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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN
Health Care Ruling Today; Interview With Rep. Emanuel Cleaver; Supreme Court to Hand Down Ruling on Health Care Law; Wildfires Continues to Burn in Colorado
Aired June 28, 2012 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome everybody.
Our STARTING POINT this morning: stakes are high as await one of the most important decisions ever from the Supreme Court. In just two hours, the justices will decide if President Obama's health care law is constitutional. The outcome could have a major impact on all of us.
Got full coverage this morning on the health care decision.
CNN legal analyst Jeff Toobin is outside the courthouse for us this morning.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here. He's going to talk about the medical ramifications.
And then later this morning, we're going to talk to New York Senator Chuck Schumer.
Another historic decision as well to tell you about, will Attorney General Eric Holder be held in contempt of Congress over the Fast and Furious operation? There's word there could be a walkout.
And no relief in sight as tens of thousands of people are running from the enormous wildfires in Colorado. Why today it could get even worse. We'll bring you live to Colorado this morning.
It's Thursday, June 28th. And STARTING POINT begins right now.
RICHARD SOCARIDES, NEWYORKER.COM: I was looking for one of those, too.
O'BRIEN: Write it down. Who's that? That's off of Sanjay's list. "Finger Eleven," Paralyzer. It might be a good choice for today.
We are waiting, of course, this historic decision of the Supreme Court, less than two hours, 10:00 Eastern. The justices will announce the decision on President Obama's health care law.
We've got coverage this morning on all angles.
Our team here in the studio, Richard Socarides is a former senior adviser to President Bill Clinton. He worked for that administration in fact when Clinton was proposing his health care reform plan back in 1993.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta is with us this morning, CNN's chief medical correspondent. He's also a practicing neurosurgeon in his free time at a public hospital. He worked in the White House during the Clinton administration.
Will Cain with us this morning. He's an attorney and a columnist at TheBlaze.com. He's been following the case very closely, going to walk us through really what is at heart of the case, looking at the Constitution.
Politically speaking, the health care law is considered the signature legislation of President Obama's time in office and likely to be a focal point of the presidential election. The most contentious part of the law is the individual mandate.
Let's get right to Jeff Toobin at the Supreme Court with what could happen today.
Walk me through the options for the court.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: OK. First option, very simple: they simply affirm the whole law. They say this law is constitutional. It can go in to effect.
The other options start to get more complicated. They could invalidate the whole law. They could say that the unconstitutional part of it is so interwoven with the rest of the law that it is -- there's no way to tease it out so all 2,700 pages disappear, including the parts gone in to effect -- already like kids staying on the parent's insurance until 26, no preexisting conditions bar for children. That all could go out the window in two hours.
The other option is something in between, which would be invalidating some part of the law, like the individual mandate, the part of the law you just mentioned that says every American has to have insurance, either through their jobs or through these exchanges that the law will set up. That based on the oral argument that I saw I thought was a very likely possibility.
But some sort of invalidation of some parts of the law, that's where things get complicated because we'll then have to sort out what survives and what doesn't.
All right. Let's turn to Will Cain to walk us through.
As Jeff Toobin sets up, the argument is about constitutionality and the heart of the question is this clause, the Commerce Clause.
WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That's right. As we have talked about, all of our viewers that I have an opinion. I have expressed them quite frequently on this program.
CAIN: So, I'm not attempting to hide them, rather, I'm also an attorney who understands this issue, and I want the audience to understand exactly what the Supreme Court is debating today. And if as we talked about, I've been through often the word opinion, I've got Richard Socarides, also an attorney, who worked with Bill Clinton to pull me back on the rein.
That's right. So, does Congress have the power to mandate that you buy the -- can it require to buy you insurance? I think I lost my mike here.
O'BRIEN: OK. So, Will, come over and take my mike.
CAIN: I have it back. Am I good?
O'BRIEN: I don't know if we can hear you. Try again.
CAIN: Can Congress require you to buy health insurance? You have to turn to the Constitution. The Constitution is a list of enumerated powers of the government, which is a fancy way of saying this is the list of things you can do.
It's got stuff in there like create a post office, form a military.
But let's focus on two aspects. One, the general welfare clause is right here. You can't read it. I'm going to put it up over there.
But this is essentially Congress's taxing power. It says that Congress -- that Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes and provide for the common defense and welfare.
This essentially allows Congress to tax us and spend and it has defined broadly by the Supreme Court. Through this, we created a public retirement program, Social Security. We created the health insurance program for the elderly, and Medicare.
