John King talked to Virginia's wingnut birther Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli about today's ruling by Judge Henry Hudson that the individual mandate in the health care law is unconstitutional. Cuccinelli dismissed concerns that this might create
December 13, 2010

John King talked to Virginia's wingnut birther Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli about today's ruling by Judge Henry Hudson that the individual mandate in the health care law is unconstitutional. Cuccinelli dismissed concerns that this might create uncertainty for employers in Virginia and said he hoped that would make it harder for the Supreme Court to turn down hearing the case.

Cuccinelli also defended immediately raising campaign funds from the ruling, painting himself as the victim who's going to have powerful interests coming after him, rather than the fact that he's been using the issue for political gain from day one.

Par for the course, ignored in this conversation... Judge Hudson's conflict of interests. Also ignored, whether or not conservatives getting their wish if the Supreme Court does take the case and rules against it, that potentially opening the door back up to a public option.

CNN Transcript:

KING: Dan Lothian at the White House -- Dan pointing out a legal ruling that reignites the political debate. Now let's get the perspective of the man who challenged the law and won, at least this first round. Republican Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli of Virginia joins us from Richmond tonight. Sir, I'm holding the decision here from Judge Hudson. You win the case on this round. You just heard Dan Lothian note there are two other cases upholding the law. One of them in Virginia --


KING: What do you think makes this decision better than the other two?

CUCCINELLI: Well, whenever you have a state as a party with the federal government, you're in sort of a different category. And the next one of these is coming up Thursday in Florida when they have their merits hearing down in Florida. Probably get a ruling in January or February time frame in that case. There are 25 total cases running across the country.

Certainly you're going to see a series of rulings, but even in the two we've seen so far that went the federal government's way on the individual mandate; the federal government was ruled against in both cases on their tax argument. And there are two arguments in this case. The individual mandate, whether or not it's constitutional, and whether or not the penalty, if you disobey the government instruction that you must buy their government-approved insurance is a tax.

And the federal government lost again on the tax argument in addition to the individual mandate today. This is obviously a very important ruling. But as you've pointed out here on this show, this one is probably going to the Supreme Court. We hope it gets there soon because it certainly introduces an amazing amount of uncertainty for our whole economy.

KING: Let's get to that point because I know your position. Your position is this law is unconstitutional. The administration clearly disagrees.


KING: If you're an American citizen watching, whether you live in Virginia or elsewhere of you're an American employer watching, you're in a bit of a limbo. The law is still in place obviously, but you're thinking, should I change my conduct? Should I affect my hiring? What I get a new health care policy for my employees or what should I do if I'm an individual and I don't buy insurance? So do you believe there's the political will to at least ask the Supreme Court for an expedited review of this case or will this goes on in the courts for another two or three years before it gets all the way to the top?

CUCCINELLI: I actually think it's harder not to make the request than to make the request because there's so much uncertainly out there. And we all know there's a lot of business money parked on the sidelines, waiting to see what the rules of the road are going to be, not just in health care, but you introduces the tax compromise that's being discussed in Washington.

All these things have an impact on whether or not businesses are willing to start investing that cash that they're holding and to help start creating jobs. And I think that this administration could benefit by moving this case faster and reducing the uncertainty in the economy more quickly. And whatever the outcome, whether Virginia wins or whether the federal government wins, knowing the outcome is a benefit by itself to all Americans. Obviously I hope that we protect the Constitution and Virginia prevails, but I don't get to decide that. The Supreme Court is ultimately going to have to do that.

KING: Mr. Attorney general, I know your position, the conservative, the federal government has no right to do this. That's your position. Answer, though, if you go on Twitter, on Facebook, e- mails to us today, answer the critic of your position who says well then what happens? If you don't have this mandate in play, what happens if some 30, 35-year-old person decides you know what, I'm young.

I'm fine. I'm safe. They don't buy insurance. They don't get it from their employer and then they have a horrific accident, say a car accident. And they end up in the emergency room. Who pays then?

CUCCINELLI: Yes, John, that's a great question. And of course I'm an attorney general and my obligation first is to defend the Constitution. But the reality is, as you said, there are plenty of people who see benefits in this bill and in a 2,700 page bill surely there's something in it for everybody. I hope, "A" that we win the case and "B" that the parties can get back to the table and start to work on the things that there's broad agreement on.

There wasn't broad agreement. There were enough votes to get this through, but I wouldn't call it broad agreement here. We need to start getting consumers in control of health care to drive costs down. More government hasn't worked for 45 years. So we need to go in a different direction so we can offer people other alternatives. I did that as a state senator to increase the availability of health insurance, put in bills to help myself do that before I was an attorney general. There are ways we can do this to help take care of the folks who need greater access to health insurance, but violating the Constitution and eliminating some people's freedom is not the way to do that.

KING: This is a legal fight, but as you know, it's also a high stakes political battle. And within minutes of winning this decision, you could go on the Internet and see an ad that's congratulating you, celebrating your victory in this case in Virginia and saying donate money. Donate (ph) -- make political contributions to Ken Cuccinelli, the attorney general of Virginia. Is that appropriate, sir, for you to raise money off of this especially within hours of the ruling?

CUCCINELLI: Yes, there's no question that the debate and the contest over this occurs not just in the media. It occurs in the political environment, by which I mean on Capitol Hill here in Richmond, but also in the political environment like campaigns. And the fact is I need to survive politically. I'm an elected official in Virginia.

The people of Virginia, 58 percent of them voted for me in the last election. And an awful lot of very upset folks, a lot of them very powerful with plenty of money here are going to be coming after me. They've already said as much, in the next election. And we have to prepare for that as well while we continue to defend the Constitution regardless of what the consequences are.

KING: Mr. Cuccinelli, appreciate your time tonight. We'll keep in touch as the case makes it way through the court --

CUCCINELLI: Thanks for having me.

Can you help us out?

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