WASHINGTON WATCH ROUNDTABLE: Supreme Court Upholds ACA, What Does It Mean For The 2012 Presidential Election

Roland Martin and the Washington Watch roundtable discuss the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act and what the ruling means for the 2012 presidential election.

This week’s Washington Watch roundtable features MSNBC political analyst and former communications director for the Democratic National Committee, Karen Finney; Georgetown University political scientist, Dr. Chris Metzler; Obama 2012 pollster Cornell Belcher and Sirius XM Radio’s “Black Eagle,” Joe Madison.

MR. MARTIN:  The other big decision this week, House Republicans voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.  Politics as usual?  We’ll talk about that in a few, but first, what will the Supreme Court decision mean for the President, going forward to the November election?

Here to sort that out:  MSNBC political analyst and former communications director for the Democratic National Committee, Karen Finney; Georgetown University political scientist, Dr. Chris Metzler, who is sort of like a psychiatrist for conservatives this week after –

DR. CHRIS METZLER:  [Chuckles.]

MR. MARTIN:  — the Supreme Court decision –


MR. JOE MADISON:  [Laughs.]

MR. MARTIN:  — Obama 2012 pollster and fashion guru Cornell Belcher


MR. BELCHER:  [Chuckles.]

MR. MARTIN:  — who is kickin’ it this week with the sherbet ‘n’ strawb- — whatever – tie and whatever that jacket is.  All right.


MR. MARTIN:  And always cool – you know, he got the summer suit on – the Sirius XM Radio’s “Black Eagle,” Joe Madison.

Joe actually had a really cool hat ‘n’ shades he wanted to wear, but he didn’t want to wear it on television.  I said –

MS. KAREN FINNEY:  Serious topic.

MR. MARTIN:  — “Ma-” – I said, “Go ahead an’ make it happen.”  “Go ’head, Joe.”

DR. METZLER:  [Chuckles.]

MR. MARTIN:  “You know you lookin’ like the playa you were in Detroit!”

MR. MADISON:  Well – well, I – I didn’t want y’all to think I was going on vacation ’cause of the Supreme Court decision.


DR. METZLER:  Oh!  Oh!

MR. MADISON:  [Chuckles.]

MR. MARTIN:  Well, le- — let’s just talk about that.  I doubt Chief Justice John Roberts might be going hunting with Dick Cheney real soon –


MR. MARTIN:  — or any other conservatives.  They are not happy with the Chief Justice after Thursday’s decision.

MS. FINNEY:  You know, they’re not, but – and there’s one thing that is very serious about what we saw this week in a couple of decisions.  Think how many times conservatives, Tea Partiers, birthers have tried to undermine the authority of this president.  You had two big decisions this week led by the Chief Justice, a conservative, who reinforced the authority of Pres. Obama – that being the power of the federal government with regard to SB 1070 and the healthcare legislation.

MR. MARTIN:  And for the person at home, SB 1070.

MS. FINNEY:  Immigration legislation –

MR. MARTIN:  Thank you.  All right.

MS. FINNEY:  — Arizona –

MR. MARTIN:  ’Cause people at home are like –

MS. FINNEY:  — we- —

MR. MARTIN:  — “I don’t know what the hell SB 1070” –

MS. FINNEY:  — that –

MR. MARTIN:  — “is.”

MS. FINNEY:  — that would be codifying racial profiling.

MR. MARTIN:  Gotcha.  The immigration bill[?].

MS. FINNEY:  So – but the point being I think it’s very important that, for – again, for those who’ve tried to undermine the legitimacy of this president, you know have a conservative chief justice reinforcing this president.

MR. MARTIN:  What’s interesting also is that Mitt Romney raised some $3 million in – in the hours right after the decision.  This really emboldens, frankly, both sides.  It emboldens progressives.  It emboldens conservatives.  What does it mean for November?

MR. BELCHER:  I – I think, from a campaign standpoint, though, Republicans don’t want – and Mitt Romney certainly doesn’t want – to – to be talking about healthcare.  They want to talk about the – talk about the economy.  The more the conversation’s about healthcare, I – I think the more uncomfortable Mitt Romney is because, quite frankly, it is his healthcare plan that – that – that we, in fact, put in – put in place.  And the other –

MR. MARTIN:  ’Cause, Cornell –

MR. BELCHER:  — thing is –

MR. MARTIN:  — to that point, ’cause he probably doesn’t want to see this.