But this is not the constitutional justification for the individual mandate. We know that because honestly the president of the United States said that. He said this is not a tax. Rather, we go down two or three lines to what's called the Interstate Commerce Clause.
And again, because this is old English and you can't read it, I put it up on the screen and Interstate Commerce Clause reads like this. That Congress shall have the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the states.
Now, once again, we have a power that's been broadly, broadly defined. Through this, Congress passed things like the 1964 Civil Rights Act. It's passed most of our criminal code, regulating medical marijuana, and organized crime. And it's given us the labor laws.
Now, here's the great leap forward. At least to those who are opposed to the individual mandate. This is for the first time Congress compelling you in to commerce, requiring action, requiring you to buy insurance.
And the justices, guys, asked the government over and over, understanding that this is an enumerated powers Constitution, it's limited, if we allow you to do this, what can you not do? Can we allow you to force people to eat broccoli or buy broccoli or buy burial insurance? Tell us how these powers are limited.
O'BRIEN: So tell us about the broccoli.
SOCARIDES: It is a relative term, right? And it's limited but it's been very expansive up until now. And what we talked about earlier this morning is Republicans successful in suggesting the law is somehow unprecedented. And the main argument is, is it unprecedented or in keeping with constitutional precedent from before?
I mean, I think as I have said that this law will be upheld today and that it is squarely within the bounds of the Constitution permits. That's what the argument is about.
O'BRIEN: In addition to the constitutional argument, right, there's a context and part is political.
So let's bring in Sanjay to talk about the medical side of this and also Paul Keckley. He's a health care economist and executive director for Deloitte Center of Health solutions joining us as well.
Sir, let's begin with you, if we can. Do you believe that the individual mandate, in fact, falls within that Commerce Clause as Will Cain has so clearly walked us through?
PAUL KECKLEY, HEALTH CARE ECONOMIST: I do. Because I think the notion of a market is really intrinsic to that. I think the health insurance market -- health care is something you use but you don't know when or how. So, how does a society manage something as complicated as health care?
So, this is one approach. There are others but this is certainly one I think falls within the scope of the Commerce Clause.
O'BRIEN: So, Sanjay, the question then becomes, what are the implications of all of this?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, with regard to -- you know, how health care is different, that drives this particular question. So when Will says, look, you know, this is like making you buy broccoli, I think health care is different. And I say this in part as a doctor who works in the hospital.
O'BRIEN: That's different from making people --
GUPTA: First of all, on appearances, if people don't buy broccoli, the cost of broccoli goes down. People don't buy health care insurance, the cost of health insurance goes up and the cost of health care goes because cost shifting occurs across the country.
But more to the point, this is $56 billion in uncompensated care every year in the United States. So, if you don't have health care insurance, Soledad, you affect everybody else at the table. That's I think in part what makes this different and why you have to think about health care as a different market than other things.
CAIN: And that's the debate honestly the Supreme Court is having. Is the market different? What's the health care market, how is different? And about two hours, I think those are the questions you will have answers to.
GUPTA: If you don't want car insurance, don't buy a car, right?
SOCARIDES: And there's nothing wrong with broccoli.
O'BRIEN: Let's go back to --
SOCARIDES: I think we should have more broccoli. That will cut down costs of health care, as well.
O'BRIEN: And then the economics of this. There are some alternatives. Let's say that the individual mandate, in fact, is struck down. There are some who say, well, you could do an alternative or you could automatically be insured and opt out. A voluntary opt-in would be an option there, as well.
Can you describe the up sides and downsides of those? How realistic you think those options are.
KECKLEY: Well, let's remember what this was intended to do, as Sanjay said. It's intended to broaden the base, to increase the number of folks with insurance who are younger and healthier, especially. So, an opt-out would be at least volitional. You can opt-out of Medicare part A, which is hospital coverage. But most choose not to.
There are other options. States may end up having to use tax credits with employers to encourage insurance. Some states like Massachusetts may decide to have their own mandates.
There are at least a dozen alternatives to the individual mandate, all intended to stabilize the insurance market.
O'BRIEN: How would you -- and I'll start with you, Mr. Keckley and then I'll ask Sanjay to jump in -- how would you fix the system ultimately? You know, when you poll people, you see a large number, something like 51 percent people disapprove of the Affordable Care Act.
When you actually drill down to the individual items, they approve them by large numbers, 85 percent for preexisting conditions, 77 percent for allowing kids to remain on their parent's insurance up to age 26.
How would you fix the system? What would be true reform to you?
