Platform Item 24: Entitlements

Entitlements:   What is their constitutional authority?  We shall review this and where it is determined they have none we shall make every effort to wean ourselves from the programs.  We shall work to pass the responsibility for these programs to the states, private businesses or private charities in their entirety.  We will not turn our backs on the people who are dependent upon these programs.   This process will require multiple generations but the burden for the federal taxpayer will eventually be eliminated and replaced by independence of the federal government from welfare and personal savings and insurance programs. 

Social Security – No Constitutional Authority – Transfer obligations to the states and investment companies and eliminate federal debt in 30 years

Welfare – No Constitutional Authority – Transfer obligations to the states and charities and eliminate federal debt in 15 years

Medicare – No Constitutional Authority – Transfer obligations to the states and private insurers and eliminate federal debt in 20 years

Medicaid – No Constitutional Authority – Transfer obligations to the states and private insurers and eliminate federal debt in 20 years

Healthcare – No Constitutional Authority – Repeal Immediately before a dependency ensues

Argument

The statement was often made that the American citizens were irrational to oppose healthcare because we like Social Security and Medicare.  I don’t believe this is true.  I believe what should be stated is that citizens have become dependent on these entitlements, not that we particularly like them.  But, regardless of whether certain citizens or even a majority of citizens like a program or not it must be consistent with the Constitution or one of two separate actions must be taken, either eliminate the unconstitutional program or modify the Constitution by amendment.   I prefer the former over the latter. 

It should be no secret that had the FICA contributions made by employee and employer been made to the employee instead of the government, the additional income could have been invested in private investment programs and those investments would have built a much larger nest egg than what is otherwise promised by the federal government.  Those funds would also have protected the heirs of any worker who died prematurely and there would have been no questions regarding the ownership of retirement funds at the time of divorce or death of a spouse. 

It is understood that such an arrangement could also have resulted in additional consumption and little investment by some individuals but it should never be within the province of the federal government to ensure that people make good decisions.   If any level of government is to require people to create a retirement fund it should be the state government, not the federal government.   Either may extol benefits to encourage savings by deferring the taxes on the annual income earned by the portfolio but this should be the extent of federal involvement in these programs.  State governments are able to amend their Constitutions more easily and may thus be able to force retirement contributions from the employee and the employer.  All welfare should be determined and administered by state and local levels of government and private charities within the communities where the needs of their citizens are best known.  

An analysis is presented below that relates the Constitution to four major entitlement programs that passed the Congress in the last century.  Each section within Article I of the Constitution was examined to determine the Constitutional Authority of the Congress to have enacted these programs.  None was found.  The same logic was applied to the Healthcare Entitlement Bill that was just signed into law by the president in March 2010.   Nothing could be found that would authorize the Congress to appropriate federal funds for healthcare either. 

A similar analysis needs to be conducted for every federal program and every department as well as for every new piece of legislation to ensure the authority exists within the Constitution for the Congress to appropriate taxpayer funds.   This shall be the subject of a different Tea Party Platform.   

 

 

 

Constitutional Authority?

 

Summary

Social Security

Welfare

Medicare Medicaid

Health-care

Section 1

Defines a bicameral Congress

No

No

No

No

Section 2

Defines how members will be chosen and how membership shall be constituted in the House of Representatives as amended by the following:

Amendment XIV

Section 1

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Section 2

Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the executive and judicial officers of a state, or the members of the legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such state, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such state.

Section 3

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 4

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any state shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5

The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Amendment XIX

The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Amendment XXVI

Section 1

The right of citizens of the United States, who are 18 years of age or older, to vote, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of age.

Section 2

The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

No

No

No

No

 

Sole power to impeach

No

No

No

No

Section 3

Defines how members will be chosen and how membership shall be constituted in the Senate as amended by the following:

Amendment XVII

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislatures.

When vacancies happen in the representation of any state in the Senate, the executive authority of such state shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, that the legislature of any state may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.

This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.

No

No

No

No

 

Power to try impeachments

No

No

No

No

 

Defines VP as President of the Senate

No

No

No

No

Section 4

Defines the manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives and when the Congress shall meet as amended by the 20th Amendment. 