MR. BELCHER:  — [chuckles].


MR. MITT ROMNEY:  With regards to the – the mandate – the individual responsibility program, which I proposed, I was very pleased to see that – that the compromise from the two houses includes the personal responsibility principle.  That is essential for bringing healthcare costs down for everyone.


MR. MARTIN:  Now, that was Romney talking about the personal –


MR. MARTIN:  — responsibility –

MS. FINNEY:  That’s right.

MR. MARTIN:  — but when the President strolled down the hallway from the East Room –

MR. BELCHER: What hallway is that?

MR. MARTIN:  — this –

MS. FINNEY:  [Chuckles.]

MR. MARTIN:  — well, Jon Stewart called it –

MR. BELCHER:  [Chuckles.]

MR. MARTIN:  — “I Killed bin Laden Lane.”


MR. MARTIN:  That’s a great line.  Here’s what the President had to say.


PRES. OBAMA:  Today, the Supreme Court also upheld the principle that people who can afford health insurance should take the responsibility to buy health insurance.  This is important for two reasons.  First, when uninsured people who can afford coverage get sick and show up at the emergency room for care, the rest of us end up paying for their care in the form of higher premiums.  And second, if you ask insurance companies to cover people with preexisting conditions, but don’t require people who can afford it to buy their own insurance, some folks might wait until they’re sick to buy the care they need – which would also drive up everybody else’s premiums.


MR. MARTIN:  2012, Romney in 2006 – same language:  “individual responsibility.”

MR. BELCHER:  [Chuckles.]

MR. MARTIN:  I’m sorry.  Romney and the Republicans don’t have a leg to stand on.  And when he stood up there with his response, everything in it he described that he says he wants to do is the Affordable Care Act!


MS. FINNEY:  That’s right, and the Republicans – sorry, Chris –

DR. METZLER:  [Chuckles.]

MS. FINNEY:  — you know, the majority of the Republicans are now trying to shift their argument and say that this is a tax.  Romney didn’t go for that, because then he would have to defend [against], “Well, you did it in Massachusetts.  So, if you’re” –

MR. BELCHER:  Right.

MS. FINNEY:  — “against the tax, you need to explain why you were for the tax before you were against the tax.”

And the other thing, though, for Republicans is now you’ve got to campaign not just at the presidential level, but down-ballot races, on taking something away from people – taking away healthcare from their children –


MS. FINNEY:  — taking away something from their seniors, for themselves.  And think about how many Americans – I can’t tell you how many stories I heard yesterday of people talking about just the relief they felt when they realized they weren’t going to lose their healthcare.

MR. MADISON:  And it’s in the millions.  I mean we’re talking about millions of – of people.

The – what you played with the President – I wish, in that seven-minute 30-second piece that he did after the Supreme Court decision, he had done it two years ago.

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

MR. BELCHER:  Um-hum.

MR. MADISON:  It was –

MR. MARTIN:  That was the best explanation!

MR. MADISON:  — it was – my – my –


MR. MARTIN:  I mean it was sort of like, “Wow!  Really?  Finally!


MR. MADISON:  — I – I say this on my show all the time.  My grandfather used to tell me when I would come home from college espousing all this philosophy.  He would say, “Hey, Joe.  Would you put it where the goats can get it?”


MR. MADISON:  It’s an old country term.  Put it in the basic root so everybody understood it.

Secondly, I think that there’s going to be some health insurance fatigue.  I think most people are now tired of the debate.

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

MR. MADISON:  They really are tired of it – ’cause also this week, th- — Congress had to pass the transportation bill –

MR. MARTIN:  Um-hum.

MR. MADISON:  — which meant tens and tens of thousands of jobs to put people to – to work.

And – and then, finally, all this is going to embolden is really the bases.  You know, embolden progressives in the Democratic Party.  It’ll [em]bolden Republicans, conservatives, Tea Party people.  But I think where the advantage is it’s – it’s the independents, who now are not afraid to – to say, “This is constitutional.  The President wasn’t doing something that was uncon-” –

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

MR. MADISON:  — “-stitutional.”

DR. METZLER:  Well, so a couple of things.  I mean – [chuckles] – fir- — first of all – [chuckles] –

MS. FINNEY:  [Chuckles.]  Good luck.

DR. METZLER:  — yeah – [chuckles] – thanks.


