The General Welfare Clause

The “General Welfare” clause
Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution
The 10th Amendment to the Constitution

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
– Preamble to the U.S. Constitution.

This posting covers many areas spanning from the original institution through the beginning of the subversion of the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. This document relies on vetted on-line information, books, and other available materials from institutes of higher education. Credit will be given to the best of the ability of this writer. Spelling will contain the spelling of the time of publication. I can only hope this post can lead to further discussion of the subject matter.

Article 1 [Legislative Branch] Section 8 [Powers of Congress] of the US Constitution defines what the enumerated duties of the Federal Government are while Amendment 10 [ratified December 15, 1791], which is also known as the States’ Rights Amendment, reinforces what is inside and outside the purview of the Federal government. The Constitution was written and ratified to both authorize and limit the powers of the Federal government listing those enumerated duties which, in part, were reaffirmed with the Tenth amendment of the Bill of Rights two years later.

Renderings of the exact enumerated duties are commonplace in the age of the internet; however, this post will look at what the men who wrote the Constitution had to say about the Constitution in general and the “general welfare clause” in particular. James Madison, the father of the Constitution, said, “If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one …” Madison also said, “With respect to the two words “general welfare,” I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.” Reiterating, Thomas Jefferson said, “Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated.”

Reaffirmation comes as part of the Bill of Rights, and in particular, the 10th Amendment which embodies the general principles of Federalism in a republican form of government. The Constitution specifies the parameters of authority that may be exercised by the three branches of the federal government: executive, legislative, and judicial while the Tenth Amendment reserves to the states all powers that are not granted to the federal government by the Constitution, except for those powers that states are constitutionally forbidden from exercising.

With consideration that the Framers were wary of a centralized government, they created a novel system of mixed sovereignty between duties of the national (Federal) government and those of the States. Noted in The Federalist No. 39, the new government was “in strictness, neither a national nor a federal Constitution, but a composition of both.” Critical to this system was the enumerated federal powers, which allows the federal government to operate only within defined areas where the States individually could not. Federalist No. 33 states that a congressional act beyond its enumerated powers is “merely [an] act of usurpation” which “deserves to be treated as such.” Additionally, in Federalist No. 45, Madison explained: “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.”

Governments control people–constitutions control governments

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With a Measure of Disgust…

Oath of Office
“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.” -Oath of office for Congress.

Just words– without one iota of consideration as to what those words mean.

I’m just getting more and more nauseated every time I think of this whole damned bunch of traitors, liars, opportunists, and career criminals.

I’ve lost every iota of optimism and faith in government.

They are no longer public servants, placed in a position of trust.

They–the lot of them– are self-serving, egotistical leeches who are in it for no one but themselves.

The inmates have taken over the asylum.

God have mercy on our nation, and please, drain the swamp, once and for all.

I’m so disgusted.

Liberty and Prosperity

“A government big enough to give you everything you need, is a government big enough to take away everything that you have….”

This quote is often mistakenly attributed to Thomas Jefferson. In fact it was uttered on the floor of Congress by Gerald Ford in an address to a joint session of Congress on August 12, 1974, 3 days after he had assumed the Presidency following Richard Nixon’s resignation.

In the previous thread, Jeremiah posted this marvelous quote from Ronald Reagan:

I hope we have once again reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited.  There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: as government expands, liberty contracts.

The same bit of research that revealed the Gerald Ford quote also revealed that Reagan’s words did, indeed, paraphrase a famous quote from Thomas Jefferson:

“The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground.” – Thomas Jefferson to Edward Carrington, Paris, 27 May 1788

Contrary to the portrait his critics attempt to paint, Reagan was a wise and intelligent man, the closest thing America has seen to a visionary in the mold of the Founders in my lifetime, and anyone who doubts that should read his personal journals. I would add to what he said that prosperity and liberty go hand in hand. Since America is made up of immigrants from numerous other countries, none of which is as prosperous as we are, it can only be that our system of government allows a level of individual freedom that promotes a prosperous economy more than any other country. Now, right before our eyes, we’re seeing one man and a small oligarchy of radical Leftist cronies attempt to “fundamentally transform” that successful model into just another country. As long as we have the freedom to vote, such men will never stay in power long.

