Tonight, the Tea Party Express will co-host yet another debate among the eight Republican presidential candidates, where they will no doubt push the candidates to align their views with Tea Party orthodoxy. Because few issues define the Tea Party more than its plan to radically rethink the Constitution into an anti-government manifesto, we suggest the following five questions:
- Social Security: In the book Fed Up!, Texas Gov. Rick Perry writes that Social Security is “something we have been forced to accept for more than 70 years” and that it exists “at the expense of respect for the Constitution and limited government.” Raise your hand if you agree with Gov. Perry that Social Security exists at the Constitution’s expense.
- Medicare: Once of the Tea Party’s leading supporters, Sen. Tom Coburn, recently suggested that Medicare is unconstitutional because “that’s a family responsibility, not a government responsibility.” Do you agree with Sen. Coburn that we should leave it up to families to care for their parents and grandparents on their own?
- Workers’ Rights: Tea Party Sen. Mike Lee believes that federal child labor laws are unconstitutional because the Constitution “was designed to be a little bit harsh,” and Gov. Perry questions the constitutional basis of “national labor laws” in Fed Up!. Do you agree with Lee and Perry that the Constitution was designed to be a little bit harsh to American workers?
- Disaster Relief: Sen. Lee also believes that the federal government should not play a role in disaster relief because “states will prepare differently if they understand that it’s their responsibility rather than that of the federal government.” Do you agree with Lee that states ravaged by hurricanes, earthquakes or tornadoes should be left to fend for themselves?
- Citizenship: The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees that all persons born in the United States “are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside,” with a very narrow exception for children of ambassadors and other people who aren’t subject to U.S. law. Yet 96 members of Congress, including Rep. Michele Bachmann, co-sponsored legislation declaring that the children of undocumented immigrants no longer enjoy birthright citizenship. Do you agree with Congresswoman Bachmann that Congress has the power to strip people of their citizenship?
Other possibilities include whether the candidates agree with Perry that it is unconstitutional for Congress to try to avoid another banking crisis like the one that triggered the Great Recession. And whether the candidates agree with Sen. Coburn’s claim that all federal education programs — from Title I to Pell Grants to federal student loans — violate the Constitution.