DR. METZLER:  First of all, I – I think if you look at the reasoning, the Chief Justice got the reasoning wrong, and I think –


DR. METZLER:  — that’s – yes.  The Chief –

MS. FINNEY:  Okay.

DR. METZLER:  — Justice absolutely got the reasoning wrong, and here’s why.  The questi- — so – so, if, in fact, it is a tax, and Democrats wanted to pass it as a tax, and that’s what they should have done.  So, the Chief Justice comes up with this very tortuous reasoning to say, “Well, it’s a tax, but not really; but it is a tax.”  So, there’s that.

Second –

MR. MADISON:  It’s a distinction without –

MS. FINNEY:  [Crosstalk]- —

MR. MADISON:  — a difference.


MS. FINNEY:  Yes[?].

DR. METZLER:  No, no, no.

MR. MADISON:  Yes, it is.

MS. FINNEY:  [Crosstalk] –

DR. METZLER:  N- — yes, it –

MS. FINNEY:  — they did –

DR. METZLER:  — no.

MS. FINNEY:  — submit the tax argument —

MR. MADISON:  Right.


MS. FINNEY:  — secondarily.  [Crosstalk] –

DR. METZLER:  Oh, yeah.

MS. FINNEY:  — [crosstalk].  It was –

DR. METZLER:  Of course.

MS. FINNEY:  — during the Supreme Court argument.

DR. METZLER:  But the pro- —

MS. FINNEY:  So – but – but to say that – the Supreme Court justice didn’t just go pull that out of the thin air.  That was part of the argument that –

MR. MADISON:  Argument

MS. FINNEY:  — was on –

MR. MADISON:  — right.

MS. FINNEY:  — the table.

DR. METZLER:  — well, it was part of the argument, but it was also part of the wrong argument.  And it’s not a distinction without difference.  The question is –

MR. MARTIN:  Ho- — how is it “part of the wrong argument”?

MR. BELCHER:  [Laughs.]

DR. METZLER:  — well – and here’s –

MR. MARTIN:  I mean –

DR. METZLER:  — here’s –

MR. MARTIN:  — no, no, no.

DR. METZLER:  — how –

MR. MARTIN:  The reason why I’m asking [is] ’cause it’s sort of like Al Capone killed a hundred people, but he went to jail on tax evasion.  Hell, it don’t matter how he got to jail.  He went to jail.


MR. BELCHER:  [Chuckles.]

DR. METZLER:  No, no, but here’s the –

MS. FINNEY:  And – [crosstalk] –

DR. METZLER:  — issue.  It’s –

MS. FINNEY:  — [crosstalk].

MR. MARTIN:  [Chuckles.]

DR. METZLER:  — no.  No, no, no.  It’s the question of Congress’ power to taxThat’s the question.  And, in fact, Congress – you – look.  This could’ve simply been done without any appeal or any of those kinds of things if, in fact, it was passed in the first instance under the taxing power of Congress.

But be that as is – as it may, where we are at this point – I think what you see is Chief Justice Roberts – and – and you said that – something similar to this earlier.  Chief Justice Roberts is concerned about his legacy.  The Chief Justice is trying to really cement his legacy.  So, I’m not sure that it’s so much that he is saying, “The President is right.”  He – I think what he’s saying is, “I’m concerned about my legacy” –


DR. METZLER:  — “and I” –


MS. FINNEY:  [Crosstalk] – can I just say – say something?  I’m not suggesting that he – that he was saying the President’s right.  I’m saying for those who have tried to undermine the absolute legitimacy of Barack Obama as the President of the United States, who – you know there’s all this talk on the right wing about how horrible it would be, this constitutional law professor, w- — if it was unconstitutional.  The Chief Justice said, “It’s not unconstitutional.”


MS. FINNEY:  “You’re right.”

MR. BELCHER:  It – well, you know, this – this – this is painful to watch, and c-and – and it reminds me of my – my favorite line from one of my favorite movies, “Gladiator.”  People [have] got to know when they’re defeated.  You – you o- — you ought to take a[n] “L” on this.  You need to move on, ’cause tha- — that sort of twisted – [chuckles] – sort of thinking on that?  You – you guys lost the argument.  Move on!

DR. METZLER:  No.  And –

MS. FINNEY:  [Crosstalk] –

DR. METZLER:  — and I’m not saying — n- — l- — listen.

MR. MARTIN:  I mean I – it’s –

DR. METZLER:  From a –

MR. MARTIN:  — a – to me, it sort of sounds like Smokey from Friday:  “You got knocked – [pauses] – the hell out.”


