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The General Welfare Clause Discussion/Debate

HikerGuy83

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In a different thread, we wondered off a bit.....

So I brought over a request/question from that thread to start this one:

So explain to me the dichotomy in your thinking.... Providing for the Air Force - even though it isn't listed under the spending functions of Congress - is considered "necessary and proper" in providing for the common dense.... but providing for Medicare - even though it isn't listed under the spending function of Congress - presumably shouldn't be considered "necessary and proper" in providing for the general welfare?
 

TurtleDude

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In a different thread, we wondered off a bit.....

So I brought over a request/question from that thread to start this one:
originally, US air power was under the Army and the navy. it is clearly a function of our military-whatever you call it. Medicare-not at all
 

PirateMk1

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originally, US air power was under the Army and the navy. it is clearly a function of our military-whatever you call it. Medicare-not at all
Technically the only military we should have is a Navy.
 

TurtleDude

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Technically the only military we should have is a Navy.
I don't think so. an armed force is what the constitution grants to the federal government-it might be horse-drawn or on warp drive space ships
 

PirateMk1

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I don't think so. an armed force is what the constitution grants to the federal government-it might be horse-drawn or on warp drive space ships
The Constitution is very specific and further the founders at the time did NOT want a standing army. The Constitution specifies Navy section 8 clause 13 with no limits on appropriations. Armies can be raised but appropriations for them is limited to two years Section 8 clause 12. Section 8 clauses 10-16 deal with military matters in the Constitution. Clause 16 deals with Militias and their organization and use.
 

TurtleDude

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The Constitution is very specific and further the founders at the time did NOT want a standing army. The Constitution specifies Navy section 8 clause 13 with no limits on appropriations. Armies can be raised but appropriations for them is limited to two years Section 8 clause 12. Section 8 clauses 10-16 deal with military matters in the Constitution. Clause 16 deals with Militias and their organization and use.
That is no longer realistic but an amendment should have been in order
 

HikerGuy83

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So explain to me the dichotomy in your thinking.... Providing for the Air Force - even though it isn't listed under the spending functions of Congress - is considered "necessary and proper" in providing for the common dense.... but providing for Medicare - even though it isn't listed under the spending function of Congress - presumably shouldn't be considered "necessary and proper" in providing for the general welfare?

A poster beat me to the punch.....I hate that when it happens.

As stated.....if one were to be picky......the Air Force started out as the Army Air Corps. If it were still part of the Army, there would be no argument (with regards to this specific item).

The "Armed forces" fall under the scope outlined in the constitution. It is not called the armed forces....but it's not much of a stretch.

I certainly wouldn't fight it.

The second part of the question....

I suppose that is where the discussion starts.
 

HikerGuy83

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The Constitution is very specific and further the founders at the time did NOT want a standing army. The Constitution specifies Navy section 8 clause 13 with no limits on appropriations. Armies can be raised but appropriations for them is limited to two years Section 8 clause 12. Section 8 clauses 10-16 deal with military matters in the Constitution. Clause 16 deals with Militias and their organization and use.

Thank you for reminding me.

I am not sure if this was ever debated as armies were formed or kept longer than 2 years.
 

aociswundumho

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That is no longer realistic but an amendment should have been in order

That's how they always get away with it. They just do it and once enough time goes by it becomes constitutional, e.g. the drug war, the alphabet soup agencies, etc.
 

HikerGuy83

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People seem to want to pit Madison against Hamilton on this one.

I am not that familiar with Hamiltons's statements.

In an oft-quoted piece, Madison states in a letter....

I enclose the report of the Secy. of the Treasury on Manufactures. What think you of the commentary (pages 36 & 37) on the terms “general welfare”?1 The federal Govt. has been hitherto limited to the Specified powers, by the greatest Champions for Latitude in expounding those powers. If not only the means, but the objects are unlimited, the parchment had better be thrown into the fire at once.


Apparently, Madison took some exception.

Something I am sure we'll further discuss.
 

ttwtt78640

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That's how they always get away with it. They just do it and once enough time goes by it becomes constitutional, e.g. the drug war, the alphabet soup agencies, etc.

Yep, and if anyone were to complain about constitutionality the SCOTUS would either say that they lacked ‘standing’ or simply refuse to hear the case with no comment at all.
 

