Reporting Tim Kephart
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WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – Within minutes of the Supreme Court’s decision, Florida Democrats and Republicans began firing off statements either labeling the Affordable Care Act as either a burdensome new tax or lauding it is as monumental ruling in American history.
For the most part, Republicans came down hard on the decision and moved the talking point away from health care itself and instead tried to recast the decision as a large new tax all Americans would have to pay.
“The tax question was repeatedly refuted by members of Congress who helped pass this health care takeover,” Governor Rick Scott wrote. “The Justices have declared that the provision of ObamaCare is a judicially mandated tax. A new tax pure and simple. This is just another burden the federal government has put on American families and small businesses.”
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi gave a nuanced early answer that sought to salvage some semblance of a victory after being turned away for the most part by the Supreme Court.
“The Court did say, however, that they (Congress) cannot do this under the Commerce Clause; that you cannot force a person to purchase a product just by being alive,” Bondi told the News Service of Florida. “However, they found that this is a tax. And that’s contrary to everything our president’s been saying. So this is a tax on the American people and that’s how it was upheld.”
However, according to the solicitor general’s argument before the Court in March, if the law wasn’t valid under the Commerce Clause, which a 7-2 majority of the court said, then the law was constitutional under the taxing power of Congress.
Florida Commissioner Adam Putnam was the first local politician to react with a statement and took exception with the health care law regarding health issues.
“Unconstitutional or not, the so-called ‘Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’ is the wrong policy for reforming health care and the wrong direction for America,” said Commissioner Putnam. “Individual liberties and the doctor-patient relationship took a step back today.”
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“What’s important to remember is that what the Court rules on is whether something is constitutional or not, not whether it’s a good idea,” Florida Senator Marco Rubio said. “And while the Court has said that the law is constitutional, it remains a bad idea for our economy, and I hope that in the fall we will have a majority here that will not just repeal this law, but replace it with real solutions that will insure ore people and cost a lot less money.”
Florida Congressman Connie Mack, IV, echoed Bondi’s statement in his statement that targeted his opponent in November, Senator Bill Nelson, a democrat.
“ObamaCare not only kills jobs, burdens families and runs up our already-massive debt, it oversteps its bounds by stripping Americans of their freedoms and mandating compliance with a government edict by calling the law a tax,” Mack wrote.
On the other side of the political aisle, Democratic Congresswoman Frederica Wilson of Miami lauded the Supreme Court’s decision.
“This decision is a huge victory for the people of District 17 and all across the country. Because of this ruling, everyone in South Florida will benefit from critical patient protections, $1 trillion in savings over the next two decades, better coverage for families – including preventive care to keep people healthy – and greater accountability for the insurance industry,” Wilson wrote in a statement.
Senator Bill Nelson touted the reforms while trying to pivot back towards the economy.
“Our system was broken and we had to do something. Insurance companies were refusing to cover people or dropping those who got sick,” Senator Nelson wrote. “So, we passed legislation to prevent insurers from running roughshod over people. And today, the Supreme Court upheld most of these reforms. Now, I think it’s time we finish the job of fixing our economy and creating more jobs.”
Republican Congressman David Rivera reacted strongly against the law.
“It is in the best interest of our nation’s economy to repeal the job-killing health care law and replace it with common sense reforms that address what is wrong with the health insurance system in America,” Rivera wrote. “We must pass legislation that lower costs and protect American jobs, not threaten them. We must move toward a system that welcomes patient choice and flexibility, instead of more government involvement, by ensuring Americans the ability to make medical decisions without bureaucratic interference.”
US Representative Alan West called the decision a “sad day for America.”
“This is a sad day for Americans, as they will be taxed to pay for benefits they may not need or want as part of the insurance they are forced to buy. With this decision, Congress has been granted infinite taxation power, and there are no longer any limits on what the federal government can tax its citizens to do,” West said in a statement released Thursday afternoon.
“Benjamin Franklin did indeed state, ‘In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.’ However, Dr. Franklin never envisioned the federal government would use its power of taxation to punish people for not purchasing health care. Today, individual sovereignty in America has been defeated.”
Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, also the chairpersonof the Democratic National Committee, saluted the Court’s decision.
“As a breast cancer survivor and one of 129 million Americans with a pre-existing condition, I am overjoyed that the Supreme Court upheld the right of every American to have access to quality, affordable health care insurance,” Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz said in a statement. “It is wonderful news that the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of this landmark law, and I reaffirm my commitment to working to find innovative solutions that keep us on track toward full implementation of the Affordable Care Act so we can ensure affordable, accessible, quality health care for all Americans.”