The defining feature of fading former GOP frontrunner Rick Perry is his radical understanding of the Constitution. Perry believes that Social Security and Medicare are unconstitutional. He considers Medicaid and federal school programs unconstitutional “nonsense.” And has even suggested that the most basic national labor protections may be unconstitutional.
Herman Cain is worse.
In case there is any doubt that Cain shares Perry’s bizarre view that federal health programs like Medicare and Medicaid violate the Constitution, consider a clip from Cain’s radio show that was recorded during the debate over the Affordable Care Act:
CALLER: Um, I want to thank you for keeping everybody informed as to the constitutional problems we’re having right now. And, ah, quick question, can you find anything constitutional in the health care bill?
CAIN: No. No. Nothing at all.
If it were actually true that nothing in the Affordable Care Act survived constitutional scrutiny, then Medicare, Medicaid, and all other programs that provide Americans with health coverage would also be unconstitutional. The backbones of the Affordable Care Act are a Medicaid expansion that provides health care to low-income Americans and new subsidies to help middle class Americans afford insurance. Both of these are constitutional for the same reason that America is also allowed to provide coverage to older Americans and the very poor — the Constitution gives Congress the power to “to lay and collect taxes” and to “provide for the…general welfare of the United States.”
Yet Cain’s vision of the Constitution doesn’t stop at ignoring America’s power to provide Medicare to seniors and affordable coverage to all Americans. At another point on his radio show, Cain made the bizarre claim that all national bankruptcy laws are unconstitutional, even though the Constitution expressly states that Congress may establish “uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States.” Not even Rick Perry has endorsed Cain’s textually indefensible understanding of the Constitution and bankruptcy.
Similarly, Cain touted an unconstitutional plan to effectively lock his regressive “999” tax plan in place permanently, even though the Supreme Court held more than a century ago that newly elected legislators “have the same power of repeal and modification which [past legislators] had of enactment.” Perry has not claimed the unconstitutional power to make laws functionally unrepealable.
When Perry announced his candidacy last August, he immediately became the most radical major party frontrunner since Barry Goldwater. Herman Cain, however, makes Perry look like Barack Obama.