Rich2018

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The Constitution is very specific and further the founders at the time did NOT want a standing army. The Constitution specifies Navy section 8 clause 13 with no limits on appropriations. Armies can be raised but appropriations for them is limited to two years Section 8 clause 12. Section 8 clauses 10-16 deal with military matters in the Constitution. Clause 16 deals with Militias and their organization and use.

A further sign that the Constitution is obsolete and needs complete replacement.
 

Rich2018

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An interesting thought.

But we are discussing the General Welfare Clause.

Which, as the name implies, is far too "general" to actually mean anything

At the most liberal interpretation, Congress could argue that every law they pass or will pass, is aimed at improving the general welfare of the people.
 

HikerGuy83

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Which, as the name implies, is far too "general" to actually mean anything

At the most liberal interpretation, Congress could argue that every law they pass or will pass, is aimed at improving the general welfare of the people.

In the context of other writings, the meaning is quite clear.
 

VanceMack

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If you look at what the Constitution demanded, and what both the description of the day and actions of the government in response to the mandate show, then what you will find is that the requirement to tax to provide for the general welfare amounts to government infrastructure...then public roads and waterways...so that the people can live successfully.

"The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States"

WELFARE: Exemption from any unusual evil or calamity; the enjoyment of peace and prosperity, or the ordinary blessings of society and civil government; applied to states.
 

Glitch

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The Constitution is very specific and further the founders at the time did NOT want a standing army.
That is a myth.

At the personal request of President George Washington, Congress reinstated the US Army on September 29, 1789.

The Constitution specifies Navy section 8 clause 13 with no limits on appropriations. Armies can be raised but appropriations for them is limited to two years Section 8 clause 12. Section 8 clauses 10-16 deal with military matters in the Constitution. Clause 16 deals with Militias and their organization and use.
Everything Congress passes is limited by the duration of its Session, which is two years. No prior Session of Congress may bind a future Session of Congress. So even when they claim something is funded for 10 years, it is really only funded for the duration of the current session. It must be funded again by each subsequent session of Congress, any of which may change their minds and either increase funding or kill it completely.

That fact remains that the US Army was reinstated within the first three months after the ratification of the US Constitution. The US Navy and Marine Corps would be reinstated on March 27, 1794 during President Washington's second term.

There was none of this "the founders at the time did NOT want a standing army" utter nonsense.
 

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People seem to want to pit Madison against Hamilton on this one.

I am not that familiar with Hamiltons's statements.

In an oft-quoted piece, Madison states in a letter....

I enclose the report of the Secy. of the Treasury on Manufactures. What think you of the commentary (pages 36 & 37) on the terms “general welfare”?1 The federal Govt. has been hitherto limited to the Specified powers, by the greatest Champions for Latitude in expounding those powers. If not only the means, but the objects are unlimited, the parchment had better be thrown into the fire at once.


Apparently, Madison took some exception.

Something I am sure we'll further discuss.
The only thing you really need to know about Hamilton is that he was always wrong. It didn't matter what it was, Hamilton was on the wrong side of the argument.

When at the Constitutional Convention in June 1787 Hamilton proposed a "constitutional monarchy." Where we would elect our "King." When his proposal was resoundingly rejected Hamilton became a petulant child and left the Constitutional Convention taking the New York delegation with him. He did not return until September 1787, just before the US Constitution was passed by the Constitutional Convention. So Hamilton's only contribution to the US Constitution is his Federalist Papers that explain the document.

We were very lucky that Hamilton was killed by Burr. Had Hamilton lived he would have been a disaster for the US. Even though Hamilton was Jefferson's Secretary of the Treasury, they often did not agree with each other. For example, Hamilton proposed a National Bank based on the General Welfare Clause, which Jefferson considered unconstitutional. This is what Jefferson had to say about the General Welfare Clause:
To lay taxes to provide for the general welfare of the United States, that is to say, "to lay taxes for the purpose of providing for the general welfare." For the laying of taxes is the power, and the general welfare the purpose for which the power is to be exercised. They are not to lay taxes ad libitum for any purpose they please; but only to pay the debts or provide for the welfare of the Union. In like manner, they are not to do anything they please to provide for the general welfare, but only to lay taxes for that purpose. To consider the latter phrase, not as describing the purpose of the first, but as giving a distinct and independent power to do any act they please, which might be for the good of the Union, would render all the preceding and subsequent enumerations of power completely useless.

