Christie: ‘I Was Glad the Supreme Court Ruled Extortion is Still Illegal ... Even When Done by the President’

By Patrick Burke | July 9, 2012 | 1:38pm EDT

( - New Jersey's Republican Gov. Chris Christie said Monday that he was “glad that the Supreme Court ruled that extortion is still illegal in America” and added,  “even when done by the president of the United States.”

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The former U.S. attorney was referring to the recent Supreme Court decision that the Medicaid provision in the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, was unconstitutional.

At a talk at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., on Monday, Christie was asked,  “As you know, a couple of weeks ago we had the Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare, and everyone’s talking about the mandate: Is it a mandate? Is it a tax? I’d welcome your comments on that. But the other component of the ruling was on Medicaid, on the Medicaid expansion, and this has a direct impact on the states, in that you can now opt out of the Medicaid expansion without losing your current Medicaid funding. Is this something that you’ve decided in thinking about for your upcoming fiscal year budget or is this a ‘wait and see’ for New Jersey?”

Gov. Christie said, “Well, a few things. Directly, it’s a wait-and-see on us -- just found out about it, so it won’t affect our Fiscal (Year)  ’13 budget. We have to look at Fiscal ’14 and ’15 as when it will really have an impact.”

With regard to the Medicaid decision, Christie said, “First of all, I was glad that the Supreme Court ruled that extortion is still illegal in America. That’s a relief because Obamacare on Medicaid to the states was extortion. Essentially [it] said you expand your program to where we tell you and, if you don’t, we’re taking all the rest of your money away. Well, that’s extortion. It was in a whole bunch of nice words in a bill, but it was extortion."

“So I’m really glad that a majority of the Supreme Court still supports the proposition -- as a former prosecutor -- that extortion is still illegal in a country, even when done by the president of the United States," said Christie.

The governor also noted that New Jersey's Medicaid programs was already the second-most inclusive program in the country -- behind New York's -- and didn't have much room for expansion of coverage.

The so-called "Medicaid expansion" in Obamacare expands Medicaid coverage to all those earning less than 133 percent of the federal poverty level. However, it also would have compelled states to expand their programs in order to retain current Medicaid funding from the federal government.

In its ruling on the Affordable Care Act on June 28, the Supreme Court struck down the provision forcing states to dramatically expand their Medicaid programs as unconstitutional.

Since the ruling, several governors across the country -- including three Democrats -- have stated publicly that they will not expand the Medicaid program in their respective states.

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