Yesterday on CBS’s Face the Nation, Alaska GOP U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller suggested that both Medicare and Social Security are unconstitutional. When Bob Schieffer wondered whether Miller’s ideas — that Social Security should be privatized and that Medicare should be phased out — were too extreme, Miller shot back, citing the Constitution. “I would suggest to you that if one thinks that the Constitution is extreme then you’d also think the Founders are extreme,” he said.
Today on ABC’s Top Line, host Rick Klein asked Miller to expound. “Do you think those programs are constitutionally authorized?” Miller dodged, first — noting that his parents benefit from Social Security and Medicare — arguing that they should be preserved now, but “transition” to a privatization model in the future. Then, Miller again suggested the programs are not constitutional:
MILLER: I think we have to look at transferring power back to the states in such a way that states can then look at solutions that may be more appropriate. Then ultimately, when you look at the Constitution and you evaluate what the plan was originally, it was for states to take on more power than the federal government, particularly in the areas of, such as those things that may promote the general welfare. It was not a federal role.
Later on MSNBC, host Andrea Mitchell asked if Social Security and Medicare are “legal” and “should be mandated” by Congress and again, Miller dodged, saying, “I do believe that the Constitution mandates that we transfer power from the feds back to the states.” Watch the compilation:
Miller’s claim that the Constitution gives states the sole power to provide for general welfare is exactly wrong. In fact, Article I, Section 8 specifically states:
“The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.”
Miller appears to be embracing what the Wonk Room’s Ian Millhiser describes as “tentherism,” the belief adopted by many on the right that posits that progressive policies such as health care reform and entitlement programs are an unconstitutional infringement on states’ rights.