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What If the Tea Party Wins?

What If the Tea Party Wins?

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Ian Millhiser examines some of the
essential programs that leading Tea Partiers would declare unconstitutional.
Ian Millhiser examines some of the
essential programs that leading Tea Partiers would declare unconstitutional.

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Categories:Types, Research, Law
Published by: Center for American Progress on Sep 16, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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1Center or American Progress | What i the Tea Party Wins?
What if the Tea Party Wins?
 They Have a Plan for the Constitution, and it Isn’t Pretty
Ian MillhiserSeptember 2011
In he ea Pary’s America, amilies mus morgage heir home o pay or heir moher’send-o-lie care. Higher educaion is a luxury reserved almos exclusively o he very rich. Roten mea ships o supermarkes naionwide wihou a naional agency oinspec i. Fahers compee wih heir adolescen children or sub-minimum wage jobs. And our naional leaders are uterly powerless o do a hing. A leas, ha’s wha would happen i he ea Pary succeeds in is eor o rei-magine he Consiuion as an anigovernmen manieso. While he House o Represenaives pushes Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) plan o phase ou Medicare, numer-ous members o Congress, a leas one Supreme Cour jusice, and he governor o  America’s second-larges sae now proudly declare ha mos o he progress o helas cenury violaes he Consiuion.I is dicul o coun how many essenial laws would simply cease o exis i he eaPary won is batle o reshape our ounding documen, bu a shor lis includes:
Social Securiy and Medicare
Medicaid, SCHIP, and oher healh care programs
 All ederal educaion programs
 All ederal anipovery programs
Federal disaser relie 
Federal ood saey inspecions and oher ood saey programs
Child labor laws, he minimum wage, overime, and oher labor proecions
Federal civil righs lawsIndeed, as his paper explains, many sae lawmakers even embrace a discredied consi-uional docrine ha hreaens he union isel.
2Center or American Progress | What i the Tea Party Wins?
What’s at stake
Te ea Pary imagines a consiuion ocused enirely upon he enh Amendmen, which provides ha “Te powers no delegaed o he Unied Saes by he Consiuion,nor prohibied by i o he Saes, are reserved o he Saes respecively, or o hepeople”—which is why heir narrow vision o he naions power is oen reerred o as“enherism.”
In layman’s erms, he enh Amendmen is simply a reminder ha heConsiuion conains an iemized lis o ederal powers—such as he power o regulaeinersae commerce or esablish pos oces or make war on oreign naions—and any-hing no conained in ha lis is beyond Congress’s auhoriy.Te ea Pary, however, believes hese powers mus be read oo narrowly o permimuch o he progress o he las cenury. Tis issue brie examines jus some o heessenial programs ha leading ea Pariers would declare unconsiuional.
Social Security and Medicare
Te Consiuion gives Congress he power “o lay and collec axes, duies, imposs andexcises, o pay he debs and provide or he common deense and general welare o heUnied Saes,” hus empowering he ederal governmen o levy axes and leverage heserevenues or programs such as Social Securiy and Medicare. A disurbingly large numbero eleced ocials, however, insis ha hese words don’ acually mean wha hey say.In a speech o he conservaive American Legislaive Exchange Council, exas Gov.Rick Perry lised a broad swah o programs ha “conradic he principles o limied,consiuional governmen ha our ounders esablished o proec us.
Gov. Perry’s lisincludes Medicare and “a bankrup social securiy sysem, ha Americans undersandis essenially a Ponzi scheme on a scale ha makes Bernie Mado look like an amaeur.” And Perry is hardly he only high-ranking eleced ocial o share his view.Sen. Mike Lee (R-U) mocked Presiden Franklin Delano Roosevel or callingupon he ederal governmen o provide “a decen reiremen plan” and “healh care” because “he Consiuion doesn’ give Congress any o hose powers.”
Rep. BobGoodlate (R-VA), who engineered he House o Represenaives’s dramaic read-ing o he Consiuion earlier his year, claimed ha Medicare and Social Securiy are “no in he Consiuion” and are only allowed o exis because “he cours havesreched he Consiuion o say i’s in he general welare clause.”
Sen. om Coburn(R-OK) said we should eliminae Medicare because “ha’s a amily responsibiliy, noa governmen responsibiliy.”
 Because his erroneous view o our ounding documen is rooed in an exaggeraed view o he enh Amendmen’s saes righs’ provision, many so-called enhers claim ha
3Center or American Progress | What i the Tea Party Wins?
eliminaing Social Securiy and Medicare wouldn’ necessarily mean kicking millions o seniors ou ino he cold because sae governmens could enac heir own reiremenprograms o pick up he slack. Tis proposal, however, ignores basic economics.Under our curren sysem, someone who begins heir career in Ohio, moves o Virginia oaccep a beter job oer, and hen reires in Florida pays he same ederal axes regardlesso heir residence. Tese axes hen und programs such as Medicare and Social Securiy. I each sae were responsible or seting up is own reiremen sysem, however, he persondescribed above would pay Ohio axes while hey worked in Ohio, Virginia axes whilehey lived in Virginia, and would draw benes rom he sae o Florida during heir reire-men. Te sae which beneed rom heir axes would no be he same sae ha wasrequired o und heir reiremen, and he resul would be an economic deah spiral orsaes such as Florida ha atrac an unusually large number o reirees.For his reason, enher proposals o simply le he saes ake over Social Securiy and Medicare are nohing more han a backdoor way o eliminae hese programsalogeher. I he ea Pary ges is way, and our naion’s social saey ne or seniorsis declared unconsiuional, millions o seniors will lose heir only income and heironly means o pay or healh care.
Medicaid, the State Children’s Health Insurance Program,and other health care programs
Te ea Pary’s consiuion has pleny o bad news or Americans below he reiremenage as well. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), or example, recenly claimed ha any ederalinvolvemen in healh care whasoever is unconsiuional because “he words ‘healhcare’ are nowhere in he Consiuion.”
 Sen. Coburn lumped Medicaid in wih Medicare when he claimed ha providing or herailes Americans is a “amily responsibiliy,
and Gov. Perry includes Medicaid on hislis o programs ha “conradic[] he principles o limied, consiuional governmen.
 Sen. Mike Lee’s (R-U) claim ha “he Consiuion doesn’ give Congress” any auhor-iy over healh care is a blanke saemen encompassing all ederal healh programs.
I his vision were o be implemened, all ederal healh care programs would simply cease o exis and millions o Americans would lose heir only access o healh insurance.
Educaion is also on he ea Pary’s chopping block. Rep. Scot Garret (R-NJ)rouinely grills educaion secrearies a congressional hearings, insising ha he

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The "Tea Party" is a front for the extreme right wing of the Republican Party. The Republican Party already has won, and they will continue to win until people realize that the social safety net created since the 1930s is under attack from ideological extremists. And those extremists now control the Republican Party. What more do you need to know?
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