Axelrod dismisses political and legal challenges to health care legislation

In an interview with the News Hour’s Judy Woodroof, White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod welcomed the ongoing political fight over health care legislation signed into law Tuesday morning. We’ll run on the benefits it brings, he said, and the opposition can run on “putting the insurance companies back in the driver’s seat.”

He also mocked Republican leader Sen. John McCain’s assertion that GOP lawmakers, angered at the way the bill was passed, would not work on anything with Democrats for the rest of the year.

“You know, that’s more appropriate to a sandlot than to governance of the country.”

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AXELROD: In terms of the tone in this town, we’re just going to keep on working with whomever wants to work with us. I was disappointed this morning to see Senator McCain say the Republicans won’t work with the president on anything for the rest of the year as punishment because they’re unhappy about the passage of the health insurance bill.

You know, that’s more appropriate to a sandlot than to governance of this country. He’s a great — he’s a good man, Senator McCain. And he’s shown independence in the past. So, I hate to hear that. And I hope that we can overcome that spirit and work together to solve other problems.

McCain sent out a fundraiser email Monday vowing to work to repeal the legislation. His bluster, though, may have been undercut by his pitch for campaign donations, which cast the commitment to repeal under the light of mere campaign politics. The pitch also underlined his weakness as a vulnerable party leader.

I am currently working in every way possible on your behalf to accomplish this [repeal]. However, I am facing a tough reelection campaign. If I am not reelected this year, I cannot fight for our shared values in the Senate. That’s why your immediate donation of any amount is so critical.

Here’s Axelrod on the political and legal challenges.

WOODRUFF: Well, finally, most immediately, you have got to get it through the Senate this week. And then you have got talk by Republicans they’re going to try to repeal it. And then you have got in the state these legal challenges, attorneys general saying they’re going to try to make sure it doesn’t take effect in their states.

How concerned are you that it is going to stand up to all these challenges?

DAVID AXELROD: Oh, I’m very — I’m very — I’m very confident.

As to the — the repeal efforts, I invite any — anyone who wants to run for public office to go to small businesses and say, you know, that 35 percent tax cut for health care you just got, we want to take that away from you, who want to — who wants to look in the eyes of a child with a preexisting condition who now will get coverage and say, you know what, we don’t think that was the right thing to do, or tell people whose lifetime caps are now coming off their insurance, so if they get sick, they won’t go bankrupt, to say, you know, we’re going to put the insurance companies back in the driver’s seat.

If people want to campaign on that, they’re welcome to do it, and we will join that debate. As for the legal challenges, there isn’t a major piece of legislation that’s been passed in this country that hasn’t endured legal challenges. We’re very confident about the constitutionality of what we’re doing here.

And, in fact, the piece that’s being challenged, the mandate, is an idea that many of the Republicans in Congress when they were talking to us about this bill thought was an absolutely essential ingredient for the plan.

So, you know, there’s the politics at play here. But, at the end of the day, we’re going to move forward. This is going to give greater security to the American people and a better future for our country. And we’re enthused about it.

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