 

No

No

No

No

Section 5

Each house shall be the judge of their own elections and defines a quorum

No

No

No

No

 

Power to define its own rules

No

No

No

No

 

Demand to maintain a journal of its proceedings, punish members for misbehavior and rules to expel a member

No

No

No

No

 

Requires that a vote be published if requested by a 1/5 vote of members

No

No

No

No

 

Rules for adjournment

No

No

No

No

Section 6

Directs that a compensation be paid for services

No

No

No

No

 

Defines rules of privilege and speech

No

No

No

No

 

Forbids conflict of interest in appointments to civil office during the period in which they have been elected.

No

No

No

No

Section 7

Prescribes the House as where revenue bills must originate

No

No

No

No

 

Rules for passing legislation, president’s signature/veto and rules to override vetoes.

No

No

No

No

Section 8

Power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare

Requires uniformity in all taxation throughout the US

No1

No1

No1

No1

 

Power to borrow money on credit

No

No

No

No

 

Power to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the several states and Indian tribes

No2

No2

No2

No2

 

Power to establish a uniform rule of naturalization and bankruptcies

No

No

No

No

 

Power to coin money and regulate the value thereof and fix the standard weights and measures

No

No

No

No

 

Provide punishment for counterfeiting of currencies and coin

No

No

No

No

 

Power to establish a post office and post roads

No

No

No

No

 

Power to promote the progress of science and useful arts by securing for limited times to authors an inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries (patent and copyright laws)

No

No

No

No

 

Constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court

No

No

No

No

 

Power to define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas and offenses against the law of nations

No

No

No

No

 

Power to declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal (power to cross international border for purposes of reprisal) and make rules concerning captures on land and water

No

No

No

No

 

Power to raise and support armies but limits appropriation for that purpose to two years

No

No

No

No

 

Power to maintain a navy

No

No

No

No

 

Make rules for government and regulation of land and naval forces

No

No

No

No

 

Provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions

No

No

No

No

 

Provide for organizing, arming and disciplining the militia and for governing that part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States reserving to the states the appointment of officers and authority of training according to the rules of Congress

No

No

No

No

 

Exercise exclusive legislation over the District of Columbia, purchase land to construct forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards and other needful buildings  and exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the states

No

No

No

No

 

To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.  

No

No

No

No

Section 9

Prevents the Congress from prohibiting the migration or import of slaves prior to 1808

No

No

No

No

 

Rules for habeas corpus

No

No

No

No

 

Requires that no person shall be punished without trial and that no law may be retroactively enacted to punish someone for an act committed prior to the illegality being established

 

 

 

 

 

No head tax or other direct tax shall be laid unless in proportion to the census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken. 

Amendment XVI

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

No

No

No

No

 

No tax or duty shall be laid on interstate commerce

No

No

No

No

 

No preference shall be given by any regulation of commerce or revenue to the ports of one state over those of another nor shall duties be imposed on vessels moving between states

No

No

No

No

 

No money may be drawn from the treasury except by appropriation made by law and a regular statement and account of receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from time to time

No

No

No

No

 

Forbids titles of nobility and forbids office holders to accept gifts, money or titles from a foreign nation without the consent of Congress

No

No

No

No

Section 10

Prevents states from entering any treaties, alliances or confederations, grant armies the right to cross international boundaries for reprisal, coin money, emit bills of credit, make anything but gold or silver coin a tender, pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts or grant any title of nobility

No

No

No

No

 

Requires the consent of the Congress to lay any tax or duty on imports or exports other than what might be required to finance inspections and the proceeds from any duties and imposts shall be for use of the federal government, not the state

No

No

No

No

 

Requires consent of the Congress to lay a duty on tonnage, keep troops, or ships of war in time of peace, enter into any agreement with another state, foreign power or engage in war unless actually invaded or in such imminent danger as will not allow a delay

No

No

No

No

 

1)      Legislators often attempt to hang their hats on Section 8 and its reference to the general welfare as providing Congress the authority to adopt entitlement programs however, James Madison, one of the three principle authors of our Constitution and the author of Federalist Paper 41 specifically identifies the intent of general welfare as pertaining only to those powers enumerated within the Constitution.  No broader interpretation should be made.  Following this article is a reprint of Federalist 41 as written by James Madison with highlighted arguments from Madison himself that the clause for providing for the “common defense and general welfare” was not intended to provide broader powers beyond those limited powers specifically enumerated in the Constitution.      

