White House has no contingency plans if health law is tossed

The White House has no contingency plans in place in the event the Supreme Court rules the healthcare law is unconstitutional.

White House officials said Wednesday they remain “confident” that the healthcare reform law is constitutional and is implementing all the provisions of the law.

If the law is thrown out, there's “no contingency plan in place,” principal deputy press secretary Josh Earnest said at Wednesday’s press briefing with reporters. “We're focused on maximizing the benefits of this law.”

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President Obama was in South Korea for the first two days of the High Court’s arguments. Earnest said Obama has followed the case through news reports but he’s unsure if Obama has listened to the audio from the Supreme Court.

Earnest said the healthcare law “was originally a Republican idea” and was backed by “the former governor of Massachusetts.”

Earnest also said the law stemmed from a “bipartisan plan and it's one that we believe is constitutional.”

During the arguments on Tuesday, a majority of the justices appeared to be skeptical that the health law’s insurance mandate met constitutional muster. But on Wednesday, the court seemed more divided on the question of whether the entire law would need to be thrown out if the court ruled the mandate was unconstitutional.

Legal experts have warned that while oral arguments can be a good indication of where the court is headed, it is far from certain how the justices will rule.

In his comments, Earnest cautioned that someone who reads into the tough questioning by the Supreme Court justices and the tenor of the case “is not a very good student of the Supreme Court.”

“I would caution against anyone to try and make predictions,” Earnest said. “That's a risky path to go down if you're placing bets.”

Asked about James Carville's comments that a ruling against the mandate would be a good thing for Democrats, Earnest said “Mr. Carville has the freedom to make those kinds of political assessments” but added that he wasn't in a position to do the same from the White House podium.

Despite the solicitor general’s shaky performance before the court, Earnest called Donald Verrilli Jr., the government’s lawyer in the case, a “very skilled advocate” and “one of the brightest legal minds in Washington, D.C.”

Verrilli “delivered a solid performance before the Supreme Court. That's a fact. We feel good about his performance,” he said.


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