Rahm Emanuel glad Obama ‘didn’t listen’ to him on health care
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org June 28, 2012 11:26AM
After making an announcement about job growth and economic development in Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke about the Supreme Court decision that Obamacare was constitutionally sound. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times
Updated: July 30, 2012 6:22AM
“Thank God for the rest of the country he didn’t listen to me.”
That was Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s blunt and self-effacing assessment of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s health care mandate.
As White House chief of staff, Emanuel literally begged the president not to pursue health care for fear of the political price that Obama would pay and the impact it would have on his ability to get other things done.
On the other side was First Lady Michelle Obama, who pushed her husband to stand on his principles.
“I told him up front. If you go back 60 years what every president tried to do, including my own battle scars from President Clinton and the amount of time and political cost….If you’re doing this, you can’t do this, this and this. And you’ve got to weigh that and can you still achieve something on health care vs. also still trying to get other things done,” the mayor said.
“I told him many times [about] the political cost of doing this and, thank God for the rest of the country he didn’t listen to me.”
Thanks to what he called Obama’s “courage” in “not listening to the politics,” Emanuel said the 24-year-old who’s back home living with his parents either looking for a job or in a job without health care won’t have to worry about health insurance.
The same goes for patients with pre-existing conditions, seniors who need help with the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs and those with life-threatening illnesses who have run through their insurance. The mayor also said insurance companies will also be forced to justify their premium increases from a health care basis, not just from a business decision.
“That’s what political leadership is about,” the mayor said.
“Others will evaluate the politics. I would like to take one minute to step back and acknowledge the type of courage it took…For 60-to-70 years, president after president of both parties tried to achieve what President Obama has achieved. And I don’t think in the debate about the politics [people realize]… the substantive difference this will make in people’s lives.”
Emanuel said he has already emailed his former boss to congratulate Obama on the courage he showed to, as the mayor put it, “bend the needle of history.”
The mayor refused to say whether the ruling would help or hurt the president’s chance of winning re-election. Emanuel didn’t want to “lose sight of the substance” by veering off into politics.
Then he did just that — by attacking the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
“If Mitt Romney had been in that office, the auto industry, the auto worker and the auto communities would have been bankrupt,” he said.
“I don’t know which Mitt Romney would have shown up [on health care] — the Massachusetts governor or the new one. But if Mitt Romney would have been in the Oval Office, a different set of decisions would have been made and they have bottom line consequences in peoples’ lives.”
Emanuel also could not resist weighing in on the fact that, it was Chief Justice John Roberts who tipped scales in favor of Obamacare.
“It’s rich with irony,” the mayor said.