2)      Congressmen and Senators often attempt to regulate behavior within a state by citing the commerce clause.  Essentially they argue that individuals involved in commerce that is limited to their own state continue to have an influence on other states because the marketplace cannot be regarded as having political boundaries.  The sale of something grown/manufactured and sold in the same state avoids the need to import it from another state and when consumed within the state where it was produced limits the supply available to other states.  This would have no bearing on an entitlement program unless one was to argue that Healthcare insurance controls the practice of medicine.   But, in this regard there is nothing in our Constitution that would authorize the federal government neither to mandate that any citizen buy anything nor to provide fines to penalize those who do not.

The argument must be made that the US Federal Government has an obligation to those persons who have been provided promises or who have had money taken from them in the form of taxation with the promise that an annuity shall be provided for them in their retirement years.   At the same time, to be true to the premise of this platform, there must also be Constitutional Authority to honor these obligations.   I believe there is such authority for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in that Congress has the power to borrow and borrow it has done from the Social Security Trust that prevents the Congress from a simple and immediate restitution for taxes already collected.   Similarly I believe an argument can be made that liabilities also exist for Medicare and Medicaid as these programs are also a result of taxation in the form of a Payroll Tax that has been deducted from workers salaries with the promise of future medical care.  

The federal government has no power to demand that any state provide a welfare program to its residents and no Constitutional power to tax the citizen to pay for state programs other than those already granted within the Constitution.  To this end the power of taxation for these programs must be passed to willing states only upon assurances by the state legislatures of the state that a reduction in federal taxes will match an increase in state taxes and allow the states to administer these programs directly at the community level.   It would then be up to the state to determine who might qualify, how, when and the amounts of payments that should be made.   

Legislative Authorities

Article I of the US Constitution is presented below as obtained from the web site of Cornell University Law School with links to those changes that have been made through the amendment process. 

Article I

Section 1

All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Section 2

The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several states, and the electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislature.

No person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty five years, and been seven years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that state in which he shall be chosen.

Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten years, in such manner as they shall by law direct. The number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand, but each state shall have at least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the state of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.

When vacancies happen in the Representation from any state, the executive authority thereof shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies.

The House of Representatives shall choose their speaker and other officers; and shall have the sole power of impeachment.

Section 3

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state, chosen by the legislature thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote.

Immediately after they shall be assembled in consequence of the first election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three classes. The seats of the Senators of the first class shall be vacated at the expiration of the second year, of the second class at the expiration of the fourth year, and the third class at the expiration of the sixth year, so that one third may be chosen every second year; and if vacancies happen by resignation, or otherwise, during the recess of the legislature of any state, the executive thereof may make temporary appointments until the next meeting of the legislature, which shall then fill such vacancies.

No person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the age of thirty years, and been nine years a citizen of the United States and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that state for which he shall be chosen.

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided.

The Senate shall choose their other officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the office of President of the United States.

The Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments. When sitting for that purpose, they shall be on oath or affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no person shall be convicted without the concurrence of two thirds of the members present.

Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States: but the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to indictment, trial, judgment and punishment, according to law.

Section 4

The times, places and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations, except as to the places of choosing Senators.

The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.

Section 5

Each House shall be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members, and a majority of each shall constitute a quorum to do business; but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the attendance of absent members, in such manner, and under such penalties as each House may provide.

Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two thirds, expel a member.

Each House shall keep a journal of its proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such parts as may in their judgment require secrecy; and the yeas and nays of the members of either House on any question shall, at the desire of one fifth of those present, be entered on the journal.

Neither House, during the session of Congress, shall, without the consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.

Section 6

The Senators and Representatives shall receive a compensation for their services, to be ascertained by law, and paid out of the treasury of the United States. They shall in all cases, except treason, felony and breach of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance at the session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any speech or debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other place.

No Senator or Representative shall, during the time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil office under the authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time: and no person holding any office under the United States, shall be a member of either House during his continuance in office.

