Governor Rendell on Health Care Lawsuits

Governor Rendell on Health Care Lawsuits

By On the Record - April 7, 2010

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: And if you think things are a bit uncomfortable at the top of the state government in Missouri tonight, check out Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett joined other states' attorneys general and jumped into the Florida lawsuit trying to declare this health care bill unconstitutional. Well, that decision is not sitting well with the governor of Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell joins us live. Good evening, sir. Now, you have sort of another interesting aspect. Your attorney general has jumped in this lawsuit in Florida, and you say no, you don't want it. So tell me what's going to happen.

GOV. ED RENDELL, D, PENNSYLVANIA: Well, first of all, Tom Corbett has the legal right to do so. I don't contest that. That's the purview of the attorney general. He has the legal right to file suit, but it's a waste of time. As you know, Greta, Ronald Reagan's solicitor general has said that this lawsuit is preposterous, it's absurd. The lieutenant governor of Missouri doesn't understand that Congress can regulate even intrastate commerce if it's part of an overall regulatory scheme and the regulation of intrastate commerce is necessary to make that scheme work. Mitt Romney did it in Massachusetts. The courts upheld the mandate there. This is a lawsuit that has no foundation. It's a total waste of the taxpayers' money.

I wrote Tom Corbett and said, Look, you're too good a lawyer for this. You're doing this in part because it's the politically feasible thing to do. And by the way, I think it's backfiring on Republicans all over the country.

You noticed even the Republicans in Congress who were yelling about repealing, now they're saying, Well, we want to amend or we want to change it because why would you, as an attorney general, want to take away from 400,000 Pennsylvania seniors the right to get a $250 check to fill the doughnut hole in Medicare Part D?

Why would you want to take away the right of 140,000 very ill Pennsylvanians who can't get care to be put immediately into a high risk pool? Why would you want to take away the right of 150,000 Pennsylvania small businesses, 25 employees or less, who can get a 35 percent tax credit this year for offering health care under this bill? Why would you want to void that bill? If there's something wrong with it, amend it, change it, but don't take those benefits away from Pennsylvanians.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let me just respond sort of briefly. I think that the -- I think most people want health care reform. You know, I think that the people who don't like this particular bill just want it to be done a different way and perhaps do different -- make different provisions in it.

RENDELL: Hey, Greta...

VAN SUSTEREN: So it's not like people don't want to -- that -- the...

RENDELL: And that's why we have elections.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... second thing is -- well...

RENDELL: That's why we have elections, and they're going to have a chance in November...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, except that if -- if you want to look at it that way...

RENDELL: -to express that...

VAN SUSTEREN: I think people did try to express it, and I think a lot of people were dissatisfied that their representatives were voting perhaps according to their conscience but not necessarily the way that the people wanted them to vote. Let me ask you a question about...

RENDELL: Well, let me stop you on that.


RENDELL: I want to ask you a question, if I can.


RENDELL: I know you don't usually answer questions, but...


RENDELL: The Republicans voted -- the Republicans voted unanimous to back President Bush when he decided that we should add troops in Iraq, a surge. At that point, when they voted to approve it, it was unpopular with two thirds of the American people. Two thirds of the American people said they didn't want additional troops sent into Iraq. But the Republicans and some Democrats voted their conscience, and it worked out pretty well, didn't it? We are not elected to just...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it's sort of interesting -- it's sort of -- it's...

RENDELL: ... take public opinion polls...

VAN SUSTEREN: It's sort of interesting that you say that -- it's sort of interesting you say that one of the people who was so opposed to that -- and I don't want to sort of relitigate Iraq war -- was Senate majority leader Harry Reid, who so vehemently was opposed to that and to the surge, and it turned out he was wrong. But you know...

RENDELL: But the point is -- the point is, we are not elected to just put our finger to the wind, take a public opinion poll and do what exactly the prevailing mood is at the time. We're elected to use our own judgment to try to figure out what's best in the long run for people we represent.

VAN SUSTEREN: Except sometimes you can take it a little bit extreme and people think that you're arrogant and not listening. And I think the best example probably is what happened in Massachusetts because I don't think that the people -- I don't think the people in Massachusetts necessarily felt (INAUDIBLE) But anyway, can I just ask you a couple questions about this health care?


VAN SUSTEREN: One is the commerce -- one is the commerce clause of Massachusetts that you raised about Mitt Romney. It's my understanding that the commerce clause wouldn't have been an issue in Massachusetts because that wasn't crossing state borders. That was simply within the state.

RENDELL: No, but...

VAN SUSTEREN: So the commerce clause...

RENDELL: But again...

VAN SUSTEREN: ... that would be irrelevant, right?

RENDELL: Except -- except, again, what I said about intrastate commerce has been held by the Supreme Court of the United States. And again, Ronald Reagan's solicitor general said these attorney general suits are absurd and a total waste of time.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, and let me ask you about the waste of time because, you know, the suits are already there. And this is not a suit that's going to involve any witnesses whatsoever. This is going to be fully decided on the briefs. Somebody's going to write a brief and someone's going to write a brief on the other side. A judge is going to make a decision. Someone's going to win, someone's going to lose. It's going to go up to the court of appeals and ultimately up to the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court will make a decision certainly on the issue of whether it's constitutional or not as it relates to the commerce clause.

Does it hurt you in -- not you personally, but does it hurt the state of Pennsylvania to be included in that process?

RENDELL: Sure because if I were the attorney general -- and Tom Corbett, our attorney general, is a good lawyer. If I'm attorney general, I'm going to want at least two or three of my staff members monitoring everything there is filed in that suit to make sure that I agree with it and to make sure that it's the best strategy to advance our cause. I'm not just going to put my name on something and then ignore it. So he's taking attorneys' time that could be used on other things that are far more important to the taxpayers and the citizens of Pennsylvania.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well, maybe you think it's more labor- intensive than I do, sir. Sir, I do hope you'll come back because I think this is a fascinating issue and I sort of like sparring with you, as well (INAUDIBLE) governor. Thank you, sir.

RENDELL: Absolutely. And you should have Ronald Reagan's former solicitor general on and he'll tell you what he thinks of the suit.

VAN SUSTEREN: I -- well, if you can book him for me, you know, you're welcome.


VAN SUSTEREN: Book him for me!

RENDELL: Absolutely.

VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, Governor.

RENDELL: Thanks, Greta.


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