There’s a good chance that none of us on this blog has ever suffered under the tyranny of a dictatorship or totalitarian government.  If any have, I’d love for them to come forward and describe what it was like.  In his GOP convention speech, Marco Rubio noted, in reference to the policies of the current administration, “these are tired and old big government ideas. Ideas that people come to America to get away from.  Ideas that threaten to make America more like the rest of the world, instead of helping the world become more like America.”

The freedom that we have and for which we’ve expended great quantities of blood and treasure for others to have around the world is, historically speaking, not the norm.  It’s why the founding of this country has often been described as The Great American Experiment. Not since Rome had a country attempted to embark on a course that would allow ordinary citizens to govern themselves.

Now some are going so far as to suggest that the current occupant of the White House is the one who wants to continue that experiment, to expand liberty to new horizons:

America’s story is one of constantly tackling the big—the biggest—problems, ahead of everyone else, with very little to guide us but those founding principles that nag at our conscience. And each time we’ve made progress, extending civil rights to more and more people, it’s been because that old spirit of taking a gamble, of performing the ultimate experiment, took over and led us to the right decision.

As we think today about what divides Americans, I think it boils down to the fact that some Americans no longer want to experiment. They want to close the lab down. We’ve gone far enough into the unknown, making it known, they say; now let’s stop—let’s even go backward. We were wrong to conduct some of our experiments in liberty, and that’s the source of all our problems. Gay people shouldn’t be treated equally. Black people shouldn’t run the country. Women shouldn’t hold high office. Muslims shouldn’t be granted habeas corpus.

Whenever one of those Americans talks about the problem with our country today, they talk about how we should be like we once were, back when white people who defined marriage as one man-one woman and were Protestant veterans built this nation. They feel they are losing their birthright, their legacy.

But those Americans are wrong. What their ancestors really were was scientists. Experimenters. Radicals who always considered the impossible possible. To define those ancestral Americans as merely white or straight or Christian strips them of their most stunning feature, their near-supernatural qualities of optimism and defiance and willingness to go into the unknown and make it their home, to make the amazing the norm. They defied the status quo. That’s how they built America.

Americans who want to end the experiment are few, but boisterous. They clamor at the national microphone. But Americans who know that there is no America without the experiment will keep at it, and they will persevere. Barack Obama is such an American, and his election is proof that the lab is still open, and that America in general will always be at the drawing board, expanding its concept of liberty and justice and equality until we finally fulfill the founding principles that created this nation so long ago.

I have to confess, when I read this essay, my first reaction was, clearly I and the vast majority of Conservatives have missed something if this is true.  Perhaps we’re wrong, and this writer is correct.  Perhaps one or more of our resident Progressives can make a case for Obama being the great experimenter in expanding liberty.

How “Progressive” is our Tax System?

Professor and chairman of the economics department at Harvard University, Greg Mankiw, took the latest CBO report and ran some numbers for 2009, the most recent year for which we have records.   He wanted to look at not only the amount of taxes someone paid, but also how much money individuals got BACK from the government in the form of refundable tax credits, welfare payments, entitlements and other government goodies.

So here are his calculations for the taxes each income level pays.  What this economist measured here is the amount of taxes the members of these income groups paid TO the government minus the amount of money these people got back in the form of various government payments:

Bottom quintile: -301 percent
Second quintile: -42 percent
Middle quintile: -5 percent
Fourth quintile: 10 percent
Highest quintile: 22 percent
Top one percent: 28 percent

As Mankiw explains the bottom quintile of Americans are essentially receiving $3 in UNEARNED income from the taxpayers for every dollar they earn.  He also points out something rather critical, and this is the fact that the middle quintile of taxpayers is in the negative, which means that they are net tax consumers.  That is almost a 20 point swing since 1979, when middle income earners were tax contributors.

This explains how 50% of Americans pay no income taxes at all … and instead absorb tax money paid by others.

As Ben Franklin has said:

Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.

When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.

These FACTS do not bode well with the proggy LIE, in their class warfare, that the “rich are not paying their fair share”!

obAMATEUR Expands the Dependent Class AGAIN and Bypasses Congress!

Let’s look at this pResident’s accomplishments:

  • Government takeover of 17% of the economy and your health care.
  • Doubling the number of Americans on food stamps.
  • Spanish soap operas to encourage Hispanics to sign up for food stamps.

