The Washington Post

Biden says Supreme Court will uphold health-care law

Days after the Supreme Court wrapped up oral arguments on the constitutionality of the national health-care overhaul, Vice President Biden predicted Sunday that the high court will not throw out the Obama administration’s signature agenda item.

“I’m not going to speculate about something I don’t believe will happen,” Biden said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” when asked by host Bob Schieffer about the possibility that the court will throw out the entire health-care law. “I don’t believe it will happen. And so I think we should focus on what is the law doing for people now, and what would happen if, in fact, the Republicans were able to repeal it?”

The interview, which came as “Face the Nation” kicks off its new, hour-long format, marked Biden’s third appearance on the show as vice president and the 55th of his career, according to Schieffer. Biden weighed in on a wide range of topics.

On the hot-microphone incident — during which President Obama told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he would have more “flexibility” in dealing with missile defense after the November election – Biden said that the president was “stating the obvious. That it’s going to be difficult. . . . We’re not going to have the flexibility to sit down and talk with people in this Congress that are going to be able to listen and be able to work with us, probably between now and Election Day.”

Biden took aim at former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, accusing him of being “a little out of touch” for opposing the auto industry bailout and opposing the national health-care law.

“Everywhere I go in the country, there’s millions of people out there that are benefiting now,” Biden said of the health-care law. “There are those people with chronic diseases like cancer that don’t have to worry about getting a phone call saying, ‘You’re cut off. Your insurance has run out.’ . . . And what is the Romney answer? There’s nothing. All they argue is, ‘Cut. Get rid of that. Get rid of that.’ ”

Reprising a theme that Obama has hit hard both in his State of the Union address and on the campaign trail in recent weeks, Biden framed the upcoming election as one that will hinge on the middle class.

“This is about the middle class,” he said. “And what affects middle class people are jobs, being able to own a home, being able to live in a safe neighborhood, being able to send their kid to college. It’s about their dignity. This is about the middle class. And none of what [Romney is] offering does anything. It’s just returning to the old policies.”

As the GOP field has hammered Obama on rising gas prices, Biden on Sunday defended the administration’s efforts and argued that “we’re pumping 650,000 barrels of oil a day more than we did when we took office.”

“These guys, what are they offering?” he said of the Republican presidential hopefuls. “$2.50 gas there, I think at least one of them is offering that. . . . And what’s their policy? Continue a $4 billion tax cut for the oil companies? Drill more? Where are they going to drill more now that can produce something now? And they’re going out there, and they’re emasculating all the efforts to deal with renewable energy. And so they have no policy.”

On the contraception debate that roiled the country’s politics earlier this year — and over which there had reportedly been conflict within the White House — Biden said Sunday that Obama “ended up exactly where he intended and where he began, which was that one, every woman in America should be able to have insurance coverage for birth control if she so chooses, and that the Catholic Church and other churches should not have to pay for it or provide it.”

“For the record, is that what you advised the president?” Schieffer asked Biden.

“Yes. But that’s also where the president was on the front end,” Biden said.

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