Section 7

All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills.

Every bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a law, be presented to the President of the United States; if he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the objections at large on their journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent, together with the objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a law. But in all such cases the votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and nays, and the names of the persons voting for and against the bill shall be entered on the journal of each House respectively. If any bill shall not be returned by the President within ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the same shall be a law, in like manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their adjournment prevent its return, in which case it shall not be a law.

Every order, resolution, or vote to which the concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the same shall take effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the rules and limitations prescribed in the case of a bill.

Section 8

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;

To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures;

To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States;

To establish post offices and post roads;

To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;

To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court;

To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations;

To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;

To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;

To provide and maintain a navy;

To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;

To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the state in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings;--And

To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.

Section 9

The migration or importation of such persons as any of the states now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person.

The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.

No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

No capitation, or other direct, tax shall be laid, unless in proportion to the census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.

No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any state.

No preference shall be given by any regulation of commerce or revenue to the ports of one state over those of another: nor shall vessels bound to, or from, one state, be obliged to enter, clear or pay duties in another.

No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law; and a regular statement and account of receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from time to time.

No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.

Section 10

No state shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation; grant letters of marque and reprisal; coin money; emit bills of credit; make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts; pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts, or grant any title of nobility.

No state shall, without the consent of the Congress, lay any imposts or duties on imports or exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it's inspection laws: and the net produce of all duties and imposts, laid by any state on imports or exports, shall be for the use of the treasury of the United States; and all such laws shall be subject to the revision and control of the Congress.

No state shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any duty of tonnage, keep troops, or ships of war in time of peace, enter into any agreement or compact with another state, or with a foreign power, or engage in war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay.

 

The Federalist No. 41

General View of the Powers Conferred by The Constitution

Independent Journal
Saturday, January 19, 1788
[James Madison]

To the People of the State of New York:

THE Constitution proposed by the convention may be considered under two general points of view. The FIRST relates to the sum or quantity of power which it vests in the government, including the restraints imposed on the States. The SECOND, to the particular structure of the government, and the distribution of this power among its several branches.

Under the first view of the subject, two important questions arise: 1. Whether any part of the powers transferred to the general government be unnecessary or improper? 2. Whether the entire mass of them be dangerous to the portion of jurisdiction left in the several States?

Is the aggregate power of the general government greater than ought to have been vested in it? This is the first question.

It cannot have escaped those who have attended with candor to the arguments employed against the extensive powers of the government, that the authors of them have very little considered how far these powers were necessary means of attaining a necessary end. They have chosen rather to dwell on the inconveniences which must be unavoidably blended with all political advantages; and on the possible abuses which must be incident to every power or trust, of which a beneficial use can be made. This method of handling the subject cannot impose on the good sense of the people of America. It may display the subtlety of the writer; it may open a boundless field for rhetoric and declamation; it may inflame the passions of the unthinking, and may confirm the prejudices of the misthinking: but cool and candid people will at once reflect, that the purest of human blessings must have a portion of alloy in them; that the choice must always be made, if not of the lesser evil, at least of the GREATER, not the PERFECT, good; and that in every political institution, a power to advance the public happiness involves a discretion which may be misapplied and abused. They will see, therefore, that in all cases where power is to be conferred, the point first to be decided is, whether such a power be necessary to the public good; as the next will be, in case of an affirmative decision, to guard as effectually as possible against a perversion of the power to the public detriment.

That we may form a correct judgment on this subject, it will be proper to review the several powers conferred on the government of the Union; and that this may be the more conveniently done they may be reduced into different classes as they relate to the following different objects: 1. Security against foreign danger; 2. Regulation of the intercourse with foreign nations; 3. Maintenance of harmony and proper intercourse among the States; 4. Certain miscellaneous objects of general utility; 5. Restraint of the States from certain injurious acts; 6. Provisions for giving due efficacy to all these powers.

The powers falling within the first class are those of declaring war and granting letters of marque; of providing armies and fleets; of regulating and calling forth the militia; of levying and borrowing money.

Security against foreign danger is one of the primitive objects of civil society. It is an avowed and essential object of the American Union. The powers requisite for attaining it must be effectually confided to the federal councils.

