Interview with DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Interview with DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz

By The Situation Room - March 27, 2012

BLITZER: Let's dig a little bit deeper right now on this sensitive issue. Joining us is the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida. Congresswoman, thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: You know, the Tea Party movement, they had a huge demonstration up on Capitol Hill today, a lot of opponents. Where were the Democrats and the supporters of healthcare reform? Why aren't they out there trying to press the case that this is good for the country?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, the Supreme Court is a group of nine justices. They are going to consider both the oral argument and the briefs that are submitted by the governments and the opponents of the healthcare reform law and where the Democrats have been and where we always have been since President Obama took office, focusing on job creation, focusing on getting our economy turned around, and focusing on making sure we can fully implement its healthcare reform.

BLITZER: You've heard the criticism, congresswoman. The Democrats are running away from their grand achievement healthcare reform on the second anniversary. We didn't see a lot of the president boasting about it, the vice president boasting about it, congressional leaders talking about it, why?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, that's actually simply not the case. Vice President Biden was in Florida on the anniversary of the healthcare law, with me on Friday, talked about the importance of making sure it's fully implemented, spoke to seniors about the importance of the prescription drug doughnut hole which will be fully closed by the Affordable Care Act over the next seven years, making sure we don't go backward and leave them twisting in the wind when it comes to try and to find a way to afford their prescription drugs.

Keeping young adults on their parents' insurance until they're 26, and the women like me who live with pre-existing conditions, making sure that we can't go back to the days like Republicans want to, that an insurance company can drop us or deny us coverage for those --

BLITZER: I don't know if you were watching Jeffrey Toobin, our senior legal analyst, that he said he was in there for two hours. He's written a major book on the Supreme Court.


BLITZER: He tweeted this was a train wreck for President Obama. The solicitor general, the representative, the lawyer arguing on behalf of the Obama administration didn't seem ready for prime time, if you will.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well I certainly don't think that based on one day of oral arguments that we can make a judgment on the ultimate outcome and the decision the justices will make. You have conservative justices appointed by Republican presidents that have upheld the law as being constitutional. At the end of the day, we need to make sure, number one, Congress certainly can regulate health care.

Number two, when you have tens of millions of people who make a decision not to carry insurance and then they get sick and they have to go to the emergency room and ultimately can't afford to pay, that decision is an economic decision that impacts millions of other people and drives everyone's health care costs up and that is why it is a commerce clause issue and makes it constitutional.

BLITZER: James Carville, our CNN contributor and pretty good political strategist --


BLITZER: -- I should say he was in THE SITUATION ROOM in the last hour. He made the case that you, the Democrats are better off if the Supreme Court rules against health care reform overturns the law. Play the clip.


JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: This is not spin. I think that this will be the best thing to ever happen to the Democratic Party because I think health care costs are going to escalate unbelievably. It's 2012, 20 out of 100 people over 65 by 2020, it's going to be 26 and you know what the Democrats are going to say and it's completely justified. We tried. We did something. Go see a 5-4 Supreme Court majority.

The public has these guys figured out. Our polls show half think the whole thing is political. They overturned an election. And just as a professional Democrat, did nothing better for me than overturn this thing 5-4 and then the Republican Party will own the health care system for the foreseeable future. And I really believe that. That is not spin.


BLITZER: You agree with him that it would be great for the Democrat going into November if the justices overturned health care reform?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: What would be great for Americans is if the justices uphold the Affordable Care Act so that we can make sure that the Republicans aren't allowed to drag us backward to the days where insurance companies are making the decisions on what's best in terms of your health care. Doctors and patients should be making those decisions. We should make sure seniors like the ones I represent in South Florida don't have to leave some of their prescriptions behind at the counter because they can't afford to take them all home because of that doughnut hole. That's what would be best for America.

BLITZER: What if the justices do decide 5-4, 6-3 to overturn it? What are the contingency plans? What do you do then?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Obviously if there are revisions that need to be made those will be made, but we believe that this is -- this law is constitutional and that the Supreme Court will ultimately uphold it.

BLITZER: The whole notion though of this decision politically, forget about the substance because you make a good case why it should be you know continued and why it shouldn't be overturned, but on the political substance, would you win? Would this generate excitement, energize the base if the law were overturned as James Carville suggests?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: We've got a pretty excited base already, Wolf, and --

BLITZER: Not as excited as they were in 2008.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well they're pretty darn close to as excited as 2008 and where the lack of excitement obviously is, is on the Republican side because you can see with almost every single one of their primaries they've had a huge drop in turnout. They have a lackluster field that they're flailing around trying to find who it is that should be their nominee. Mitt Romney has really not been able to close the deal. So if there's any concern over lack of enthusiasm it should be on the Republican side. We're fired up and ready to go.

BLITZER: How worried are you about that open mic incident yesterday in South Korea when the president was overheard saying to the Russian president, you know what? After the election we can do something else. Don't worry. (INAUDIBLE) get through this election, I then don't have to be reelected anymore and I'll be able to do things then paraphrasing, that I can't do now.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: President Obama has done a remarkable job in terms of foreign policy, being our commander in chief, bringing Osama bin Laden to justice, making sure that we re-established the United States diplomatic influence around the world and also speaking softly and carrying a big stick. I think his reputation internationally, globally has been significant and the American people are proud of their president and the position that he's brought the United States to.

BLITZER: You were very funny at the grid iron Saturday night.


BLITZER: Are you getting a lot of good publicity for that?

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: It was fun. I enjoyed it.

BLITZER: I hope they let cameras in there one of these days --

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: That would be neat.

BLITZER: It's like the Supreme Court. They don't let cameras --

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: That's right --

BLITZER: -- inside the grid iron dinner. They don't let them in the Supreme Court.

WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: The skits were pretty good too.

BLITZER: Thanks very much. 

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