And now……

Since the beginning Obama intended to reverse the welfare reforms made by the Republican majority when Clinton was president.  Those reforms freed millions of Americans from their government dependency.  This is not the direction in which Obama wants to travel.

The Obama administration via the Department of Health and Human Services has essentially rewritten the rules established by the welfare reform law of 1996.  The new policy, as per the Obama administration, will no longer require welfare recipients to work in order to maintain their benefits.

(For those who cannot connect the dots)FROM THE MEMO:

Waivers will be granted only for provisions related to section 402.

Of the roughly 35 sections of the TANF law, only one is listed as waiveable under section 1115. This is section 402.

Section 402 describes state plans—reports that state governments must file to HHS describing the actions they will undertake to comply with the many requirements established in the other sections of the TANF law. The authority to waive section 402 provides the option to waive state reporting requirements only, not to overturn the core requirements of the TANF program contained in the other sections of the TANF law.

The new Obama dictate asserts that because the work requirements, established in section 407, are mentioned as an item that state governments must report about in section 402, all the work requirements can be waived. This removes the core of the TANF program; TANF becomes a blank slate that HHS bureaucrats and liberal state bureaucrats can rewrite at will – or mealy mouthed words as “innovation”..

Therefore, states and other bureaucracies can DEFINE WORK as they attempted before but were overridden.

Over the years, the definition of “work” began to deteriorate and in 2005, Congress tried to reign in the definition of what constitutes “work” in order to receive welfare.   Barack Obama, a Senator at that time, was opposed to this effort – no surprise there.

Here is a SENATE report as to what states have attempted to define as work:

Some of these include:
1.    Bed rest
2.    Personal care activities
3.    Massage
4.    Exercise
5.    Journaling
6.    Motivational reading
7.    Smoking cessation
8.    Weight loss promotion
9.    Participating in parent teacher meetings
10.  Helping a friend or relative with household tasks and errands

These are what casper tried to pass off as “innovation”. How Sec. of HHS can grant waivers to states that have these activities (or whatever else) in their innovative plans (Section 402).

So, when he says “moving in the right direction”, I guess this is it – EXPANDING the dependent class!

Question is, does this pResident have the authority to do this – reverse law WITHOUT CONGRESS!  I mean this has never stopped him before!!

The Heritage Foundation reminds us of the growing list of Obama administration actions that it has taken to circumvent the legislative process.

  • Even though the Democrat-controlled Senate rejected the President’s cap-and-trade plan, his Environmental Protection Agency classified carbon dioxide, the compound that sustains vegetative life, as a pollutant so that it could regulate it under the Clean Air Act.
  • After the Employee Free Choice Act—designed to bolster labor unions’ dwindling membership rolls—was defeated by Congress, the National Labor Relations Board announced a rule that would implement “snap elections” for union representation, limiting employers’ abilities to make their case to workers and virtually guaranteeing a higher rate of unionization at the expense of workplace democracy.
  • After an Internet regulation proposal failed to make it through Congress, the Federal Communications Commission announced that it would regulate the Web anyway, even despite a federal court’s ruling that it had no authority to do so.
  • Although Congress consistently has barred the Department of Education from getting involved in curriculum matters, the Administration has offered waivers for the No Child Left Behind law in exchange for states adopting national education standards, all without congressional authorization.
  • Since it objects to existing federal immigration laws, the Administration has decided to apply those laws selectively and actively prevent the state (like Arizona) from enforcing those laws themselves.
  • Rather than push Congress to repeal federal laws against marijuana use, the Department of Justice (DOJ) simply decided it would no longer enforce those laws.
  • DOJ also has announced that it would stop enforcing the Defense of Marriage Act or defending it from legal challenge rather than seeking legislative recourse.

These are the actions of a RULER, not a leader. It’s too bad more Americans haven’t focused on the words of Valerie Jarrett – the head of Obama’s transition team – days before his inauguration:  “We will be ready to RULE from day one.”


