The newest in a series of far-right political movements is “tentherism.” Tenthers are part of a radical ideology that references the 10th amendment to claim that the federal government does not have a right to enact a whole host of government programs. Under the tenther belief system, “Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, federal education funding, the Veterans Affairs health system and the G.I. Bill are all illegal… [and] beyond Congress’ power to enact.”
Yesterday, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that a group of Republican state legislators in Georgia planned to introduce legislation that would “invoke the 10th amendement” to allow Georgia to opt out of participation in any federal health care legislation:
A group of Republican state senators on Thursday said they want to amend the state’s Constitution in an attempt to stop Democrats in Washington from enforcing health care reform here.
Sens. Judson Hill (R-Marietta) and Chip Rogers (R-Marietta) were joined by about half a dozen colleagues to unveil their plans. The resolution would be introduced when lawmakers return in January.
The proposed amendment would, Hill and Rogers said, would allow Georgia to invoke the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. That amendment says that any power not explicitly granted the federal government in the Constitution is preserved for the states.
While Hill and Rogers are playing politics with their extremist reading of the Constitution, Georgians without health care continue to suffer. As of March 2009, 2,929,000 Georgians under the age of 65 were uninsured — nearly 34 percent of the state’s total population. More than three-quarters of these Georgians went without health care for six months or longer between 2007 and 2008.
One group of Georgians does have guaranteed, high-quality health coverage: Medicare recipients. As of 2008, 1,145,727 Georgians benefited from Medicare, a program Hill refuses to call constitutional. Commenting on the tenther bill, the leading Georgian conservative blog Peach Pundit writes, “Somebody didn’t think this one through.”
The efforts by Hill and his colleagues are similar to those of a group of Republican state legislators in Florida who are trying to enact legislation that would prevent Floridans from taking part in any new federal health care plan.
Hill wrote yesterday at PeachPundit that his legislation is designed to counter a federal insurance mandate so that Georgians can “choose whether or not to participate in any insurance plan.” Yet in 2007 he co-sponsored legislation that would’ve required Georgians above a certain income level to purchase private insurance or face steep fines.