Thankfully, with regard to the "General Welfare Clause" the Supreme Court has taken Madison's and Jefferson's point of view. When deciding one of FDR's New Deal programs recently enacted by Congress the federal government attempted to use "General Welfare" as a means to obtain unlimited power. This is what the Supreme Court had to say about that in United States v. Butler, 297 U.S. 1 (1936):
If the novel view of the General Welfare Clause now advanced in support of the tax were accepted, that clause would not only enable Congress to supplant the States in the regulation of agriculture and of all other industries as well, but would furnish the means whereby all of the other provisions of the Constitution, sedulously framed to define and limit the power of the United States and preserve the powers of the States, could be broken down, the independence of the individual States obliterated, and the United States converted into a central government exercising uncontrolled police power throughout the Union superseding all local control over local concerns. P. 297 U. S. 75.

The General Welfare, like the Common Defense and the paying of debts, is merely the purpose for which Congress was given the power to "lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises." They are not separate or independent powers unto themselves. The power being granted to Congress under Article I, Section 8, Clause 1 is the power to levy taxes, not to do whatever they please in the name of the "General Welfare."
 

AConcernedCitizen

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In a different thread, we wondered off a bit.....

So I brought over a request/question from that thread to start this one:

Why would Medicare be considered 'General Welfare' rather than 'Common Defense?' Isn't there some evidence by this point that viruses pose a deadly threat to American citizens?
 

HikerGuy83

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Why would Medicare be considered 'General Welfare' rather than 'Common Defense?' Isn't there some evidence by this point that viruses pose a deadly threat to American citizens?

Medicare isn't just designed for pandemics.

While I understand you second question and the implications which require serious consideration.....

The connection to Medicare and it's primary function does not fit.
 

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Why would Medicare be considered 'General Welfare' rather than 'Common Defense?' Isn't there some evidence by this point that viruses pose a deadly threat to American citizens?
MediCare/MedicAid violates the Tenth Amendment. Only the States have the exclusive constitutional authority with regard to our healthcare. The federal government was never given any such power, and is therefore prohibited from exercising any such power.

If the States want to establish a MediCare/MedicAid system, or something like the Affordable Care Act, they have that constitutional authority. The federal government does not have that authority.
 

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An interesting thought.

But we are discussing the General Welfare Clause.

That's easy to understand.

The system of government is all about balance of power through checks and balances.

Balance of power like a see-saw or the scales of justice? No, like an equilateral triangle.

In an equilateral triangle, all angles are 60° (adding up to 180°) and thus each side is equal length.

Who are the three parties that make up this equilateral triangle? The United States, the several States and the people.

Once you understand that, then everything makes sense. The Constitution is consistent with its terminology.

The "people" means the people and "the people" does not mean the several States or the United States. The several States means the States and it does not mean the people or the United States.

The "United States" means solely and exclusively the federal government.

When reading the Constitution -- if it will improve your understanding -- cross out "United States" everywhere you see it and replace it with "federal government."

"The Congress shall have Power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and
provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States."

"The Congress shall have Power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and
provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the federal government."

What is the correct use of the "general Welfare" Clause?

Q: Would it be in the general Welfare of the federal government to have ambassadors to foreign States residing in those foreign States to effectively engage in diplomacy on behalf of the federal government?

A: Yes, even more so as the world became increasingly more complex.

Since the answer is "Yes", Congress has the authority to levy an appropriate tax to raise the monies needed to pay for the housing for its ambassadors.

Q: Would it be in the common defense and general Welfare of the federal government to have naval bases at Subic Bay in the Philippine Islands?

A: Yes (apparently.)

Q: Would it be in the common defense and general Welfare of the federal government to purchase land in the Hawaiian Islands and construct a naval base at Pearl Harbor?

A: Yes (also apparently.)

In both instances, Congress has the authority to raise the appropriate taxes to fund those ventures.

The "general Welfare" Clause only applies to the federal government and it does not apply to the several States or the people.
 
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