• With: Nick Ragone

    This is a rush transcript from "Your World," February 17, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

    ERIC BOLLING, GUEST HOST: So, you think the Founding Fathers would fancy ObamaCare? Well, Nancy does. OK.

    (LAUGHTER)

    BOLLING: Well, historian Nick Ragone says House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi might need the history -- need to hit the history books.

    Nick, Nancy Pelosi thinks that ObamaCare would fly with the Founding Fathers.

    What say you?

    NICK RAGONE, PARTNER, KETCHUM: Well, I think it's always a little bit difficult to kind of appropriate what the Founding Fathers would think on a current issue.

    It's just dangerous, whether you're on the left or right. But I think -- I think Nancy went a little far in trying to say that the Founding Fathers would be fine with where the Affordable Care Act has gone. And sort of, as you mentioned in the previous segment, the use of executive orders to change it now 29 times since its passage is a bit unusual for a major piece of legislation.

    So, I just think it's dangerous territory to bring the founding -- Founding Fathers into that debate, even on Presidents Day.

    BOLLING: All right, let's take a listen to the sound bite we couldn't hear just a minute ago. Take a little.

    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

    REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-CALIF., HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: The law is very sound policy. To go back to our founders once again, they sacrificed it all for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    This bill, the Affordable Care Act, is about a healthier life, the liberty to pursue your happiness. That's solid policy, and that is -- the mandate is central to that.

    (END VIDEO CLIP)

    BOLLING: The mandate. The mandate is central to that. And that's the part that really kind of caught our attention.

    RAGONE: Yes.

    I mean, certainly, the mandate is part of the law and an important part. Now, her earlier point about saying that the Founding Fathers were about life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, yes, they were, but to them 200- plus years ago that pursuit was against government tyranny, not looking to the government to provide a pathway to life, liberties -- liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    So it's just -- it's a little out of context and I think it's a bit of an overreach to bring in the Founding Fathers in trying to make a case for the law. I think -- I think you should make a case for the law on the merits of the bill and what it does...

    BOLLING: Yes.

    RAGONE: ... vs. how the Founding Fathers would think about it.

    BOLLING: All right, let's do it this way first. Let's read something from the Founding Fathers, James Madison, in fact. And then we will have Nancy Pelosi say something and see if this kind of counteracts their view and their opinion.

    Again, "It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read or so incoherent that they cannot be understood."

    And that's James Madison. Now, take a listen to what Nancy Pelosi said about this exact law.

    (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

    PELOSI: ... to pass the bill so that you can find out what is it in it away from the fog of the controversies.

    (END VIDEO CLIP)

    BOLLING: And doesn't that exactly, exactly run in the face of what -- what James Madison was saying right there?

    RAGONE: It was -- yes.

    BOLLING: Don't make...

    (CROSSTALK)

    BOLLING: ... so big, don't make them so complicated that you don't even know what is in it, what you're passing.

    RAGONE: Yes, that was exactly Madison's point. Remember, Madison was one of the co-authors of the Federalist Papers, so he really believed in sort of transparency, and this idea that back then, 200-plus years ago, most laws were a page or two or three, not thousands of pages.

    And so one the big -- one the big criticisms of the Affordable Care Act is that it's so big that most members had not even read through it when -- when the bill was passed. And so I think Madison's point is a good one.

    BOLLING: Nick, we -- we -- I wanted to read one more comment from a founding father and then let you break this down a little bit.

    This is Benjamin Franklin who said, "Those who give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety" -- Benjamin Franklin.

    What did he mean by that?

    RAGONE: It's one of -- Franklin had many great quotes, one of those kind of paradoxes, but if you think that for the sake of simplicity you're going to get long-term liberty and freedom, you are going to get neither.

    And I think it was a stark admonition that George Washington picked up in many of his utterances, and Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson and others, which is there's sort of no easy path to liberty and for freedom. It's not a God-given right. It needs to be earned and protected over time. And there's no shortcuts to it.

    BOLLING: All right, we are going to leave it right there. Nick Ragone, thank you very much.