KECKLEY: Setting aside those who are virtually uninsurable because of terrible medical problems, which would be 5 percent or so of the population -- one, you'd definitely want to change the incentives from doing more to being paid for performance. In other words, ending fee for service. Second, you know, we'd want to apply the evidence to what we cover, instead of doing as much as we can, doing what the evidence suggest we should do.
Third, we need to leverage technology. So much of what we do doesn't require a physical exam in a doctor's office. So much can be done with technology appropriately.
I think last we have to find a way to change people's behavior. I think Sanjay quoted appropriately three out of four people overweight but lifestyle-related cost in the system are about 75 percent of its costs.
So, those would be the four. If you took a white board and started over, most would agree that's the direction we should go. The real question on the table is: does the Affordable Care Act actually do that and are there better ways to do that?
O'BRIEN: Paul Keckley is the health care economist -- thank you for joining us, sir. We appreciate it.
Do you think that's going to happen, Sanjay?
GUPTA: Well, I would preface by saying I don't think health care insurance necessarily leads to good health. I think that's an important point. You and I both know people who have terrifically good health insurance and who are in terrifically bad health.
So I think that this point that, you know, we need to become a healthier America and that's going to ultimately solve a lot of these problems --
O'BRIEN: That's a whole other question.
GUPTA: But, no, but I think it's important because we say, we're going to focus on health care insurance but we're still becoming wildly unhealthy. And that's driving up the health care costs and fueling this debate more so.
But I also don't know that disincentives work in this situation. I think incentivizing people to be healthy -- I think people want to be healthy. You're hard pressed to find somebody who says I'm perfectly fine just being unhealthy.
The question is they don't know how to do it. They're not empowered to do it. And they're not incentivizing someway. Disincentives just may not work here.
SOCARIDES: Can I -- I mean, I want to ask Sanjay, what do you say to people and don't you think that ultimately -- I mean, I think that the answer is single-payer universal coverage health care. I mean, some day we have to get to that in this country. I mean, I know that's not before the court today.
CAIN: That's a bomb to throw out here.
O'BRIEN: I was going to say. I'm talking about the Supreme Court. Hello.
SOCARIDES: I mean, that's the solution, isn't it?
GUPTA: I think, you know in many ways if you ask people who have studied this for a long time, that would have been a good solution 30 years ago. But, unfortunately, for people who believe in that that ship has sailed. We are an employer-based coverage.
We'd be trying to change all the parts of out of a moving train --
SOCARIDES: You have to change everything. We have to change everything.
GUPTA: And in the meantime, a lot of people would be left in the lurch. So, it could be a very good solution, but I think pragmatically speaking, how you get that done now would be very tough.
O'BRIEN: We're going to continue to have this conversation, hopefully with your bomb shells thrown into the middle.
Democratic senator --
SOCARIDES: Just wanted to get to him, you know?
O'BRIEN: I know.
Chuck Schumer is going to join us, Democratic senator from New York. He'll be our guest. She's going to join us live.
First, though, I want to get to the rest of the morning's top stories. Christine Romans has a look at those for us.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Soledad.
Let's start with breaking news in Syria. Two huge explosions have hit the capital city of Damascus. State-run media reports two blasts at the parking garage outside the Palace of Justice. At least three people were hurt and 20 cars damaged. It's just one day after seven people were killed when a pro-government TV station was bombed.
A few hours after the critical health care ruling, the House will vote on whether to cite Attorney General Holder for contempt of Congress. Holder's Justice Department has refused to turn over some documents subpoenaed by the House Oversight Committee concerning the failed "Fast and Furious" gun-tracking operation. That program allowed guns to end up in the hands of Mexican cartels that's linked to the death of a U.S. border patrol agent.
ROMANS (voice-over): Holder's justice department has refused to turn over some documents subpoenaed by the House Oversight Committee concerning the failed "Fast and Furious" gun tracking operation. That program allowed guns end up in the hands of Mexican cartel that's linked to the death of a U.S. border patrol agent.
President Obama asserted executive privilege over some of the documents requested by House Republicans. In just a few minutes, we'll talk to Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus about a possible walkout during that vote.
Two more Air Force instructors charged with sexual misconduct involving their cadet trainees at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. Six instructors are now facing charges in this growing scandal. Another pleaded guilty to an improper relationship as part of a plea deal.
The Air Force says it's launched an investigation covering all four bases that handle basic trainings in Texas and Mississippi.
