RGA Chairman McDonnell: Obamacare Deals 'Huge Blow' to Constitution

Monday, 05 Dec 2011 09:50 PM

By Martin Gould and Ashley Martella

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The Supreme Court must quash President Barack Obama’s healthcare law to avoid “a huge blow to the Constitution,” Republican Governors Association Chairman Bob McDonnell tells Newsmax.

The Founding Fathers didn’t envision the Constitution’s Commerce Clause “to be construed so broadly by a court that it would permit the United States Congress to tell you or me that we have to buy a product of insurance and if we don’t that we are going to get fined. That’s what Obamacare does,” the Virginia governor said in an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV.

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Virginia, through Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, has been at the forefront of the battle to get Obamacare overturned in the courts. The justices will hear arguments in the spring and are expected to make a ruling in June or July on its legality.

“If we lose on this, it will be a huge blow to the Constitution,” McDonnell said. “If the government can force you to buy something, and, if you don’t, to fine you, [would mean] there are very few limits left of federal power.

“This would be a horrible decision for the republic. It can only be repealed by either fixing the Constitution or fixing the federal statute.”

McDonnell, a former Virginia attorney general, said he hopes the Supreme Court makes the “right” decision, but he expressed wariness.

“When you have something in a court, you’re never confident because it’s always up to those judges and what their view is of the law,” he said.

McDonnell accepted that the intentions of the act were valid in terms of increasing access to healthcare and reducing cost, but he insisted that “it is not the right way to go.”

“So I’m hoping it will be invalidated by the United States Supreme Court. If not, then I hope we’ll elect a new Republican Senate, a new Republican president so we can repeal it through legislation.”

He is not convinced that the vote will come down to a 5-4 vote with Justice Anthony Kennedy as the deciding voice.

“We could have surprises on both sides in terms of whether they’re viewed as liberal or conservative. When it comes to this area of the extent of government power under this clause, we could have different judges do different things.”

And he said that Obama’s former solicitor general, Justice Elena Kagan, must consider recusing herself from the case because she was in the White House at the time the law was drawn up.

“There’s probably not an absolute rule on this, but there are enough guidelines,” he said, adding that she has to go if her previous work impairs her judgment.

McDonnell estimated that Obamacare would add $2.2 billion to Virginia’s state budget over 10 years. “It’s a staggering amount,” he said. “Medicaid is already about the fastest budget driver for most governors right now and, because of the existing mandates’ inflexibility, with the federal government. Now, you layer the president’s healthcare reform on top of that it is a huge unfunded mandate.”

Virginia is the only state in the union that prevents a governor standing for consecutive terms, so McDonnell will have to leave the Executive Mansion in Richmond in January 2014. He said he inherited a $6 billion budget gap when he came into power in 2010, and he is still working on closing a $1 billion shortfall now.

He said he has had to “set priorities, cut spending, reform government and find more innovative ways to do things,” but eventually there has to be a reduction in the number of state workers. Already around 3,000 of more than 100,000 state jobs have gone through a hiring freeze.

Future efficiencies will not come through across-the-board layoffs, he said. “We’ve got great state employees in Virginia. We’ve been asking them to do more with less, to work smarter, and it’s worked pretty well. We’re in pretty decent shape from a productivity standpoint of things.”

As far as the 2012 presidential election is concerned, McDonnell said it is important that the Republican candidate wins Virginia, a state that Obama carried in 2008. “It’s a swing state. We’re the 12th-largest state. We’ve got 13 electoral votes. A Democrat could lose Virginia and still win. It’s harder for a Republican to lose Virginia and still win because of the math.

“I’m pretty optimistic about our chances in Virginia. The president’s approval rating is pretty much under water. Mine have, fortunately, been high. People have been pleased with the direction of the state; very unhappy with the president’s leadership and the direction of the country.

“The message we’ve got right now in the Republican Party in Virginia is exactly the right message to attract the independent voters. That’s the battle.”


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