Is the power of declaring war necessary? No man will answer this question in the negative. It would be superfluous, therefore, to enter into a proof of the affirmative. The existing Confederation establishes this power in the most ample form.

Is the power of raising armies and equipping fleets necessary? This is involved in the foregoing power. It is involved in the power of self-defense.

But was it necessary to give an INDEFINITE POWER of raising TROOPS, as well as providing fleets; and of maintaining both in PEACE, as well as in WAR?

The answer to these questions has been too far anticipated in another place to admit an extensive discussion of them in this place. The answer indeed seems to be so obvious and conclusive as scarcely to justify such a discussion in any place. With what color of propriety could the force necessary for defense be limited by those who cannot limit the force of offense? If a federal Constitution could chain the ambition or set bounds to the exertions of all other nations, then indeed might it prudently chain the discretion of its own government, and set bounds to the exertions for its own safety.

How could a readiness for war in time of peace be safely prohibited, unless we could prohibit, in like manner, the preparations and establishments of every hostile nation? The means of security can only be regulated by the means and the danger of attack. They will, in fact, be ever determined by these rules, and by no others. It is in vain to oppose constitutional barriers to the impulse of self-preservation. It is worse than in vain; because it plants in the Constitution itself necessary usurpations of power, every precedent of which is a germ of unnecessary and multiplied repetitions. If one nation maintains constantly a disciplined army, ready for the service of ambition or revenge, it obliges the most pacific nations who may be within the reach of its enterprises to take corresponding precautions. The fifteenth century was the unhappy epoch of military establishments in the time of peace. They were introduced by Charles VII. of France. All Europe has followed, or been forced into, the example. Had the example not been followed by other nations, all Europe must long ago have worn the chains of a universal monarch. Were every nation except France now to disband its peace establishments, the same event might follow. The veteran legions of Rome were an overmatch for the undisciplined valor of all other nations and rendered her the mistress of the world.

Not the less true is it, that the liberties of Rome proved the final victim to her military triumphs; and that the liberties of Europe, as far as they ever existed, have, with few exceptions, been the price of her military establishments. A standing force, therefore, is a dangerous, at the same time that it may be a necessary, provision. On the smallest scale it has its inconveniences. On an extensive scale its consequences may be fatal. On any scale it is an object of laudable circumspection and precaution. A wise nation will combine all these considerations; and, whilst it does not rashly preclude itself from any resource which may become essential to its safety, will exert all its prudence in diminishing both the necessity and the danger of resorting to one which may be inauspicious to its liberties.

The clearest marks of this prudence are stamped on the proposed Constitution. The Union itself, which it cements and secures, destroys every pretext for a military establishment which could be dangerous. America united, with a handful of troops, or without a single soldier, exhibits a more forbidding posture to foreign ambition than America disunited, with a hundred thousand veterans ready for combat. It was remarked, on a former occasion, that the want of this pretext had saved the liberties of one nation in Europe. Being rendered by her insular situation and her maritime resources impregnable to the armies of her neighbors, the rulers of Great Britain have never been able, by real or artificial dangers, to cheat the public into an extensive peace establishment. The distance of the United States from the powerful nations of the world gives them the same happy security. A dangerous establishment can never be necessary or plausible, so long as they continue a united people. But let it never, for a moment, be forgotten that they are indebted for this advantage to the Union alone. The moment of its dissolution will be the date of a new order of things. The fears of the weaker, or the ambition of the stronger States, or Confederacies, will set the same example in the New, as Charles VII. did in the Old World. The example will be followed here from the same motives which produced universal imitation there. Instead of deriving from our situation the precious advantage which Great Britain has derived from hers, the face of America will be but a copy of that of the continent of Europe. It will present liberty everywhere crushed between standing armies and perpetual taxes. The fortunes of disunited America will be even more disastrous than those of Europe. The sources of evil in the latter are confined to her own limits. No superior powers of another quarter of the globe intrigue among her rival nations, inflame their mutual animosities, and render them the instruments of foreign ambition, jealousy, and revenge. In America the miseries springing from her internal jealousies, contentions, and wars, would form a part only of her lot. A plentiful addition of evils would have their source in that relation in which Europe stands to this quarter of the earth, and which no other quarter of the earth bears to Europe.

