Senator John Cornyn on the Supreme Court Obamacare Decision
HH: Joined now by United States Senator John Cornyn. Senator, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show, your reaction to the Supreme Court decision today?
JC: Well, I’m surprised and a little disappointed, Hugh, but what the Court has done, it’s now done its job. And now it’s incumbent on Congress to do its job. This remains a tremendously unpopular piece of legislation, one that’s, we can’t afford. And indeed, with some parts of the decisions made, particularly with regard to Medicaid, it’s actually going to run up costs much more than originally were anticipated. So this is a bad law that needs to be repealed and replaced with legislation that will actually bring down the costs of health care, make it more affordable to people, and not substitute the government’s judgment for that of patients and their doctor.
HH: Senator Cornyn, some states will opt out of Medicaid today under the Chief Justice’s opinion…
JC: That’s right.
HH: …which will leave states like my state, California, attracting those populations that won’t be covered in states like yours, Texas. Doesn’t this increase the likelihood of rapid bankruptcy in some places?
JC: Well, I think it certainly risks that. And we’re still trying to digest this, but you’re right. If, in fact, states choose not to expand their Medicaid coverage as the Obamacare would require, the Supreme Court said they can’t be forced to do so and penalized by cutting off the federal share of Medicaid. So what happens, I think, is that many more people become eligible for a taxpayer-subsidized insurance that could be purchased in these state-based insurance exchanges. Not to get too down in the weeds, but that’s a lot more expensive, and the original estimates that were made as to how much it would cost, I think, dramatically underestimated the eventual costs. So these costs are going to explode, and rather than a two and a half trillion dollar bill, I think we’re going to see something that’s just completely unworkable.
HH: Chief Justice Roberts was my colleague in the Reagan White House, Senator, and I have utmost respect for his integrity. But I am surprised, and I genuinely believe he thought he had to uphold it. But are you surprised? You voted for him, you know him, you examined him under, on the Judiciary Committee not once, but twice. Are you surprised by this reliance on the taxing authority here?
JC: Well, I guess I’m not from the standpoint as you may recall, Hugh, I used to be a judge for thirteen years. And as a lawyer yourself, fine lawyer yourself, you know that the judge’s responsibility is different from that of a policy maker. And if there is an alternative basis upon which the acts of Congress can be upheld, it’s the obligation, exercise of judicial restraint of that judge, to uphold it. And that’s the way I interpreted his action, although it’s clear he didn’t pass on the fairness or the wisdom of the policy, nor really is that his job. So that’s why I say it’s now our job.
HH: A lot of angry comments on the Twitterverse and other places…
HH: …such as he’s Earl Warren, he’s gone David Souter on us. I think those are all unfair, but you’re hearing them. What’s your response to those people who are saying the Republicans got fooled again by a judicial appointment?
JC: Well, I don’t, I simply don’t believe this outcome proves that. And I am an admirer of Chief Justice Roberts. I think he is, did much good work in this opinion, these opinions, because clearly he said that the Commerce Clause would not allow this kind of vast overreach. But if you call it a tax, under the Constitution, that’s allowed. And I think also the provisions he made, the opinion he wrote with regard to the unfunded Medicaid mandate is a good decision. But I understand people’s disappointment, but I hope they focus their attention on Congress, the people who passed this monstrosity in the first place, and the President who now believes this is his signal achievement. And I hope they remember that when they go vote in November.
HH: I hope they get involved in the Mitt Romney campaign as they are doing by the tens of thousands today, and they can do that at Hughhewitt.com at the Act Right button as well. But Senator, there are lots of provisions of the Obamacare bill that haven’t been challenged. This was really limited to the mandate and the Medicaid provisions. Do you expect that language in the Chief Justice’s opinion with regards to the Commerce Clause authority, joined up by the four dissenters to provide the basis for subsequent attacks on other parts of the law?
JC: Well, I think it certainly could, and I think to your point, I think now we have a principled line being drawn with regard to the authority of the federal government in subsequent acts of legislation. And I think my theory is that Obamacare will, if not struck down as unconstitutional, simply collapse, because it’s unworkable and it’s unaffordable. But I think that’s why the elections are so important, because I know, I can tell you that I’m committed to doing everything I can to repeal it and replace it with more affordable coverage, and that doesn’t intrude big government in the decisions made by patients and their doctors.
HH: Senator John Cornyn from the great state of Texas, thank you, Senator.
End of interview.