The tea party mantra: Noun, verb, unconstitutional.Writing for the Center for American Progress, Ian Millhiser looks at the tea party agenda for the Constitution, and it ain't pretty.
While the House of Representatives pushes Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) plan to phase out Medicare, numerous members of Congress, a least one Supreme Court justice, and the governor of America’s second-largest state now proudly declare that most of the progress of the last century violates the Constitution.
It is difficult to count how many essential laws would simply cease to exist if the Tea Party won its battle to reshape our founding document, but a short list includes:
- Social Security and Medicare
- Medicaid, children's health insurance, and other health care programs
- All federal education programs
- All federal antipoverty programs
- Federal disaster relief
- Federal food safety inspections and other food safety programs
- Child labor laws, the minimum wage, overtime, and other labor protections
- Federal civil rights laws
Indeed, as this paper explains, many state lawmakers even embrace a discredited constitutional doctrine that threatens the union itself.
It's a radical agenda, and just a glimpse into why the tea party continues to plummet in polling.
But what's important to recognize when looking at this extremist movement is that it's not really just the tea party we're talking about—it's the Republican party. Sure, not every Republican is going to talk about Social Security and Medicare as unconstitutional programs, but they are just as committed to seeing those programs end as any "crazy" in a tricorn hat.
"Establishment" Republicans can't be let off the hook for their own extremism by applying the label "tea party" to other Republicans, when the only distinction between the two groups is that the tea party faction is willing to say the crazy stuff Republicans believe out loud.