Analogies between Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) and Confederate President Jefferson Davis are rather obvious in light of Perry’s suggestion that Texas might secede from the union and his wholehearted embrace of the union-destroying doctrine of nullification. Nevertheless, Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) former staffer Scott Galupo spots an unexpected similarity between how Davis and Perry view the Constitution:
I’m curious what Gov. Rick Perry and his fans think about the Constitution of the Confederate States of America. . . . [I]f you subtracted the slavery bits—as far as Perry (and, for that matter, many likeminded conservatives) is concerned—what’s not to like?
It included a line-item veto for the president. It prohibited protective tariffs (free trade!). It rejected Henry Clay-style federal financing of internal improvements (no stimulus!).
Galupo is on to something because, as it turns out, Rick Perry’s understanding of the Constitution is a whole lot closer to the Confederate Constitution that it is to anything resembling the Constitution of the United States:
- Social Security and Medicare. Rick Perry thinks that Medicare and Social Security are unconstitutional, but America’s Constitution empowers our nation to “lay and collect taxes . . . and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States” — a power which unambiguously enables it to enact essential programs such as Social Security and Medicare. The Confederate Constitution only permitted its congress to “lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises for revenue, necessary to pay the debts, provide for the common defense, and carry on the Government of the Confederate States.” Without the power to “provide for the general welfare,” Medicare and Social Security would be unconstitutional in the Confederacy.
- Infrastructure: The U.S. Constitution permits elected officials to build bridges, schools and other internal projects within a state. The Confederate Constitution, however, forbids its congress from “appropriat[ing] money for any internal improvement intended to facilitate commerce.” Such a ban would not only eliminate earmarks, which Perry falsely claims are “an unconstitutional perversion” on page 64 of his book Fed Up!, it would also have forbidden much in the way of economic stimulus — something Perry vehemently opposes.
- Presidential Power: In 2006, Perry called for expanding President Bush’s power by granting him a line-item veto enabling him to unilaterally alter federal appropriations. Line-item vetos are unconstitutional under the U.S. Constitution, but the Confederate Constitution provides that the President may “approve any appropriation and disapprove any other appropriation in the same bill.”
In other words, there seems to be a pretty good explanation for why Perry recently published Fed Up!, an anti-government manifesto claiming that pretty much everything that protects ordinary Americans’ ability to live fruitful and productive lives is unconstitutional. He must have been working off the wrong constitution.