GOP Platform Declares Medicaid Unconstitutional

Written by Ian Millhiser

Almost immediately after President Obama took office, many Republican politicians seized upon a distorted vision of the Constitution’s Tenth Amendment that would leave America nearly incapable of governing itself. Indeed, top Republicans — including U.S. Senators, governors and members of Congress — have claimed that everything from Social Security to Medicare to federal disaster relief to national child labor laws all violate the Constitution. A similarly erroneous vision of the Constitution has now infected the GOP’s party platform:

We support the review and examination of all federal agencies to eliminate wasteful spending, operational inefficiencies, or abuse of power to determine whether they are performing functions that are better performed by the States. These functions, as appropriate, should be returned to the States in accordance with the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. We affirm that all legislation, rules, and regulations must conform and public servants must adhere to the U.S. Constitution, as originally intended by the Framers. . . . Scores of entrenched federal programs violate the constitutional mandates of federalism by taking money from the States, laundering it through various federal agencies, only to return to the States shrunken grants with mandates attached. We propose wherever feasible to leave resources where they originate: in the homes and neighborhoods of the taxpayers.

The GOP platform closely echoes a brief filed by GOP mega attorney Paul Clement on behalf of several Republican elected officials challenging the Affordable Care Act in the Supreme Court. According to Clement, because federal revenues are “composed of tax dollars collected from the States’ own residents,” it somehow follows that state governments have a claim on federal revenue. The GOP platform suggests that this claim is so strong that any federal program which grants money to the states is unconstitutional if it also requires the states to comply with certain rules in order to receive that money.

There are many federal programs which fit this description, but the biggest one is Medicaid. Medicaid offers funding to the states to provide health services to the poor. States are free to take this money or to leave it, but they must agree to follow certain rules before they can take the money. In other words, Medicaid is exactly the same kind of grant “with mandates attached” that the GOP finds constitutionally objectionable.

Medicaid also covers more than 62 million Americans, all of whom would lose their health coverage if the GOP’s apparent vision of the Constitution were to prevail.

This post was originally published by ThinkProgress.


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Mitchell D.
Mitchell D5 years ago

Wendy, you are on point!
What the conservatives (Christian or not) and Republicans are interested in is nothing other than reaffirming their wealth and their distance from those who do not feed at the trough of greed. As the line went, in the movie "Key Largo," they want what Rocco wanted: "More!"

Wendy Schroeder
Wendy S5 years ago

Jesus helped the sick. The Republicans would rather see them die. Yet so many conservative "Christians" are Republicans. They do not follow Jesus, they worship the almighty dollar.

Wayne W.
Wayne W5 years ago

The Tenth Amendment is the vestigial remains of the Articles of Confederation. The Articles, America's first form of government, were quickly abandoned when it became apparent that the Federal government had too little power and did not have sufficient power to tax. The GOP now believes that a form of government that was inadequate for an 18th Century agrarian society is the right government for a 21st Century superpower. The GOP wants the dissolution of the United States into a federation of 50 individual states like the Russian Federation or the EU or, shall we say, the Con-federate States of America, each ruled by a handful of billionaires.

Many Libertarians, some on this forum, have pointed out that when the Constitution was adopted, only white male landowners were allowed to vote.Some also claim that women voting is unconstitutional, Since women's voting rights were ratified by Constitutional Amendment, we now know the Constitution is unconstitutional unless prior approval is granted by Grover Norquist, David Koch or Dick Armey ( a useful description of the Tea Party he orchestrates), none of whom is now an elected official. If that's what you want, then you have no choice but to vote Republican..

Don H.
Don H5 years ago

Sarah H, you are so poorly informed. Please stop watching Fox "News". Fox intentionally misleads their viewers.

A central element in the Ryan budget is to make Medicare into a voucher program. Seniors will be responsible for buying their own insurance on the open market. This will cost seniors several thousand dollars of addition medical costs per year. I understand Ryan "claims" this change will be voluntary. Unfortunately Ryan only recently decided this would be "voluntary". Can we really trust him to keep his word when he demonstrates such strong loyalty to the insurance industry?

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill5 years ago

Karen H - I am getting to the age of social security also so I understand your concern but these are NOT entitlements. We have paid with every pay check for these benefits! Romney and Ryan have no plans to harm ss or medicare, but they are both going bankrupt do to congress routinely steeling from these funds. My husband lost his job in Jan and has not been able to find another so we don't have any insurance luckily he is retired from the Dept. of Corrections so we do have the pension coming in. But it doesn't leave money for the extras. But government wastes SO much money! When McDonnell audited here in Va. they found MILLIONS of dollars just sitting there and no one knew it was there. With responsible leadership we can turn this horrible situation around and put our country back into the black instead of red.

Karen Howard
Karen H5 years ago

Sarah H, you said, "They were just saying they want to examine departments of the federal government to find waste and ways to do things more efficiently." But who's policing them to make sure they don't take away the very services that keep many of us living from day to day? I have no income but Social Security. Will R&R put me up in their spare room after they take away my Social Security? I have no insurance but Medicare. Will they take care of my healthcare?
I did have savings, but thanks to GWB (long story), it's gone. Wish I had some spare stocks to support myself.

Doreen Mann
Doreen Mann5 years ago

THey want to take away every thing that is for the people who need help every month. They would rather help those who are rich instead. This is disgraceful I hope people who listen to this stuff really sit back and question what they are saying. It is wrong. We can't afford to let the GOP win this election. Our country deserves better. If congress did their job and put the job's bill out to committee and vote millions of people would be working and helping the economy and this would create tax money for the government to help pay for these programs.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill5 years ago

I read the quote the writer cited, there is nothing in it to even suggest they were talking about Medicaid. They were just saying they want to examine departments of the federal government to find waste and ways to do things more efficiently. McDonnell did that in VA when he became governor and they found millions of dollars just sitting in accounts that no one knew was there. I think that every president and governor should do an audit when they begin their term. That would eliminate that from happening.

Past Member
Terry H5 years ago

What a pile of crock these GOP folk have on their plate. They are attacking MEDICAID now and if they get into office, I shudder to think what will occur. They must be out of their ever-loving gourds...

Sandi C.
Sandi C5 years ago

Mitt the boy wonder!