the national interest

Ryan Budget, Constitution Turn Out to Be Same

A tea-party supporter protest outside the US Supreme Court on the third day of oral arguements over the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on March 28, 2012 in Washington, DC. The 26 states challenging the law argue that the Affordable Care Act must be completely repealed if the requirement that all Americans buy health insurance -- known as the
The Founders also enjoyed wearing clown makeup. Photo: MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP

One of the odder mental pathologies that has emerged over the last few years on the American right is the belief that the Republican Party’s current preferred economic program is the sole legitimate claimant to the tradition of the U.S. Constitution. (“Current” is the key word here — the belief system leans heavily on the unstated premise that policies advocated by the party up until three years ago, like the individual mandate, are wildly unconstitutional.)

Washington Free Beacon editor Matthew Continetti has a column in the Weekly Standard that offers an entertaining window into this form of madness. It begins with broad paeans to liberty and the Founding Fathers and so on. Then Continetti embarks on the task of establishing the vital role played by right-wing economic policy. Paragraph seven begins:

The American Revolution was fought not only to achieve independence from the British Empire, but also to realize independence for self-governing citizens.

Paragraph eight edges closer to the point:

Such dependencies threaten to spiral out of control. Budget deficits and public debt are financed by overseas powers whose interests are not our own.

And so, by the following paragraph, the reader is prepared for a full-on litany:

Here is what independence might look like: A responsible budget would tame the debt by addressing the unfunded liabilities in Social Security and Medicare through a combination of increasing the retirement age, tying benefits to longevity and inflation, and introducing premium support. Medicaid would be block-granted. Its maintenance-of-effort regulations would be liberalized.

Of course! Even a cursory familiarity with the views of the Founding Fathers makes it perfectly clear that they wanted a national old-old pension system to cover those over the age of 67, not 65, and that the federal government should provide health insurance to the elderly only, via subsidizing private insurance vouchers rather than direct reimbursement of medical providers, which they would have regarded as utter tyranny.

Ryan Budget, Constitution Turn Out to Be Same