Before Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) threw his hat into the presidential ring this weekend, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) was the uncontested leader in the race to be the top-tier GOP presidential contender with the deepest contempt for the Constitution. Perry’s entry into this race, however, leaves Bachmann eating his dust. Simply put, Gov. Rick Perry is one of the most radical constitutional thinkers to ascend to the national stage in nearly a century. A short list of Perry’s beliefs about the Constitution includes:
- Medicare and Social Security are unconstitutional: Perry believes that the Constitution forbids a “federally operated program of pensions” and “a federally operated program of health care,” a position that would not only eliminate Social Security and Medicare, but would also eliminate other health care programs such as Medicaid for the poor and SCHIP for children.
- Federal environmental laws are unconstitutional “nonsense”: In an interview with Glenn Beck, Perry claimed that the idea that the federal government can require action to “clean our air is really nonsense.”
- Bankrupting the federal government: In a recently published book, Perry writes that “[t]he American people mistakenly empowered the federal government during a fit of populist rage in the early twentieth century by giving it an unlimited source of income (the Sixteenth Amendment).” It’s no surprise that a contender for the GOP presidential nomination is anti-tax, but Perry’s blanket opposition to federal income taxes — which are authorized by the Sixteenth Amendment — would make it virtually impossible to fund Social Security, Medicare, or the U.S. military.
- Democracy is a mistake: In the same book, Perry also opposes the Seventeenth Amendment, which requires senators to be chosen by an election and not by political insiders.
- Texas may secede: Perhaps most infamously of all, Perry once suggested that if the federal government doesn’t do what he wants, Texas may have to secede from the union entirely.
After the House GOP voted almost unanimously to phase out Medicare, it should be obvious to all Americans that Republicans want to turn the nation into a far meaner and more draconian nation. Nevertheless, Perry’s emergency as a top-tier GOP presidential candidate opens a whole new chapter in the GOP’s war on children, seniors and working Americans. Perry would not simply ask Congress to repeal nearly all of the progress of the last 100 years, he insists that the Constitution will not allow programs like Medicare and Social Security even if the American people repeatedly and consistently vote for lawmakers that support these essential programs.