His Majesty, Barack I

With the completely unconstitutional imposition of the DREAM Act and, now, the absurd claim of Executive Privilege regarding the “Fast and Furious” scandal, a lot of conservatives and libertarians are furious with President Obama over his assumption of rather autocratic powers.  But I ask everyone to pause for a moment – one has to consider just what sort of government the United States has.  To do this, I think it best to refer to an outside observer of proven sympathy for the United States, Winston Churchill:

…The rigid Constitution of the United States, the gigantic scale and strength of its party machinery, the fixed terms for which public officers and representatives are chosen, invest the President with a greater measure of autocratic power that was possessed before the war by the Head of any great State…

Churchill was referring, in that instance, to Woodrow Wilson.  Keep in mind the time frame Churchill was using – this was the day of Nicholas II of Russia, Wilhelm II of Germany and Franz Josef of Austria.  And yet Churchill was asserting that these three men had, in practice, less autocratic power than was held by Woodrow Wilson.  And, he was right.  Churchill correctly perceived a truth about the the United States which to this day escapes nearly everyone:  the President of the United States, while his term lasts, possesses an immense amount of autocratic power.  Boiled down, in our President we have an elected king – limited in real terms only by three things:

1.  His term of office.

2.  His inability to appropriate funds without Congressional approval.

3.  The risk of impeachment.

Lincoln understood this – stating that he would maintain the contest with the South until he died or his term ended.   When in 1864 Lincoln looked to be the loser of the Presidential election he was yet determined to win victory between election day and the end of his term (which in those days ended in March, not January).  And he could have done it – Congress could have cut off funds for additional military power, but the military power he already had was sufficient and no power in the United States government could have prevented him from ordering Grant to continue, election results be darned.

The real lesson in Obama’s abuse of power is this:  always have a great deal of care whom is elected President.  Because you’ve got him for four years and while you can limit the amount of money he spends, you can’t really limit what he does with the money he is allowed to spend.  Jokingly, someone has written a list of 10 things Romney can do after he takes office in the manner of Obama’s DREAM Act – among them, cease enforcement of various environmental laws and of any tax rate above 18%.  It was put out as a joke, but it is also a reality.  Suppose Romney did tell the IRS not to prosecute anyone who failed to pay more than 18% of their income as taxes – what could anyone do?  Impeach him?  Impeachment has only come up three times in American history: with Andrew Johnson it was a GOP witch hunt against a War Democrat; with Nixon it was a Democrat witch hunt against someone they didn’t like; with Clinton we actually had a genuinely impeachable offense but Democrats ensured that it wouldn’t go anywhere.  Impeach Obama?  It would require the votes of 20 Senate Democrats to do it – short of committing rape or murder live, on television, do you think that there is anything Obama can do which would move 20 Senate Democrats to vote to convict?  Get real!

We elect a king every four years and then allow that king one more shot at an additional four years.  In office, he is mostly limited by his own conscience and sense of right and wrong.  A President who simply does not care about the law (or, as in Obama’s case, understand what a law is) is highly dangerous – as we can see with Obama.  For more than two centuries we have been extraordinarily lucky – even with a cad like Clinton or a twisted man like Nixon, there was still a sense of respect for the Constitution and a desire to live up to great predecessors – looming over all was the figure of Washington, who defined what a President is and offered a model for all who came after if they cared at all about the United States.  Trouble is, if we get someone who doesn’t care about the United States – who, in a real sense, has nothing but contempt for Washington and the edifice he raised – then we’re in a bad way.

Now there are some practical steps we can take – from re-asserting Congressional power to declare war, to putting more strings on what is done with appropriated money, to insisting that no US ground troops are deployed outside the United States except during time of declared war.  These and other measures can hem in a President a bit and ensure that he seeks Congressional cooperation before doing something.  But, fundamentally, unless we want to re-write our Constitution in to a parliamentary abomination (ie, where the head of government is the leader of the House of Representatives and the President is a mere figurehead), then we simply have to ensure that when we elect a person to the Presidency that we are sure he or she is fit for the job.  King Obama is the first man we’ve elected who is entirely unfit by temperment, training and education for the Presidency – and it shows in the way he is (deliberately or not is immaterial) wrecking the manner of American government.

So, rather than whine about what Obama has done, let us set to work with a will to oust him on November 6th and then lay the lesson to heart:  never be fooled again.

Natural Born Citizen

This is the second in a series of Constitution-related posts.

Natural-born, Native-born, and Naturalization

Let’s start this discussion with some definitions, dispel some assumptions, and request some civility in the follow-up discussion. This discussion is going to be, as much as possible, restricted to the qualifications for the Office of President of these United States and the portion of U.S. Constitution, Article II, Section 1 which states “No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President”.

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