Out of control wildfires in Colorado swelling overnight. The Waldo Canyon fire has now doubled, forcing 36,000 evacuations. And the erratic winds fueling those flames are expected to continue this morning. President Obama will visit Colorado tomorrow and thank the fire responders.
Meantime, find out how you can help those affected by the fires, go to CNN.com/Impact.
ROMANS (on-camera): Just amazing --
O'BRIEN: Those pictures are unbelievable. All right. Christine, thank you.
Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, Congress will make history if it holds a contempt vote against Attorney General Eric Holder today. Not everyone planning to participate, though. We're going to talk to Congressman Emanuel Cleaver about a potential protest. That's coming up next.
Here's Will's playlist. Dire Straits, "Money For Nothing." Mike for nothing --
O'BRIEN: You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. In just a few hours from now, really, less than two hours, the House of Representatives will make history. For the first time ever, they could hold a vote to hold a sitting United States attorney general in contempt of Congress.
They're voting against attorney general, Eric Holder, for withholding documents about the failed "Fast and Furious" program. Speaker John Boehner confirmed the vote. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R) HOUSE SPEAKER: Brian Terry's family has a right to know what happened. The American people have a right to know what happened. And, we're going to proceed. We've given them ample opportunity to comply even as late as yesterday.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Brian Terry is the border patrol agent who was killed by a group of bandits with guns that were traced back to "Fast and Furious." A final attempt by justice department officials to negotiate with House Republicans failed on Tuesday, and now, a group of House Democrats are planning a walkout to boycott the vote.
Democratic congressman, Emanuel Cleaver, is the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, which is leading the charge on the Democratic walkout. Good morning, sir. Nice to see you as always. Tell me a little bit more about this walkout. How many folks are expecting will walkout? Is it just the Congressional Black Caucus or more?
REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER, (D) MISSOURI: Well, there are a number of us who believe that it should be some group, some person, or some members who simply back away from the silliness. We don't want history to record that we participated in something that is so silly and detrimental to one human being.
There will be a number of people from the Democratic side who will do something dramatic and that in all likelihood would be walking out of the chamber.
O'BRIEN: Will the leadership take part in that walkout?
CLEAVER: Well, I doubt seriously if that's going to happen, because they're going to be needed on the floor. And what we're trying to do is to simply say to the American public, we don't want to participate in that. This whole deal stinks. And we don't want to be involved in this activity (ph).
O'BRIEN: What makes you say the deal stinks? I know you wrote a letter really telling everybody that you opposed the partisan attack, refuse to participate in any vote that would tarnish the image of Congress or an attorney general who's done nothing but work tirelessly to protect the rights of the American people.
That's a letter that you sent out warning of this walkout. So, when you say it stinks, what stinks about -- what's at work here, do you think?
CLEAVER: Well, first of all, Brian Terry's parents and family members deserve to know what happened to their son. This does nothing about revealing what happened to their son. And number two, this is a situation where Democrats were never able to bring to the committee any witnesses. Not even the AFT head who was involved in authorizing this gone bad gun toting project.
And we never had an opportunity either to have any kind of bipartisan dialogue, and the chairman of the committee just yesterday testifying before the rules committee admitted that, no, this is not a bipartisan move. And I think that with this pathological partisanship that we're now practicing in Washington, the public has already grown tired of it.
And instead of us trying to back away and figuring out how we can get 14 million people who are unemployed back to work, we're outdoing something that has absolutely no value to the republic.
O'BRIEN: What do you think the walkout will accomplish? Walkouts, as you well know, have been done before. Back in 2008, Alberto Gonzalez (ph) was the attorney general at that point and the contempt hearing as well was at issue. Republicans walked out. And in the end, it went to federal court, and they negotiated, and they got the documents. What does a walkout accomplish?
CLEAVER: Well, the walkout is not going to accomplish anything that will alter history. But it will show that some of us just don't want to observe an injustice taking place. Eric Holder's a good and decent man and shouldn't get caught up in this presidential political season. Look, we're in politics. I'm in politics. I understand.
If Republicans want to go after the president, they have all the rights they should do so with. They need to criticize him on all of the policies with which they disagree. They ought to push back on things that they believe to be alien to what the American public needs, but to attack a man and criminalize him, keep in mind this is not just something that's going to take place in the House.
There is a criminal vote that will be sent to the U.S. attorney's office in Washington, D.C. So, here's a man who gives of himself to the public and ends up facing a criminal prosecution on something that he had no involvement with. This started under President George Bush, and there are people out there who can bring that kind of testimony to the front.
