ThinkProgress filed this report from a town hall in Derry, NH.
This weekend in New Hampshire, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) doubled down on his belief that programs ranging from Medicaid to federal assistance to low-income public school students violate the Constitution.
Speaking to a town hall crowd in Derry, Perry told the audience that “there is nothing in that Constitution says Washington DC is supposed to be telling us how to deliver health care.” The Texas Governor went on to express his belief that “there’s nothing in there that says Washington DC is supposed to be telling us how to educate our children.”
PERRY: One of the last things, number 6 [on the pledge I just signed] is to faithfully and forcefully uphold, follow and protect the United States Constitution. There is nothing in that Constitution that says Washington D.C. is supposed to be telling us how to deliver health care. There’s nothing in there that says Washington D.C. is supposed to be telling us how to educate our children. That needs to stop. And I’m the president that’s going to stand up and say, “no longer is Washington D.C. going to mandate back to the states how to take care of health care or their children.”
In fact, there is ample justification in the Constitution for the federal government to be involved in health care. Article I Section 8 of the Constitution allows the federal government raise revenues and use them to provide for the “general welfare” of the nation. As ThinkProgress legal expert Ian Millhiser explains this includes the power to offer money to states if they agree to comply with certain conditions:
The federal government does give Texas some extremely generous grants, which Texas is allowed to keep so long as it spends the money according to certain instructions, but Perry is perfectly free to give the money back if he doesn’t like these instructions. . . .
The federal government provides a very generous program called Medicaid that allows Texas to provide health care to millions of Texans. Rick Perry is perfectly free to give this money back if he doesn’t want the federal government in his business. Indeed, Perry even flirted with doing just that before he realized that Medicaid is actually a really great deal for Texas that he didn’t want to turn down.
Millhiser concluded that “Perry’s suggestion that he should get all the money without the strings doesn’t make him a hero of the 10th Amendment, it just makes him a mooch.”
Indeed, Perry has developed a habit in his campaign of simply dismissing those programs he dislikes as “unconstitutional.” Despite the fact that the federal government’s involvement in health care, from Medicare to Medicaid to the Affordable Care Act, has kept millions out of poverty and averted thousands of preventable deaths, Perry has made dismantling these “unconstitutional” programs the centerpiece of his political belief system.