Republicans vs. the Constitution: Romney and GingrichJanuary 1, 2012
Iowa caucus-goers will bless one Republican from a crowded field this Wednesday with the momentum and support a win is worth - selecting their choice for the Republican nomination for President and an opponent for President Barack Obama in 2012. The task is daunting -- especially for libertarian-leaning and constitutionalist Republicans looking for a candidate who aligns with them. The field is flawed - obvious by just how volatile and non-committal support for the candidates there has remained over the last many months - and the naggingly steady undecided vote that hasn't budged.
Just how flawed are these candidates? Let's examine them from a constitutional perspective, starting with Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.
- Mitt Romney: Since his single term as Governor of Massachusetts, Romney has focused substantial time and resources building his political connections and preparing for a run for the presidency. He ran first for the 2008 cycle, eventually losing the Republican nomination to Senator John McCain. Romney has held in the upper tier of candidates and is considered by many the front-runner for the nomination for the 2012 cycle.
Romney's work in the public sector -- namely as Governor of Massachusetts -- largely shields him from constitutional scrutiny -- even as he signed the nation's first health insurance individual mandate into law in 2006. The mandate, now a sore spot for Republicans as part of President Obama's health care initiative, is not unconstitutional precisely because it was implemented at the state level.
But Romney has claimed positions publicly that are at odds with the Constitution. He wants to restructure Medicaid as block grants that would flow to states from the federal government - retaining redistributive powers at the federal level that don't exist in the Constitution. He discusses cutting the federal government payroll by 10% through attrition - which doesn't yield any significant cutting or address the elimination of agencies such as the EPA, the Department of Education, or the Department of Energy that lack any constitutional basis. He seeks a more effective, business-friendlier National Labor Relations Board but ignores the plain fact that neither the NLRB, nor any of its functions, appear in the Constitution at all, let alone as powers of the federal government.
- Newt Gingrich : Gingrich's record in the public sector traces back to the House of Representatives, where he spent 20 years until 1998, serving as Speaker in his final four years. He led the Republican takeover of the House in 1994 by nationalizing the races through his "Contract With America", a collection of pledges he promised a Republican House would debate and vote on. His years as Speaker were turbulent, however, as his battles against President Clinton were public and often bruising; he was also the target of ethics investigations and found to be in violation of House rules. Later it was learned that Gingrich carried on an extramarital affair during the Clinton impeachment investigation and proceedings.
Gingrich has taken numerous positions at odds with the Constitution. The House, under his leadership, passed a line-item veto power for the President, which the Supreme Court later correctly overturned as unconstitutional. He led passage of welfare reform and limitation legislation during his speakership as well, but he kept welfare in place as a federally administered program, retaining redistributive power not given the federal government in the Constitution. Gingrich also supported federal adoption legislation and changes to (but not elimination of) Social Security.
Gingrich has consistently named Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a president known for being at odds with the Constitution, as the best President of the last century, and he's named Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, founders of the progressive movement, as former Presidents after whom he's modeled his own approach.
Read more about it:
The Constitution and the New Deal
Income Redistribution & the Realignment of American Politics (AEI Studies on Understanding Economic Inequality)
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