This picture of the consequences of disunion cannot be too highly colored, or too often exhibited. Every man who loves peace, every man who loves his country, every man who loves liberty, ought to have it ever before his eyes, that he may cherish in his heart a due attachment to the Union of America, and be able to set a due value on the means of preserving it.

Next to the effectual establishment of the Union, the best possible precaution against danger from standing armies is a limitation of the term for which revenue may be appropriated to their support. This precaution the Constitution has prudently added. I will not repeat here the observations which I flatter myself have placed this subject in a just and satisfactory light. But it may not be improper to take notice of an argument against this part of the Constitution, which has been drawn from the policy and practice of Great Britain. It is said that the continuance of an army in that kingdom requires an annual vote of the legislature; whereas the American Constitution has lengthened this critical period to two years. This is the form in which the comparison is usually stated to the public: but is it a just form? Is it a fair comparison? Does the British Constitution restrain the parliamentary discretion to one year? Does the American impose on the Congress appropriations for two years? On the contrary, it cannot be unknown to the authors of the fallacy themselves, that the British Constitution fixes no limit whatever to the discretion of the legislature, and that the American ties down the legislature to two years, as the longest admissible term.

Had the argument from the British example been truly stated, it would have stood thus: The term for which supplies may be appropriated to the army establishment, though unlimited by the British Constitution, has nevertheless, in practice, been limited by parliamentary discretion to a single year. Now, if in Great Britain, where the House of Commons is elected for seven years; where so great a proportion of the members are elected by so small a proportion of the people; where the electors are so corrupted by the representatives, and the representatives so corrupted by the Crown, the representative body can possess a power to make appropriations to the army for an indefinite term, without desiring, or without daring, to extend the term beyond a single year, ought not suspicion herself to blush, in pretending that the representatives of the United States, elected FREELY by the WHOLE BODY of the people, every SECOND YEAR, cannot be safely intrusted with the discretion over such appropriations, expressly limited to the short period of TWO YEARS?

A bad cause seldom fails to betray itself. Of this truth, the management of the opposition to the federal government is an unvaried exemplification. But among all the blunders which have been committed, none is more striking than the attempt to enlist on that side the prudent jealousy entertained by the people, of standing armies. The attempt has awakened fully the public attention to that important subject; and has led to investigations which must terminate in a thorough and universal conviction, not only that the constitution has provided the most effectual guards against danger from that quarter, but that nothing short of a Constitution fully adequate to the national defense and the preservation of the Union, can save America from as many standing armies as it may be split into States or Confederacies, and from such a progressive augmentation, of these establishments in each, as will render them as burdensome to the properties and ominous to the liberties of the people, as any establishment that can become necessary, under a united and efficient government, must be tolerable to the former and safe to the latter.

The palpable necessity of the power to provide and maintain a navy has protected that part of the Constitution against a spirit of censure, which has spared few other parts. It must, indeed, be numbered among the greatest blessings of America, that as her Union will be the only source of her maritime strength, so this will be a principal source of her security against danger from abroad. In this respect our situation bears another likeness to the insular advantage of Great Britain. The batteries most capable of repelling foreign enterprises on our safety, are happily such as can never be turned by a perfidious government against our liberties.

The inhabitants of the Atlantic frontier are all of them deeply interested in this provision for naval protection, and if they have hitherto been suffered to sleep quietly in their beds; if their property has remained safe against the predatory spirit of licentious adventurers; if their maritime towns have not yet been compelled to ransom themselves from the terrors of a conflagration, by yielding to the exactions of daring and sudden invaders, these instances of good fortune are not to be ascribed to the capacity of the existing government for the protection of those from whom it claims allegiance, but to causes that are fugitive and fallacious. If we except perhaps Virginia and Maryland, which are peculiarly vulnerable on their eastern frontiers, no part of the Union ought to feel more anxiety on this subject than New York. Her seacoast is extensive. A very important district of the State is an island. The State itself is penetrated by a large navigable river for more than fifty leagues. The great emporium of its commerce, the great reservoir of its wealth, lies every moment at the mercy of events, and may almost be regarded as a hostage for ignominious compliances with the dictates of a foreign enemy, or even with the rapacious demands of pirates and barbarians. Should a war be the result of the precarious situation of European affairs, and all the unruly passions attending it be let loose on the ocean, our escape from insults and depredations, not only on that element, but every part of the other bordering on it, will be truly miraculous. In the present condition of America, the States more immediately exposed to these calamities have nothing to hope from the phantom of a general government which now exists; and if their single resources were equal to the task of fortifying themselves against the danger, the object to be protected would be almost consumed by the means of protecting them.