MR. MARTIN:  I mean – I mean –

DR. METZLER:  [Laughs.]


MR. MARTIN:  — I mean we – [that] ain’t what he said

DR. METZLER:  [Laughs.]

MR. BELCHER:  [Laughs.]

MR. MARTIN:  — but I’m just sayin’.  I mean bo- — I mean you can try to – [rocks back and forth as if feinting].

OFF CAMERA:   Take the “L”!


MR. MADISON:  As I was listening, I – I was just waiting for you to do something that the – that folks on your side of the aisle have been doing ever since this whole debate started.  Why aren’t you calling him a “communist,” a “socialist” and a “Marxist”?  Because that’s exactly what he was called as soon as this bill was introduced and signed.

But you can’t call Roberts a “communist,” a “socialist” – first of all, you can’t be a communist, a socialist and a Marxist at –

OFF CAMERA:  All at the

MR. MADISON:  — the same time –

OFF CAMERA:  same time.


MR. MADISON:  — but – but –

MS. FINNEY:  In Sean Hannity’s –

MR. MADISON:  — but – but –

MS. FINNEY:  — world, you can, though.

MR. MADISON:  — the reality – the reality is – and it was funny how CNN and other – [a] couple o- — another network jumped at the fact –

MR. MARTIN:  You can say “Fox” on here.

MR. MADISON:  — oh – all right.  “Fox,” yeah.  I just didn’t think of it at the time, ’cause I don’t watch it.  But another – [chuckles] – network jumped at it because, “Oh!  It’s” – “It’s” – “The mandates are dead.  It’s dead!”  And people were cheering.  And they forgot to read page 2.

MR. BELCHER:  [Chuckles.]

MR. MADISON:  And – and so page 2 explained it.  If – if he was worried about his legacy, do you honestly think a conservative judge would not be celebrated today if he’d have [gone] the other way?

DR. METZLER:  No – [crosstalk]- —

MR. MADISON:  And – and his legacy – or, was it the legacy of the Court he was –

DR. METZLER:  We- — well –

MR. MADISON:  — concerned about?

DR. METZLER:  — yes.  He is concerned about the legacy of the Court.  And as the Chief Justice post Rehnquist, this is part of what he’s doing.  Look.  I’m not suggesting that Republicans, in fact, should keep on this issue – at all.  I think you’re right.  First of all, by November, folks would’ve forgotten about this, number one.  Number two –

MR. MADISON:  Oh, no, they won’t.

DR. METZLER:  Well – well –

MR. MADISON:  Oh, please!

DR. METZLER:  — here’s – here — here’s –


DR. METZLER:  — what I mean.

MR. MADISON:  — you guys won’t let us –

MR. BELCHER:  [Laughs.]

MR. MADISON:  — forget!

DR. METZLER:  [Chuckles.]

MR. BELCHER:  Hell, man!  You s- — I’m sorry.  It’s Sunday.  You –

DR. METZLER:  [Laughs.]

MS. FINNEY:  [Chuckles.]

MR. MADISON:  — spent – you spent –

MR. MARTIN:  They say “hell” in the pulpit!

MR. MADISON:  — you spent –

DR. METZLER:  [Laughs.]

MR. MARTIN:  And there is a Hell!  I mean –


MR. MARTIN:  — so we hear “hell” from the pulpit.

MR. MADISON:  — thank you, Reverend.

MR. MARTIN:  You’re welcome!  [Chuckles.]

MR. MADISON:  You spent – you spent over $129 million trying to convince people this was unconstitutional, and you think that they’re going to say, “Oh, well, we” – that – like Roland said, “Oh, we’re knocked out.”  “We’re through.”

MR. BELCHER:  And they’re still running ads, by the way.


MR. MADISON:  They’re going to – and they’re –

MS. FINNEY:  Of course they are.

MR. MADISON:  — going to keep running –

DR. METZLER:  No, but – but it’s –

MR. MADISON:  — ads!

DR. METZLER:  — not – it’s not smart political strategy to do that.

MR. MADISON:  Agreed!

MR. BELCHER:  Agreed!

DR. METZLER:  Okay?  [Chuckles.]


DR. METZLER:  That’s all I’m sayin’!

MS. FINNEY:  Agreed.


MR. MARTIN:  We all agree on one thing!


MR. MARTIN:  I’m about to be a dictator.  I gotta go to break!