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Is Utah About To Elect Another Senator Who Thinks Medicare Is Unconstitutional?

Last year, Sen. Mike “A Noun, A Verb, and Unconstitutional” Lee (R-UT) upset longtime Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT) in the Utah GOP’s arcane candidate selection process — allowing the Tea Party to elevate someone to the Senate who believes that everything from Medicare to Social Security to child labor laws somehow violate the Constitution. Since then, Utah’s senior Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) has tripped over himselfto pretend that he is just as radical as young Sen. Lee.

Alas, all of Hatch’s extremist posturing may be for naught, as the Tea Party has found someone who shares their apparent policy goal of ensuring that people who can’t afford health care are left to fend for themselves:

During a recent media blitz in Washington, D.C., Dan Liljenquist, a state senator from Utah, went after Sen. Orrin Hatch, arguing he has done more than any other Republican to promote nationalized health care. […] The skirmish is the first between these potential 2012 opponents. Liljenquist, a Republican, says he won’t make an official decision until early next year, but he has prepared for a possible run for Hatch’s seat. […]

[Liljenquist] argued that Hatch is not committed to returning power to the states, focusing on the State Children’s Health Insurance Program that Hatch spearheaded in 1997. That program, which pays for health coverage for poor children, has come under fire from tea party Republicans who see it as a step toward a national takeover of health insurance. Liljenquist went as far as to call it “unconstitutional.”

Liljenquist’s suggestion that the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) is unconstitutional is absurd. SCHIP works by providing funds to states to help them pay for health insurance for children. Because the Constitution allows the federal government “to lay and collect taxes” and to use those revenues to “provide for the…general welfare of the United States,” there is simply no doubt that it can spend money on providing health care to vulnerable young people.

Moreover, other essential health care programs — such as Medicare and Medicaid — stand on similar constitutional footing as SCHIP. So if Liljenquist thinks one of these programs is unconstitutional, it is likely that he believes that we must eliminate all three.

In other words, if Liljenquist succeeds in taking Hatch’s Senate seat, Utah could become the only state in the union to have its entire Senate delegation believe that the Constitution requires millions of children, low-income Americans and seniors to be cast out into the cold with no meaningful access to health care.

By: Ian Millhiser, Think Progress, November 28, 2011

November 29, 2011 - Posted by | Health Care | , , , , , ,

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