The power of regulating and calling forth the militia has been already sufficiently vindicated and explained.

The power of levying and borrowing money, being the sinew of that which is to be exerted in the national defense, is properly thrown into the same class with it. This power, also, has been examined already with much attention, and has, I trust, been clearly shown to be necessary, both in the extent and form given to it by the Constitution. I will address one additional reflection only to those who contend that the power ought to have been restrained to external -- taxation by which they mean, taxes on articles imported from other countries. It cannot be doubted that this will always be a valuable source of revenue; that for a considerable time it must be a principal source; that at this moment it is an essential one. But we may form very mistaken ideas on this subject, if we do not call to mind in our calculations, that the extent of revenue drawn from foreign commerce must vary with the variations, both in the extent and the kind of imports; and that these variations do not correspond with the progress of population, which must be the general measure of the public wants. As long as agriculture continues the sole field of labor, the importation of manufactures must increase as the consumers multiply. As soon as domestic manufactures are begun by the hands not called for by agriculture, the imported manufactures will decrease as the numbers of people increase. In a more remote stage, the imports may consist in a considerable part of raw materials, which will be wrought into articles for exportation, and will, therefore, require rather the encouragement of bounties, than to be loaded with discouraging duties. A system of government, meant for duration, ought to contemplate these revolutions, and be able to accommodate itself to them.

Some, who have not denied the necessity of the power of taxation, have grounded a very fierce attack against the Constitution, on the language in which it is defined. It has been urged and echoed, that the power "to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts, and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States," amounts to an unlimited commission to exercise every power which may be alleged to be necessary for the common defense or general welfare. No stronger proof could be given of the distress under which these writers labor for objections, than their stooping to such a misconstruction.

Had no other enumeration or definition of the powers of the Congress been found in the Constitution, than the general expressions just cited, the authors of the objection might have had some color for it; though it would have been difficult to find a reason for so awkward a form of describing an authority to legislate in all possible cases. A power to destroy the freedom of the press, the trial by jury, or even to regulate the course of descents, or the forms of conveyances, must be very singularly expressed by the terms "to raise money for the general welfare."

But what color can the objection have, when a specification of the objects alluded to by these general terms immediately follows, and is not even separated by a longer pause than a semicolon? If the different parts of the same instrument ought to be so expounded, as to give meaning to every part which will bear it, shall one part of the same sentence be excluded altogether from a share in the meaning; and shall the more doubtful and indefinite terms be retained in their full extent, and the clear and precise expressions be denied any signification whatsoever? For what purpose could the enumeration of particular powers be inserted, if these and all others were meant to be included in the preceding general power? Nothing is more natural nor common than first to use a general phrase, and then to explain and qualify it by a recital of particulars. But the idea of an enumeration of particulars which neither explain nor qualify the general meaning, and can have no other effect than to confound and mislead, is an absurdity, which, as we are reduced to the dilemma of charging either on the authors of the objection or on the authors of the Constitution, we must take the liberty of supposing, had not its origin with the latter.

The objection here is the more extraordinary, as it appears that the language used by the convention is a copy from the articles of Confederation. The objects of the Union among the States, as described in article third, are "their common defense, security of their liberties, and mutual and general welfare." The terms of article eighth are still more identical: "All charges of war and all other expenses that shall be incurred for the common defense or general welfare, and allowed by the United States in Congress, shall be defrayed out of a common treasury," etc. A similar language again occurs in article ninth. Construe either of these articles by the rules which would justify the construction put on the new Constitution, and they vest in the existing Congress a power to legislate in all cases whatsoever. But what would have been thought of that assembly, if, attaching themselves to these general expressions, and disregarding the specifications which ascertain and limit their import, they had exercised an unlimited power of providing for the common defense and general welfare? I appeal to the objectors themselves, whether they would in that case have employed the same reasoning in justification of Congress as they now make use of against the convention. How difficult it is for error to escape its own condemnation!