But, the chair of the committee will not allow anyone to come and testify and provide very important information, because it would change the entire scenario that was designed for this awful day that we're about to face.
O'BRIEN: Congressman Emanuel Cleaver is the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. Nice to see you sir as always. Thanks for talking with us. Appreciate it.
CLEAVER: Good to be with you.
O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, one lawmaker says the Supreme Court no longer cares about the constitution. That's it all about politics when it comes to their healthcare decision. We're going to talk about what he said coming up next. Stay with us.
O'BRIEN: Welcome back to STARTING POINT. Let's talk politics, shall we? But this time, let's talk a little bit about the politics of the Supreme Court. Listen to California representative, Xavier Becerra, who was sort of mad. Here he goes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. XAVIER BECERRA, (D) CALIFORNIA: Probably the worst outcome we can see is a 5-4 decision, because I think that will go, unfortunately, a long way in confirming this growing belief in the gut of the American people that the Supreme Court no longer cares so much about the constitution. It cares more about politics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Will Cain rolled his eyes so dramatically while that was happening. I need to go to you to explain that. What was with the eye roll?
CAIN: Because it sets up a narrative that I'm sure we're going to hear for quite some time that any decision that is against the decision of people like Congressman Becerra want to see will be painted as political because it was a close decision, because of five to four. But you know what, there's five for it and four against it. I mean, why is that political? Why is that --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Judicial activism. That's what we're seeing.
CAIN: For those that charge the court is political, they have to answer a question and it arose this week and talking about in the break. If the court is political why did Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy strike down three out of four Arizona's immigration laws? That's a complete rebuttal to people say it's political.
O'BRIEN: Let's go do --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think a really important sign of what we might see today.
O'BRIEN: Let go to Jeff Toobin for that question. We know looking at polls that people feel when polled that the court, the Supreme Court, is becoming more political. But will raises a good question. Don't you see certainly in the immigration ruling that we just got down that maybe that's just not the case? JEFF TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: No, I don't agree with Will, you know. I think this is an intensely political court. You look at a case of like citizens united, five Republican nominees against the four democratic nominees.
Now, it doesn't apply in 100 percent of the cases but I would like to say in defense of a political court, when you look at the nature of these questions, when you look at the issues like what the government's role should be in health care, does the constitution protect a woman's right to an abortion, may a university consider race in admissions -- it is not possible to separate the political content from the legal content. The idea that you can somehow analyze these questions in a completely apolitical way I think is fictional. I don't blame them for being political, but I think it's important to point out they're political. It is the nature of interpreting the constitution that politics has a lot to do with it.
O'BRIEN: Jeff Toobin is outside of the Supreme Court. We're waiting for that 10:00 decision. You can hear more people clearly. It's noisier each time going to Jeff Toobin.
TOOBIN: I have done a lot of these in front of the Supreme Court. It's really who has a bull horn and who doesn't. It doesn't mean there's a lot of protesters.
O'BRIEN: There's one really noisy guy with a bullhorn.
TOOBIN: Don't draw any conclusions about public opinion.
O'BRIEN: Duly noted. Duly noted.
TOOBIN: There are 300 million people in the country and like 80 here. So I mean, really.
O'BRIEN: I had this morning a report of Brian Todd for a sense of what's happening around and behind Jeff Toobin from all that noise we hear. Thank you, Jeff. We'll ask you to stick around with us.
O'BRIEN: Still ahead this morning, Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer of the health care ruling live in a little bit. Plus, scenes of terror in Colorado as a wildfire is burning through neighborhoods forced tens of thousands of people to run for it. A live report from the wildfire zone. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in a moment.
O'BRIEN: Good morning. Welcome, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT. The clock is ticking. We are now just 90 minutes from the Supreme Court decision on health care law that could affect every single American. Senator Chuck Schumer will join us live straight ahead this morning.
First, though, we want to get Christine with a look at the day's top stories. Good morning, Christine.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning again.
We start with breaking news in Syria. The capital city of Damascus is reeling after two large explosions this morning. State run media reports two blasts hit the parking garage outside of the palace of justice. At least three people were hurt and 20 cars damaged. Across the country at least 50 people have been killed in fighting just today.
Meantime, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Russian counterpart will attend emergency talks this weekend on the crisis in Syria. U.N. envoy Kofi Annan called for this meeting to consider new proposals for a political transition in Syria after 15 bloody months.
