House Majority Leader Eric Cantor reacts to the Supreme Court decision on Obamacare
HH: Joined now by the United States Congress Majority Leader, Eric Cantor of Virginia. Leader Cantor, welcome, what do you make of today’s Supreme Court decision?
EC: Well, Hugh, it’s good to be on. I think it’s clear the decision today underscores the importance of the choice the voters have this November. Without a doubt, it is about the direction our country takes, and today obviously demonstrated that the Court ruled in favor of the direction that President Obama wants to take us, which is a lot more government in terms of its involvement in our health care, and a lot less freedom.
HH: There are lots of outcries today directed at the Chief Justice, and whether or not he’s a new Earl Warren. I reject those, but I wonder within the Republican Caucus, is there shock, surprise that the Chief Justice wrote this?
EC: Well, you know, I think, certainly I think that the decision was a surprise for a lot of folks. I think the conventional wisdom had been somehow or another that the individual mandate would have been struck down. But as you know, the Chief Justice in his opinion did say that the individual mandate under the Commerce Clause was unconstitutional, but somehow legitimized the mandate as a tax. But the interesting thing is, Hugh, that President Obama said consistently that it wasn’t a tax. The Democrats, when they passed the bill on the floor of the House, Nancy Pelosi, number one, said this is not a tax. And in fact, I think, what the people now see is they were misled. This is a tax. The Court’s final word was that the only way this mandate is upheld Constitutionally, it’s a tax.
HH: Yeah, Leader Cantor, I’m with a group of lawyers today who are all very concerned over the door that has been opened, that in many respects now the power of the elected branch is unlimited if they simply attach a tax to any activity. Is that concern on your mind as you look at what happens if Nancy Pelosi takes back the gavel?
EC: Absolutely. Again, it goes back to, I think, my sense is it underscores that elections have consequences, that this election coming up this November is more important than any I can remember, because of this very notion that you put the wrong people in office, and Lord knows what could come of their policies. And again, this legal opinion that has come down has validated the ability for the government to pretty much tax anything, or lack of something. And it’s, I think, a wake up call for all Americans to get engaged in the debate, and to pay attention and go to the polls in November if they want to have a say in the direction that our country takes. And I hope that the decision, and I’m confident that the decision of the American people will be the right one, that we can reclaim America, we can allow for government to return to its proper place in that Jeffersonian view of a limited and responsible government, and promote individual freedom.
HH: Now Leader Cantor, the Medicaid provisions of today’s decision have left us with a situation that’s truly mystifying. Some states will simply not do this, will not go along. Other states will become magnets for those who want the benefits of Obamacare that they cannot get in their own states. And they will adversely select entire states like my own, which will no doubt give them the world. You know, California does that. Would this law have passed if there had been an opt out provision in it for the states on Medicaid?
EC: Well, you know, what I can say, Hugh, is first of all, in any instance or outcome, it’ll be that the federal government and taxpayers are going to be on the hook for more, because states now no longer are going to be tied to this disincentive that the Court struck down as unconstitutional. So if states choose to opt out, you know the federal government will be there to just step in. And this is the problem. We don’t have the money. Taxpayers, you know, they ought not be funding any more of an expansion of government. And you know, you know how it goes in this town. And that’s why we’ve got to win this election, Hugh. That’s why we’ve got to turn the corner, and make it so that we can get back to reason, live within our means, return health care back to what most people feel is necessary in this country, and that is health care that is patient-based, not health care determined by a bureaucrat in Washington. And that’s what we’re going to do after the July 4th recess. We’re going to go and put a repeal bill on the floor again, July 11th. We’re going to vote up or down to make sure that we see who’s really with the people of the country or not.
HH: Now the Romney campaign has registered tens of thousands of new contributors and volunteers today at MittRomney.com. And I’m wondering if the National Republican Congressional Committee is seeing the same sort of surge in activism dedicated to, okay, the Court’s not going to save us, we have to save ourselves from Obamacare?
EC: You know, I think it’s a great point that the Court may have upheld the legality or Constitutionality of the law in its view, but it didn’t say that the policy was right or just. And that’s for the people to decide. And that’s what elections are for. And yes, I have seen an increased level of intensity, especially in the new media space. When you look at the activity online, it’s been tremendous today, which I take as a good sign.
HH: Now Leader Cantor, you also held the Attorney General of the United States in contempt today, which is an extraordinary thing. I have worked for two of them – Bill Smith and Ed Meese, neither of whom would ever have let that happen. The consequences of that, however, are obscure. What do you think they are, other than political?
EC: Well, you know, I’m told that it is the first time ever that an attorney general is held in contempt by Congress. And what the votes were today was one, a vote for criminal contempt, and the other one was to authorize a proceeding to engage in a civil contempt claim. And the reason why our Congress and the House chose to do that was it was anticipated that the Justice Department would not pursue the enforcement of this law, which then would call for the need for another outside attorney to pursue this civil claim. And you know, it is, I don’t think anybody relishes being where we are, but the bottom line was the Attorney General refused to produce documents to allow for the family of the border agent to have some closure and understand the truth of the situation, nor did the Attorney General seem interested in allowing the American people full information as to what’s happened to ensure that it never happens again. And unfortunately, the administration, the President, stepped in and asserted executive privilege at the 11th and a half hour, after having made it known that he didn’t have anything to do with it. So again, very disappointing, but it is about making sure that we can enforce the law in this country, and the American people are given their right to know.
HH: And a last question, Leader Cantor. The voters elect Chris Christie. They elect Bob McDonnell. They elect Scott Brown. They elect the Congress in 2010. They have five votes on the Supreme Court. This is, this law is so aggravating. People lose faith in the ability of having the government hear them. What do you say to them?
EC: Well, I say to them please get engaged in the debate today, and remember to go to the polls in November. You know, the choice has never been clearer as to the direction of this country. If we believe in a country of freedom, of limited government, we’ve got to change who’s in the White House, and who controls the Senate so that we can go about effecting the kind of good policy that promotes freedom.
HH: Eric Cantor, thank you for joining us on this historic day, the Majority Leader of the United States Congress, and hopefully the leader of the repeal of Obamacare in 2012 on the floor of the Congress.
End of interview.