, how can you justifying lying through your teeth on the talk shows today. The Supreme Court was very clear that the ObamaCare "penalty" is not a penalty, but rather a tax that will have a major impact on the middle class. I would suggest that you read the ruling and start telling the truth. I voted for your boss in 2008, but he has been a complete failure. Has not lived up to any of his campaign promises, will not accept responsibility for anything that has occurred over the past 3 1/2 years, has done nothing to improve the economy, to create jobs, to work with Congress and can only blame the Republicans. Harry Reid has not brought a budget to the Senate Floor in over 1,000 days. His Senate, which by the way is controlled by Democrats, even voted down Obama's budget proposal. Obama has put the nation $5 trillion in debt, unemployment is at 8.2%, we've lost our savings, our homes and your administration has done nothing but attempt to create class warfare.

    July 1, 2012 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  19. Larry L


    As former PA Democratic Governor Ed Rendell said the day after the Supreme Court ruling.........."Obamacare is like an albatross around our necks".
    You're assuming the Tea Party understands your reference to the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner. Good luck with that...

    Still you may be on to something. The albatross was leading them out of the Antarctic but, even as the albatross is praised by the ship's crew, the Mariner shoots the bird. Americans liked the provisions of the health bill but were fooled by the millions spent on negative advertising and outright lies about the mandate required to fund it. The Republicans were like the Sailor who "killed the albatross" – except they were blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court. So rather than disaster (like no healthcare for over 30 million people) we move on to "fair winds and calm seas". The Republicans must wear the albatross around their necks as a symbol to the American people of their disregard for anybody but the very wealthy fat-cats who pay their bills. I'm sure that what you meant...

    July 1, 2012 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  20. Name willardbullock

    I warning to nancy pespois
    What about frauad check scam from afrcian amercian
    I mocked out of presdient obama what about frauad check scam from afrcian amercian

    July 1, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  21. Jawknee

    SEAL Team Alpha and Omega says:
    July 1, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm

    You know no not what you speak. Jesus told the individual to help the sick and the poor. Not pass a freedom stealing law that sucks the lifeblood out of its citizens so the government can do it for you.

    You are no more a Christian than Obama is a Good Constitutional president.

    July 1, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  22. PrincetonAl

    Shorter Jack Lew: "You lost, so get over it"

    Shorter response: "See you in November"

    July 1, 2012 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  23. Jawknee

    It matters not to liberals that we can't afford this. Regardless of whether one thinks Roberts ruling was correct or not, this is unaffordable and unsustainable but you moochers don't care as long as you get your piece of our wound class pie do you?

    July 1, 2012 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  24. george p.

    Guess what Lew la Belle'? We'll decide that. Your new BFF Roberts said if we don't like it..throw you out. 2012=2010 it's a comin' get ready.

    July 1, 2012 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
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