Washington (CNSNews.com) – Mitch Daniels, Indiana’s Republican governor, said he does not know whether the new health care bill signed into law by President Barack Obama is constitutional.
Many Republican members of Congress have said the legislation is unconstitutional and 20 state attorneys general have joined a lawsuit led by Florida challenging the law's constitutionality.
On Capitol Hill on Tuesday, CNSNews.com asked Daniels whether he thinks the new new health care law is constitutional.
“I don’t know,” Daniels said. “The constitutionality of this law, or not, is not a frivolous question, I’m fully convinced of that. If I thought it was just posturing or so forth I wouldn’t have advised our AG (attorney general), who’s independently elected--but we did confer--I wouldn’t have advised him to do it. We’re not into posing and posturing much where we are.”
“But no, these questions, both of the (U.S. Constitution’s) Commerce Clause stretching to include compelling individuals, free citizens, to purchase something, and the trampling of State prerogatives are legitimate questions, and I think the overwhelming weight of legal opinion that has been expressed on it says, ‘Yeah, maybe.’
Daniels was at the Capitol to attend a Congressional Health Care Caucus meeting.
Given speculation that he might run for the White House in 2012, CNSNews.com also asked the governor if he would sign legislation to repeal the health care law if he became president.
Daniels said, “Yeah, as long as it come accompanied by a very meaningful and genuine reform of the system, preferably somewhat along consumerist lines.”
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who was in the audience at the health care caucus, asked Daniels: “If you happen to find yourself in that position (as president) and you didn’t see reform as part of a package, but just repeal, do you believe this country is better off doing nothing--or better off trying to adapt to this dead end that we’ve hit with the throttle wide open?”
The governor said, “My every instinct says you always want to be for something. That’s certainly been our approach to every issue we’ve encountered at home. We insist on being known for what we’re for, not what we’re against.”
He noted that Republicans in Congress had introduced an alternative plan that was ignored by the majority Democrats, who hold large majorities in the House and Senate, and control the White House. Daniels said that Republicans had lacked the numbers needed to advance their plan.
He later added: “I do believe that the bill that has passed will make health care worse, will make the largest problem the nation’s facing, which is a crushing debt burden that literally threatens the vitality of this republic, much worse, and therefore we’d be better off without it. But it’d never be acceptable to say that without at least having your best go, your own best assessment, of a way to improve on a status quo ante that wasn’t acceptable either.”
Indiana is among the 20 states that are challenging the constitutionality of the new health care legislation.
When asked about the issue, Daniels said, “I don’t know what the prospects for the suits are. As has often been observed, courts read the election returns too and they might be reluctant to take a step so bold, but these are not idle challenges.”
When asked about his presidential prospects, Daniels said: “I’m a governor and that’s all I’m expecting and intending to be.”