Hundreds of homes on fire, 36 Colorado this morning. Take a look at the images of "The Denver Post" showing the extent of damage. The erratic winds fueling the flames not expected to let up this morning. Rob Marciano live for us in Colorado Springs. Good morning, Rob.
ROB MARCIANO, METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Christine. The sun is coming up on Colorado Springs. You can see over my left shoulder the smoke billowing of the subdivision and the edge of the forest on fire. 18,000 acres burned. Hundreds of homes burned, as well. No official count but thousands of people in a terrifying night had to evacuate on the run just two nights ago. The winds laid down a little bit last night but erratic fire behavior expected today because of thunderstorms likely to pop up and cause more in the way of gusty winds.
The heat obviously the main player with this and the dry conditions. That record breaking heat slides off towards the east and affect more than just people in the fire zone. Take a look at the numbers. Temperatures well up and over 1 100 and 110 in the high plains and all-time record breaking highs. Heat advisory over 20 states. Some east of Mississippi and heat builds toward the east coast with doing you heat expected in some cases right through the weekend. That's the latest from here. Christine, back up to you.
ROMANS: Unbelievable pictures. Thanks so much. Soledad?
O'BRIEN: Thank you so much.
We talked a little bit about protesters at the Supreme Court ahead of the health care ruling. Let's look at video of this morning where we are told hundreds of people lining up outside of the courthouse since last night. Brian Todd is there, as well. Brian, they look in these pictures sort of calm and relaxed. But they sounded noisy talking to Jeff Toobin. How is it today?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's getting noisier, Soledad. You have the demonstrators out here and early morning commuters rubber-necking and converging on the scene here. It's an exciting time in anticipation of the ruling.
Right now I'm in the middle of the tea party patriots. They have been here since early, early morning. Holding rallies later on today. Come on over here. We'll show you who some of the other disparate groups here. We have a pro health care group at the far corner here, another group against the plan chanting right here.
And of all things, our photo journalist, take a peek over there, belly dancers and health care. Who knew? This is another group against the health care plan. And I don't know if they're going to be able to keep up this pace in this heat, Soledad. It is about -- getting in to the 80s now. It's supposed to get in to the upper 90s. Let's move away from the noise a little bit to kind of get people over here.
And they can see a little bit of media crush, too. We'll walk through the crowd out here. Again, morning commuters mixed with demonstrators. Brian, if you could have the cameras and the lights over there, you can see this is reminiscent of the some of the high profile trials that the U.S. has experienced in recent years. The Casey Anthony trial, O.J. Simpson --
O'BRIEN: Wow, wow. Well, that really I had no idea that was behind Jeff Toobin. I got to tell you. The belly dancers for health care. Brian Todd, thank you for that update. We appreciate it. Wow.
CAIN: Sanjay had the question America wants to know. Is she belly dancer for or against?
O'BRIEN: I believe they were for it.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: They were against. They were against health care reform.
O'BRIEN: Oh, I got it wrong. I misunderstood him. I was distracted by the outfits then.
Health care decision, what does it mean for you moneywise? Money, I think, Christine ultimately frames this. The question underlying this is can we afford it?
ROMANS: Right, taxpayers money, the government's money, 16 cents of the American economy is health care. It's a huge industry, $1 trillion over 10 years. That's what the CBO says, expectations are. How much it costs to bring the people in and get them access to affordable insurance. It's taxes on hospitals, employers and you. According to the CBO, for the first ten years, first 20 years of health care reform, it cuts the deficit because it costs money to bring the people in to the system but they're finding ways to pay for it. How do you pay for it? If you're making $200 thousand dollars more per year, you will be paying higher Medicare taxes and higher taxes on the investments. That's one way. People uninsured will be fined they don't buy insurance. That helps pay for it. They get subsidies to help them afford it. That's how the money changes hand without insurance right now. Flexible spending accounts already changed and if you misuse it, there's taxes and fines for it and also the very famous lady we call it the part of the story, bringing in a tabloid story with a tanning booth. It's a dense subject.
O'BRIEN: That is so familiar. It's that super tan lady.
ROMANS: Yes, yes, yes. That's how it's meant to be and how the system is set up. What happens if it's part of it repealed? If some of it is repealed, that's the big question. I think cost for families, first people to see a cost change will be seniors because they get some breaks on prescription drugs in health care reform. Right away changes for seniors, people with preexisting conditions. Now the insurance companies told us they think they'll keep the kids 26 and under on their parent's insurance. That probably -- no matter what, that probably won't change right away I don't think. But you still have uncertainty, guys. There's still so much uncertainty. The Republicans said they'll take it apart bit by bit.
