As ThinkProgress previously reported, U.S. Senate candidate Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin (R-MO) believes the federal government should “end its support for school lunch programs,” and his votes reflect his hostility towards the idea that the richest country in the world should ensure that its children have adequate nutrition. Akin was one of just five members of Congress to oppose the bipartisan Child Nutrition Improvement and Integrity Act, which streamlined the process for children to qualify for free or reduced priced school lunches and expanded a program providing local produce to schools.
An Akin spokesperson explained to the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent why Akin believes that it is wrong for the United States to feed needy children, and his explanation is a doozy:
Steve Taylor, a spokesman for Congressman Akin, confirmed the above votes and said they reflect Akin’s beliefs.
“As a principled conservative, he has always stood for limited government and for supporting authorizations that fall within the framework of our United States Constitution,” Taylor said. “Those are principles that guide him.”
So Akin believes that school lunch programs are unconstitutional, which probably isn’t all that surprising, since he has also believes that Medicare — and likely all federal health programs — violate the Constitution. He is, of course, wrong. The Constitution gives the United States authority to “to lay and collect taxes” and to “provide for the . . . general welfare of the United States.” So Akin’s reading of the Constitution essentially boils down to a claim that guaranteeing that every American will have adequate nutrition when they are in school and health care when they retire somehow does not serve the nation’s general welfare.
Nevertheless, Akin’s creative understanding of our founding document is increasingly common among Tea Party lawmakers. Indeed, as a Center for American Progress report explains, Tea Party governors, senators and other members of Congress have claimed that Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, children’s health insurance, all federal education programs, all federal antipoverty programs, federal disaster relief, federal food safety inspections and other food safety programs, national child labor laws, the minimum wage, overtime, and other labor protections and federal civil rights laws all violate the Constitution.