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Rubio leads GOP response to health care ruling

• June 28, 2012 11:54 am

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ANCHOR: Florida senator Marco Rubio joins us from the hill this morning with the reaction to today's decision from the Supreme Court. Senator, good to have you. Welcome.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO: Well thanks for having me.

ANCHOR: Where do Republicans regroup now? What’s the next step?

RUBIO: First of all, let's be clear. I think it's pretty telling that for the Obama administration a "victory" is a middle class tax increase. That’s what this is. Not me saying it, that’s what the Supreme Court has just said today. It’s important to realize what the Supreme Court decides is not whether something's a good idea or not. What they decide is whether it's constitutional. And the reason why they say this is constitutional is because this is a tax increase. For folks watching back home, here's what this means. This now means, if you don't buy health insurance, you are in unlawful compliance with the law, and the IRS can come after you and will come after you. We have now created an IRS problem for millions of Americans. Anyone who thinks that's good for economic growth is out of their minds. And I think that's what —

ANCHOR: I understand you might think it's not good for economic growth. I’m not hearing you say that it's unconstitutional.

RUBIO: First of all, I continue to believe that it is. I’m not on the Supreme Court. Here’s the bottom line now. It is constitutional according to the Supreme Court because it's a tax increase. We have to live with the consequences of this now. By the way, there are a lot of things that are constitutional that happen to be bad ideas. This just joins the list because now millions of Americans will have an IRS problem beginning in 2014. We just came out with numbers today, less than 2% growth, an anemic economic growth. You watch today the numbers on the market. You watch the economic reaction to that. It will be negative because people do not think this is good news, creating an IRS problem for millions of Americans is not good news.

ANCHOR: Forgive me, senator. Isn’t the penalty around $95 ultimately? Isn’t that the starting penalty? That would seem quite small to a lot of people.

RUBIO: No, no, first of all as the years go on, the number begins to increase. But the bigger point is that now Americans who are out of compliance, they have to prove to the IRS they have health insurance. If you don't have it, they're going to chase you. They’re going to take away your refund. They’re going to increase your tax next year. How is that good news for anyone? And not to mention, by the way, this is a broken promise. Barack Obama said he would not be raising taxes on the middle class. This is exactly what this is. When he told George Stephanopoulos on ABC a few years ago that this wasn't a tax increase, he obviously did not know what he was talking about because his lawyers before the Supreme Court argued this was a tax increase, and today the Supreme Court affirmed that.

ANCHOR: Republicans have spent two years trying to mount this challenge. A loss in court today, how long does the repeal effort go if the votes don't go your way in the early days? This vote supposedly set for mid-July. Will this effort continue into infinity, or is there a point where you say it's the law of the land, let's move on.

RUBIO: I think you always try to get rid of bad ideas no matter how long it's been on the books. That’s what I intend to do as long as I serve in the United States Senate. Do everything I can to ensure that this middle class tax increase doesn't go into effect and doesn’t hurt economic growth in America. But here’s what I expect is going to happen, I hope. I hope there are Democrats in the U.S. senate that will say, while they agree with all of us that we do have a health insurance problem in America, they never intended to create an IRS problem for millions of Americans, which is now what millions of Americans are going to have beginning very soon. This was never what anyone wanted, I hope. And I hope we'll have a chance to redo this thing in the right way, not this way.

ANCHOR: Finally, some political watchers are saying, this is going to alter the way the Romney campaign is going to spend its political fuel. It was largely about jobs, health care is going to take up a big part of the oxygen in the room. Is that true?

RUBIO: I think this is going to become a big issue again. That always has been, but I think the focus is going to be back on it. As Americans in practical terms now realize the IRS — they're now going to have to prove to the IRS that they have health insurance or they're going to get hit with a penalty, and they're going to have an IRS problem. That issue, as it hurts our economy, as it hurts unemployment figures, as it hurts economic growth, you're going to hear more and more about this on the campaign trail. No doubt, this now becomes one of the main things this election is all about.

ANCHOR: Senator, could this be viewed by Republicans as a silver lining? Does this reinvigorate support for the Republicans seeing that there are several polls out indicating a plurality of Americans did not agree with the individual mandate?

RUBIO: I try not to analyze it that way. I love my country more than I love my political party. I think this is bad for America and bad for our economy. After all this noise about how this affects the campaign, there are millions of people out there that are already struggling. This is one more thing we've now put on their back. I think this is terrible. I just do. I don't think this is the right way to deal with this issue. I wish reasonable minds would prevail.

ANCHOR: To be clear, the fact that 30 million or 40 million more Americans might come into health care is a bad thing in your view because of the way that it's paid for.

RUBIO: I think that we all want Americans to have more choices in terms of health insurance. I’ve never denied, I don't think anyone does, that we have a health insurance problem in America. But I don't think you solve that problem by growing the debt, by taking choices away from people, by trying to force states to deficit spend in order to put people on their Medicare rolls, and by turning the IRS into an enforcement mechanism for health insurance. That’s just not the right approach, and I think we'll see the impacts of that very soon unfortunately.

ANCHOR: Before we let you go Senator, it is going to put the onus on Republicans to offer alternatives on the number of uninsured, cost escalation, preexisting conditions. Will the party introduce new ideas, or do you see a vote being a vote on the same ideas Republicans have already put on the table?

RUBIO: Well, first of all, I campaigned on new ideas with regards to health insurance, and I’ll continue to talk about those. I think Americans should be able to buy health insurance the way their employers do, not having to pay taxes on that money. I think you should be able to buy insurance from any company in America that will sell it to you. I think small businesses should be able to partner up with other small businesses, and by the way, I think we should figure out ways to incentivize tort reform at the state level. These are all important measures. And I by the way believe that there's a role for the government to play in high-risk pools, to help insure people who are chronically ill and have a difficult time to find private insurance because of that. These are all things that I hope we can talk about in a reasonable way, but we don't have to sick the IRS on people in order to do that. That’s the fundamental problem we face today.

ANCHOR: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us.

RUBIO: Thanks for having me.

ANCHOR: Senator Marco Rubio joining us from Florida.