O'BRIEN: Talk to me, doctor. When you're working in the hospital. What's the tenor of the conversation happening?
GUPTA: People are talking about this. They're quite earnest to see what the decision is. I think for -- I work at a public, a university and staff a public hospital. Most of the patients over there do not have health care insurance. We see the patients coming in quite late in their diagnosis with much more critical problems than seen earlier.
You bring up the tanning booth and funny. Everyone says how does that fit? There are probably more people affected than the mandate itself and affects a small percentage of people.
GUPTA: Those affected by the mandate, probably not that many, even though it's a huge topic of discussion.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The main idea here, though, right, the big picture is main idea behind the law was to reduce costs for people broadly. And to make sure that everybody got insurance, right?
ROMANS: I would say access was the first thing here, access to health insurance. I don't think -- I mean, costs are going -- takeaway for American people are the costs are going up pretty much no matter what, right? Unless you have no insurance and never been to the hospital. I mean, you look at how much we pay if you have health care through your employer, that's going up. What we pay. I mean, health care inflation isn't going away. Am I right?
GUPTA: Yes. Not just the United States but a worldwide problem.
O'BRIEN: One hour 15 minutes until we hear from the Supreme Court on this issue. We're going to continue our health care conversation. Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer will be our guest. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) O'BRIEN: We're just a little more than an hour away from the Supreme Court's decision on President Obama's health care law. There has been no clear indication about which direction the court will go but Republicans in Congress are already planning their next moves should even parts of the law remain intact. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE SPEAKER: If the court does not strike down the entire law, the House will move to repeal what's left of it. Obama care is driving up the cost of health care and making it harder for small businesses to hire new workers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'BRIEN: Democratic Senator Charles Schumer is a member of the Judiciary Committee he has said that he's confident the court is going to uphold the law. You still think that's true. That's going to happen today.
SEN. CHARLES SHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Well, look it's silly to make predictions. What I said awhile back was they certainly have a right to uphold the law because they are well within the Commerce Clause but no one knows how the court is going to rule. And we'll know in an hour, Soledad.
O'BRIEN: You heard Boehner there saying just a moment ago that the -- he believes if the individual mandate is struck down, he's going to work to repeal the rest of the law. What will happen in the Senate?
SCHUMER: Well, does Speaker Boehner want to tell senior citizens that we're not going to fill the doughnut hole and help pay for their prescription drugs? Does Speaker Boehner want to tell kids out of college who can't afford health care they can no longer be part of their parent's plan? And does Speaker Boehner want to give free rein to insurance companies so they could charge huge amounts for nonmedical costs? We limit it to less than 20 percent and we make sure that you know if you didn't dot an "i" or crossed a "t" they can't cut you off your insurance once you get sick. Does he want to get rid of all of those things? The American people sure don't.
O'BRIEN: It sounds like you're saying that would be a strategy in the next five months. In fact if that were to happen in terms of campaigning for the White House.
SCHUMER: Well, look. There are lots of good things in this bill. And we hope that the Supreme Court will keep the whole bill intact. But certainly, keep the good parts of the bill intact. And if the House Republicans try to repeal those good parts, I think we'll be on very strong ground.
When you ask people about the overall bill, they're worried about it. When you ask people about lots of the individual parts, they love it. And --
O'BRIEN: So then, analyze that for me then, sir? So does that mean that the messaging was just terrible? Right because I mean, I'll give you the numbers 51 percent disapprove when you asked them overall. When you start navigating down to individual provisions, 85 percent approve of the pre-existing conditions; 77 percent approve of children being covered.
SCHUMER: Early on, look, if you look -- Soledad, people are unhappy with the present system before the health care bill ever went in to effect. Insurance companies just got away with everything. Rates were going up. And lots of things weren't covered.
I think as the bill, if the Supreme Court keeps it intact as the bill goes in to effect people will like it because it's what they want. Were there a parade of horribles put out by the enemies of the health care bill, whether they be ideological or had a pecuniary interest against it? Sure. But as people learn of the good things happening they want to keep them and that's what the data shows.
O'BRIEN: And if the individual mandate is struck down and the House tries to disassemble the rest of the bill altogether, what will be the -- the move by the Democratic leadership?
SCHUMER: We in the Senate will not go along with repealing the entire bill. That's for sure. No matter what the House does and that's because as I mentioned so many good things in the bill.
O'BRIEN: Do you think this was a failure of a message?
SCHUMER: I wouldn't say that. I would say in a big complicated bill the way our world works, frankly, the way the media work, they always emphasize the negative.