 

 

 

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  • 5/27/2010 8:27 PM Dental Insurance wrote:
    The Federalist Papers. Those are such a commonly profound resource. Isn't it amazing that they are still pertinent?
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  • 10/31/2010 11:50 AM john cottam md wrote:
    One thing should be also mentioned regarding welfare. I do not believe that it will come to be that it will be placed solely in the hands of state/local/charitable organizations, though I too wish it would. Given this fact, we need to be pragmatic and at least aim for certain conditions that would foster better governance. I would first give to you a story: Joe (or Josephine) Bloe, a 36yo (let's say average welfare recipient), decides to live a life of leisure (doing literally NOTHING - not working etc.), and has parents (the US and state governments) who permit this by giving handouts (rent, food, etc..) to Joe/Josephine. When it comes time for Joe's/Josephine's parents to make decisions as to how money in the household should be spent, Joe/Josephine feel that it is their RIGHT to have a voice in how their parent's money. They decide that more money should be given to JOE/Josephine, at the expense of other working family members (like the US govt).
    That is the end of the story.
    Now, when you look at this, it sounds absurd, but that is exactly what is happening in America. what we need is a system that weans people from welfare. Furthermore, it should nto be a GIVEN thing but a temporary LOAN. All welfare funds should be considered REPAYABLE when the person is able to repay them (I know, this would actually be considered being personally responsible - not exactly PC here and now...). Also, temporarily, while that person is on welfare, they should NOT be able to vote in any election of any level of government that is actually helping to fund their charity. Of course, I view governmental welfare/charity as deplorable in any case, but I understand it will not just "go away". Removing the welfare recipient vote would remove the incentive for political groups to court such recipients by using language that somehow paints the welfare recipient as a "victim" of "rich" and "powerful" people etc... this would go further to instill in people (welfare recipients) a sense of personal responsibility and duty and hopefully striving to get back the right to vote that could not be achieved without such a provision.
    Reply to this
    1. 11/2/2010 11:32 PM The Patriot wrote:

      If we are to be true to our Constitution a solution must be worked out to wean ourselves from Welfare and thus it would have to be submitted to the States and/or to charities.   Alternatively we should be forced to amend the Constitution to provide for distributions like this and stop behaving illegally.   

      I like your idea about treating welfare as a loan.   The only exception I would make (and I am in both cases talking about a state program as I do not believe we should be doing anything but weaning ourselves from welfare programs at the federal level) would be for those who are not ambulatory or who have some other disability.  

      The Patriot


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  • 10/31/2010 2:32 PM john cottam md wrote:
    Also... if we had a logical and necessary birth-control requirment for those recieving medicaid or welfare, we would be WAY ahead of the game. it simply doesn't make sense to bring more children into a poor family at the expense of the rest of society. This is clearly unfair the the rest of the taxpayers. Religious arguments for NOT having SOME reliable birth control method (IUD, depo-shots, tubes tied...whatever) should not be allowed to be used when taking money from the rest of taxpayers. If you want money from the rest of us, STOP HAVING babies! This needs to be a platform item in itself.
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  • 11/9/2010 8:47 AM Joe wrote:
    Nice try with The Federalist Papers. Unfortunately they aren't a part of the Constitution. Disputes on the meaning, purpose or definition of the 'general welfare' clause have been decided by The Supreme Court, so that's where you need to take your argument unless you can pass an amendment. I disagree with the Supreme Court decision which deems corporations to be people and allows them 'free speech' rights, but that's another story.
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    1. 11/9/2010 6:02 PM The Patriot wrote:

      The Supreme Court will look to the Federalist Papers to identify what was on the authors minds when the Constitution was written and ratified.   The Federalist Papers were written by Jay, Hamilton and Madison.   Do you not believe they would give a better indication as to the original intent of the document than someone reading the Constitution today without their benefit.  


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