Virginia’s tea partying Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) has a new book out today: The Last Line of Defense: The New Fight for American Liberty. Here are ten of the most bizarre ideas advanced by this book:
1) Medicare Is ‘Despicable, Dishonest, and Worthy of Condemnation’
Cuccinelli quotes a story about an “elderly woman painfully huddled on a heating grate in the dead of winter . . . hungry and in need of shelter and medical attention.” It would be wrong, according to this tale, for a mugger to “walk up to you using intimidation and threats” in order to steal money to pay for the woman’s care. And so, this story concludes, it must also be wrong for government to use its power to tax and spend in order to provide for a sick woman’s needs:
What if instead of personally taking your money to assist the woman, I got together with other Americans and asked Congress to use Internal Revenue Service agents to take your money? . . . Don’t get me wrong. I personally believe that assisting one’s fellow man in need by reaching into one’s own pockets is praiseworthy and laudable. Doing the same by reaching into another’s pockets is despicable, dishonest, and worthy of condemnation.
2) Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid and Food Stamps Are Deliberate Attacks On Americans’ Freedom
In what is already one of the most quoted lines in the book, Cuccinelli attacks the entire social safety net
One of [politicians'] favorite ways to increase their power is by creating programs that dispense subsidized government benefits, such as Medicare, Social Security, and outright welfare (Medicaid, food stamps, subsidized housing and the like). These programs make people dependent on government. And once people are dependent, they feel they can’t afford to have the programs taken away, no matter how inefficient, poorly run, or costly to the rest of society.
3) If We Don’t Tax People, They’ll Just Give All Their Money Away To Charity
“Your government will never love you,” Cuccinelli proclaims. Only “[c]hurches and charities can love you and nurture your soul.” So Social Security and Medicare are bad because they take money away that could go to charities that love you — “[i]f instead of spending all this money on social service programs, the government left all those dollars in the hands of the taxpayers, Americans would have more money to donate to private charities and churches.” It apparently does not occur to Cuccinelli that David Koch or Grover Norquist might do something other than fund a nationwide retirement and health care program if relieved of the need to pay taxes.
4) All Welfare Is Unconstitutional
“[P]ublic charity was never supposed to be a function of the federal government,” proclaims Cuccinelli, citing a single 1794 speech on the Constitution by James Madison. In reality, Madison led a minority faction during the early days of the Republic to shrink America’s power to govern itself more than the Constitution’s text permits. He lost.
5) Antitrust Law Is Unconstitutional
Cuccinelli also strongly implies that the Sherman Antitrust Act, which prevents monopolies, cartels and similar practices that allow wealthy corporations to exploit consumers, is unconstitutional — “For the first hundred years of our national existence, the Commerce Clause functioned just as Madison and the framers had expected. However, beginning with the Interstate Commerce Act in 1887 and the Sherman Antitrust Act in 1890, Congress began asserting more affirmative power under the Commerce Clause.”
6) George Washington Did Not Understand The Constitution
Cuccinelli claims that the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that most people carry health insurance is unconstitutional because the same logic would also permit a gun mandate — “[i]magine how apoplectic the big-government statists would get if Congress voted to force everyone to buy a gun!” In 1792, however, President George Washington signed a law that did actually require many Americans to buy firearms, in addition to a long list of other military equipment. A gun mandate would certainly be a stupid idea today, but neither George Washington nor the many framers who sat in the Congress that passed this law thought it was unconstitutional.
7) Pregnant Women And Women With Breast Cancer Should Lose Health Care
Cuccinelli attacks laws requiring insurers to cover certain kinds of care, likening them to forced food purchases — “[i]imagine if you never ate kumquats or sweet potatoes, but the grocery store was required to include them in your grocery bag . . . . That’s what happens with coverage mandates.” In reality, of course, no lawmaker would vote for a kumquat mandate, but 49 states and the District of Columbia have laws requiring health plans to cover reconstructive surgery after breast cancer, mammograms, and maternity stays. Cuccinelli backs a health plan that would eliminate these protections.
8) Global Warming Is A Conspiracy Among Climate Researchers To Trick People Into Giving Them Money
In a chapter detailing his legal witchhunt against a leading climate scientist, Cuccinelli suggests that the entire idea that global warming exists is actually a massive conspiracy to trick funders:
One reason climate researchers may have given up the purity of science to forward a global warming agenda was simply for the research money. When researchers in the field of climatology predicted a global warming doomsday, governments were willing to shovel lots of money in their direction to try to find ways to stop it.
To explain the fact that no scientist has yet come forward to blow the whistle on this nefarious plot, Cuccinelli concludes that they must have “felt intimidated by their colleagues, the media, and high-ranking government officials.”
9) Net Neutrality Is Like Stealing Someone’s Land
Net neutrality is the idea that Internet service providers should treat all data equally, rather than censoring content that they do not approve of or slowing it down. Cuccinelli likens regulations seeking to maintain net neutrality to land theft — “Internet service providers owned the pipelines that got people onto the Internet, which made this a private property issue, too . . . . We rightly balk when the government seizes a home and turns it over to a private developer to build a mall because that is offensive to our notion of property rights. This situation is very much the same.”
10) Liberty Is Just Like Pie
Cuccinelli concludes with an odd metaphor:
The liberty pie never changes size. It never grows or shrinks, and it has only two slices: government power and citizen’s liberty. What changes are the size of the slices.
Every single thing government does to increase its own power increases the size of its slice of the liberty piece. Since there are only two slices, every time the government’s slice of the liberty pie grows, the citizens’ slice is reduced.
Pie is delicious, but Cuccinelli has a very poor understanding of liberty. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 increased the federal government’s authority to intrude upon business owners who engage in segregation, but anyone who lived under the yoke of Jim Crow understands that it also massively expanded human liberty. The same can be said about Medicare, Medicaid or the Affordable Care Act, which all preserve the single most important freedom of all — the freedom to remain alive and healthy.
Simply put, freedom is not just another word for nothin’ left to lose, and Cuccinelli is wrong to claim otherwise.