But as people see the actual effects, they are going to be very positive. Seniors love having their prescription costs covered more and more will be covered through 2017. I've heard from so many young people and their parents that it's such a relief that their kids can be on their health care plan.
O'BRIEN: Yes. But this polling seems --
SCHUMER: Those went into -- well, Soledad those went in to effect immediately. When the -- in 2014 when we have the competition among the insurance companies, and rates begin to level off, when we see that insurance companies can't charge more than 20 percent for advertising or salaries or profits and the rates start going -- the rate start -- stop increasing at such a large rate, people are going to like that, too.
O'BRIEN: Congressman Becerra we played a little chunk of what he said. He said, "People should praying tonight to make the Supreme Court doesn't come down 5-4 again because it's going to -- in his word, "unmask the court's political tendencies". Do you agree with him on that?
SCHUMER: Well, look. As I said, if they're just judging the law strictly on the merits, this is clearly within the Commerce Clause. They say there can't be mandate, we mandate car insurance on everybody. There are all kinds of mandates. The original Wickard v. Filburn case with the courts even Scalia has stuck with for 70 years said we can mandate that a farmer can't grow this amount of rice or that amount of wheat.
O'BRIEN: So if it's a 5-4 decision and it finds the law is unconstitutional would you agree with Congressman Becerra who says, listen, it looks political?
SCHUMER: You know again, I would like to read -- I would like to read the decision first. I will say this. I am troubled about previous decisions in the court, particularly Citizens United and Bush v. Gore being highly political. And I frankly am worried with -- about Justice Scalia's ventures in to politics way away from the law. But I'll have to wait and see the decision before I characterize it.
O'BRIEN: We're all saying that same thing. We're expecting it in just about an hour and eight minutes. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, nice to see you sir as always. Thanks for talking with us.
SCHUMER: Soledad it's good to talk to you. Thank you.
O'BRIEN: We appreciate it thank you.
We're going to be back with more right after this short break as we continue the countdown to this historic Supreme Court ruling on the health care law.
You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.
O'BRIEN: So how many people on this panel here believe that this in fact is going to be overturned in part or in whole?
WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Definitely.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: In part.
RICHARD SOCARIDES, WRITER, NEWYORKER.COM: Not me.
O'BRIEN: You think it's going to be upheld?
SOCARIDES: I think it's going to be upheld. I think people are going to be surprised today that the court is going to --
O'BRIEN: You want to put money on that?
SOCARIDES: Well, $1.
O'BRIEN: Ok that's how I bet.
SOCARIDES: Right? That's what we bet. Right, I'll bet you a dollar. Yes.
SOCARIDES: Yes, I mean I think it's going to be upheld. I think people are going to be surprised. I think that we're going to see Roberts not wanting to be seen as a conservative judicial activist. I think that the immigration ruling a couple of days ago was kind of foreshadowed this and it think it's going to squeak through and that all of this commotion will have been for naught.
O'BRIEN: I think I'm going to win a $1.
SOCARIDES: Ok well, we'll see.
O'BRIEN: I really do.
O'BRIEN: Will Cain?
CAIN: I think what I'm so interested in this -- this case, why I'm so interested and what I hope to find out today is this. There's going to be political discussions. There are very valid discussions about what it does to the health care market.
But I want to know the answer of what is the limit of the federal government's power? At one time I think we understood that, I think we're losing the concept. I hope that I can get some answer to that. What is the boundary? What can the federal government not do?
O'BRIEN: What do you want to know out of this, Sanjay?
GUPTA: Well, I think that the - the mandate is likely to be overturned as part of this. But I think people -- you brought this up all show today the people have not -- the messaging hasn't been good on this.
I think if you say, look, if you don't buy health care insurance in the year 2016 you will pay $695 as a penalty or 2.5 percent of your income. You're not -- no one's going to go to jail over that. The point is very few people are affected by the mandate. The penalties are quite small and it's not being criminalized. So it's -- they made a big deal about this. It could overturn and really disrupt the whole thing. And I don't think people realize how really it's a small part of this. There's 450 provisions in this health care law.
O'BRIEN: Well, it's now in the hands of the Supreme Court.
We've got to take a short break. We'll be back on the other side.
O'BRIEN: Thanks for watching STARTING POINT this morning. Let's get you right to special coverage of the Supreme Court's decision on the health care law. It begins right now with Wolf Blitzer who's in Washington, D.C. this morning. Hey Wolf, good morning.