NOW with Alex Wagner | June 25, 2012
>>> this is shaping up to be a pivotal week for president obama and his re- election campaign . on thursday, the supreme court will rule on the constitutionality of the president's signature health care law . but first, an addendum from the decision on the arizona immigration law , the white house has released a statement. the president writes i am pleased that the supreme court has struck down key provisions of arizona 's immigration law . what this decision makes unmistakably clear is that congress must act on comprehensive immigration reform . a patchwork of state laws is not a solution to our broken immigration system. it's part of the problem. he goes on to say he remains concerned about the practical impact of the remaining provision of the arizona law which is the stop and check your papers, give me your papers law provision. it goes on to say he will work with anyone in congress who is willing to make progress on comprehensive immigration reform that addresses our economic needs and security needs. he also makes a point in the middle of the statement of trumpeting his recent decision to amend our deportation laws. in terms of this statement and the white house and also comprehensive immigration reform we were discussing in the last block that that sort of is not the elephant in the room because i think everybody widely acknowledges that's what needs to be done but in terms of moving the ball forward on that, the jury is very much still out.
>> i think it's a problem because too many politicians are saying that you can't touch this at a time of a soft economy. you can't do something that creates a path to citizenship for undocumented workers when there are people here in this country who are here legally who don't have jobs. the problem with that argument and that sort of reluctance is the fact that actually passing a path to citizenship would be not just the moral thing to do, not just the american thing to do to create a pathway for new americans, but actually, would be a boon to our economy, creating millions of jobs, bringing people who are looking for work in this country in out of the economic shadows, lifting their wages, allowing them to be able to negotiate contracts legally and all of that. i think it's really sort of short-sighted not to move forward even in this economy.
>> john, now that we do have the white house statement, we know what's going on inside 1600 pennsylvania avenue , let's talk about the week broadly. there is a law on the president's docket or a lot they will be paying attention to as far as the contours possibly affecting the contours of the 2012 race. the health care ruling is of course the biggest on thursday. student loans , the lower rate is expected to expire on july 1st . there's a transportation bill in congress which expires on june 30th and imperils nearly three million construction jobs, and of course, the vote on whether to hold attorney general eric holder in contempt of congress. do you think whatever sort of incremental progress or sort of support has been voiced for the president's policies today is wiped away by a potential striking down of the affordable care act ?
>> the health care ruling, you look at those three other things, all three of those things on your list all would be big events that would drive news in any other week. the health care law is rightly seen as the huge deal and it's a huge deal on constitutional terms, in terms of the president's political standing, in terms of what we make of the president's first term in office given the centrality of it, everything he tried to do over the course of the first two years he's been here. i think it's enormous and it's like the others are tremors compared to what would be an earthquake. either way, whether in fact the health care ruling will have a huge impact at the polls in november is far less clear. but as an event that's going to drive an enormous amount of news in terms of analysis, in terms of spinning on both sides, it's going to blow everything else off the map.
>> we will be talking about it.
>> even on this show.
>> even on this show. mark, you know, sam stein from the huffington post did interesting reporting on the white house making contingency plans if the affordable care act or individual mandate is struck down. what's your assessment if it is struck down, how the white house plays it?
>> they will attack a politicized supreme court and say health care rights and benefits are being taken away from the court -- by the court from tens of millions of americans. i think that will be somewhat effective. but it won't be totally effective. i think the prism that the romney campaign is using now, and there's some justification to it, is is the president a strong leader. is the president someone who can deal with problems the country faces now and the challenges he faces politically and get things done this year and in a second term. if the law is struck down i think he'll need to be strong about it. all the other issues, can he get transportation bill through, can he get the student loan issue dealt with, how does he deal with the confrontation with congress over eric holder , i think people want him to be strong and on most of those issues, he has been, but he's going to need to push this week to show as a package like he did on immigration for younger people, that he is a strong leader.
>> i would say some of the argument against the court being sort of activist or beholden to conservative sway is somewhat undermined by the decision today which of course is a mixed bag, steve kornacki, is it not?
>> yeah, but again, all of that will be obviated by a ruling on thursday if it goes against the administration. i think the important thing to keep in mind, the conventional wisdom, if there was a morning line bet to be made about the ruling on thursday, it's the mandate gets struck down, the rest of the law remains intact. i think the thing to keep in mind if that is what happens is there is a school of thought that this law is still basically workable without the mandate because what you have here, you have the expansion of the medicaid at the state level, you have all the subsidies to help people buy private insurance. the idea that the mandate is so essential to this law is based on the notion there will be a --
>> also because the white house basically said it's mandate or bust.
>> at the state level where this has been tried at the state level where you don't have the added, the growth in medicaid, the subsidies, if you're just relying on the mandate like massachusetts, that probably would happen but there is a possibility here that this death spiral doesn't kick off. the question then is does the white house and more importantly, do democrats broadly stick with this law going forward. is this still their platform on health care if there's no mandate or do democrats start to panic and say we just want to run away from this thing now.
>> we are showing you a live shot of the president exiting marine one in new hampshire. he did not take any questions shouted at him regarding the supreme court decision. he is headed to portsmouth, new hampshire. we will bring you the latest on the president's actions in the minutes to come.