Va. attorney general Ken Cuccinelli: Supreme Court ruling isn’t actually so bad

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Alex Pappas
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      Alex Pappas

      Alex Pappas is a Washington D.C.-based political reporter for The Daily Caller. He has also written for The Washington Examiner and the Mobile Press-Register. Pappas is a graduate of The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., where he was editor-in-chief of The Sewanee Purple. While in college, he did internships at NBC's Meet the Press and the White House. He grew up in Mobile, Ala., where he graduated from St. Paul's Episcopal School. He and his wife live on Capitol Hill.

Virginia Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli told The Daily Caller that after reviewing the Supreme Court’s decision on President Barack Obama’s health care law, he’s changed his mind and determined that the ruling actually isn’t so bad for the country in the long-term because it actually curbs federal power.

“If you asked me at the beginning of this process if I could have this ruling, would I take it, I’d have taken it,” Cuccinelli said in a Thursday afternoon phone interview.

The attorney general said he and his staff were gathered in their executive conference room early Thursday when they watched the news that the court largely upheld Obama’s health care law.

Cuccinelli’s first reaction was “negative,” he said, “based primarily on the fact that the law mostly stayed up.” He reacted Thursday morning by putting out a press release saying, “This is a dark day for American liberty.”

But his thoughts on the decision changed, the Republican said, as he dived into the ruling. “Once we got into the opinions, we got considerably more optimistic because our first motivation here is protection of the Constitution and restraint of the federal government. And that was very much achieved in this case.”

How so?

“We got two unique limits that have never been put on the federal government since the New Deal, both on spending power and on the commerce clause power,” Cuccinelli told TheDC.

The attorney general, currently running for Virginia governor, explained that the “part that had the biggest impact on our state budget” is the “expansion of the Medicaid program, which the Supreme Court said that the Congress may not use its spending power to compel us to do.” (FLASHBACK: Virginia attorney general compares Obama to King George III)

He also said that “when you think of the impact on future legislation, the fact that the chief justice has forced Congress into using the taxing power and only the taxing power for this kind of scheme, they’re going to have to take tax votes in the future that really require an awful lot more political support to be able to pass.”

“We’re in much better shape there than we were before this morning,” he admitted.

Added Cuccinelli: “Obviously we would’ve rather the whole bill fell and not just the part that compels states to participate in expanding Medicaid. But we’ll take what we can get.”

While he acknowledged that conservatives are measuring whether the ruling is good for them “by whether the bill is left standing or not,” he thinks they will see things differently in the future.

“One hundred years from now this will be looked on as a win,” he said.

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