Obama Responds To Supreme Court Health Care Ruling (VIDEO)
WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama praised the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision that his signature health care law was constitutional Thursday, calling the ruling "a victory for people all over this country."
"The highest court in the land has now spoken. We will continue to implement this law," he said, speaking to cameras in the East Room of the White House. "With today's announcement it is time for us to move forward, to implement and when necessary improve on this law."
The ruling is a huge win and a big relief for the administration, which spent 18 months and heavy political capital pushing health care reform through Congress. The president has had other achievements on the domestic and foreign policy fronts, but it's fair to say that the passage of the Affordable Care Act was at the top of his list of accomplishments. That the court upheld the law's constitutionality was almost as momentous as the law's passage in the first place.
The political fallout from the ruling seems clear. Congressional Republicans and the party's presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney have pledged to replace the law with a new set of reforms. And in the immediate aftermath of the decision, they reaffirmed their pledge to wipe the law off the books following the 2012 elections.
The president, for his part, used his address to detail the policy prescriptions within the law -- an implicit recognition that the administration has done a poor job selling it to date.
"It should be pretty clear that I didn't do this because it's good politics," Obama said. "I did it because it's good for the country."
The president also addressed the court's decision to uphold the most controversial component of the bill, the individual mandate, arguing that it was essential to making the rest of the reforms work. He acknowledged that he himself had once opposed the idea, only to come around. The president added that conservatives, including Romney, had supported the concept in the past.
"We ultimately included a provision in the Affordable Care Act that people who could afford to buy health insurance should take the opportunity to do so," he said.