1 vote

The General Welfare

I have a question for y'all and I figure this is the best place to ask. Can anyone elucidate for me why Obamacare should not be covered by the general welfare clause of the Constitution. Thanks for any and all input.

Trending on the Web

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

If the Welfare

is THAT general then we do not have a medical problem

we have an economy problem.

How many of us could buy fantastic insurance if we got to keep ALL our money??



I guess you really need to

I guess you really need to include the entire sentence for it to make sense, not just the words, "general welfare"...

"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."

From this web page:

Quote: "According to James Madison, the clause authorized Congress to spend money, but only to carry out the powers and duties specifically enumerated in the subsequent clauses of Article I, Section 8, and elsewhere in the Constitution, not to meet the seemingly infinite needs of the general welfare. Alexander Hamilton maintained that the clause granted Congress the power to spend without limitation for the general welfare of the nation. The winner of this debate was not declared for 150 years.

In United States v. Butler, 56 S. Ct. 312, 297 U.S. 1, 80 L. Ed. 477 (1936), the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a federal agricultural spending program because a specific congressional power over agricultural production appeared nowhere in the Constitution. According to the Court in Butler, the spending program invaded a right reserved to the states by the Tenth Amendment.

Though the Court decided that Butler was consistent with Madison's philosophy of limited federal government, it adopted Hamilton's interpretation of the General Welfare Clause, which gave Congress broad powers to spend federal money. It also established that determination of the general welfare would be left to the discretion of Congress. In its opinion, the Court warned that to challenge a federal expense on the ground that it did not promote the general welfare would "naturally require a showing that by no reasonable possibility can the challenged legislation fall within the wide range of discretion permitted to the Congress." The Court then obliquely confided,"[H]ow great is the extent of that range … we need hardly remark." "[D]espite the breadth of the legislative discretion," the Court continued, "our duty to hear and to render judgment remains." The Court then rendered the federal agricultural spending program at issue invalid under the Tenth Amendment."

Since "health care" is not specifically enumerated in the Constitution, it is NOT a function for the Federal government. It should be struck down. It doesn't matter if the Supreme Court calls it a tax.

Thank you

Really, thank you. I see where you're coming from here and this is compelling constitutionally. I see what you're saying about the whole sentence. It is to provide for the "nation". Not necessarily for the entire populations every need. But to keep a "healthy" state that could defend and retain our freedoms. Right?? Huh huh?? sweet.

Otherwise as I've argued, we'd have to start a food program for all Americans, a federal clothing department and a bureau of house making dudes to create housing and maintain it for all people. Oh wait, food stamps and the housing department. Man, this government thing is really screwed up. Ha.

Even in the case of welfare,

Even in the case of welfare, one can choose to forgo food-stamps, unemployment benefits etc..

In case of obamacare there is no choice. Either you buy insurance or pay extra tax. So Obamacare is not just a tax or a Government-run service. It IS Slavery in its worst form. Rationed health-care is pure evil and completely against the concept of life and survival.

"The general Welfare" is not "Welfare"

Welfare, or any government programs that fit that common definition, are so-named to confuse the actual intent, much like the Patriot Act is uproariously misnamed.

general welfare vs. parochial interests

The modern concept of federal welfare is largely rooted in Franklin Roosevelt's legislation. Today's liberals (also a term that has changed meaning) use the commerce clause and the general welfare clause to justify just about everything. Pretty soon, when they figure it out, they will use Judge Robert's concept of taxation to force purchases of most everything they want but we aren't quite there yet. As Ron Paul noted, why not get rid of the rest of the Constitution since, to some, those first two clauses justify almost everything. Liberals and status quo Republicans tend not to cross check their interpretations of the general welfare clause with other parts of the Constitution such as the 10th Amendment.

I take the term "general welfare" to be the opposite of parochial interests. Parochial interests benefit the few. Legislation is not supposed to be about benefiting the privileged or just the friends of politicians. It is supposed to benefit the entire population.

The Congress shall have Power

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; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

There are three parties to the US Constitution: The People, The United States Federal Government and The States.

The general welfare clause is specifically applicable to the United States, not to The People.

The clause basically states that the Federal Government can collect various taxes in order to pay debts, provide defense and for the general welfare of the US.

So what, then, is the "welfare" of the United States? That would be the enumerated powers / responsibilities of the United States, specifically.

Therefore, the general welfare clause is intended to authorize Congress to spend money in relation to carrying out the responsibilities & duties that are mandated & authorized to the US Federal Government via our Constitution.

It does not provide the authority to collect taxes to pay for the general welfare of The People. It's to cover costs of the United States government constitutional functions.

Never was it intended to be a taxing mechanism to cover the infinite needs of The People.


Right on

Gotcha, well said! Becoming very clear to me now, I knew I'd find some sharp constitutional minds around these parts!

Best response: Also when you

Best response: Also when you see it in context right after the statement, it list what is considered items of general welfare.

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish an 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;

Not only have they abused this with "our" welfare they have used this as an excuse to overreach on many issues.

Were I Obama, I would have

Were I Obama, I would have tried to get Obamacare passed under the takings clause...government is preventing individuals from stealing free healthcare from healthcare providers.

Plan for eliminating the national debt in 10-20 years:

Overview: http://rolexian.wordpress.com/2010/09/12/my-plan-for-reducin...

Specific cuts; defense spending: http://rolexian.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/more-detailed-look-a

Because it is not for the GENERAL welfare, but for the specific

welfare of some.

You might want to read the Framer's thoughts on that clause in the Federalist Papers.

If you had, you wouldn't be asking this question.

"General welfare" is a LIMITING phrase, not expansive. The same applies to "Necessary and Proper."

The problem is people who don't understand this point are the ones making the laws and interpreting them.


I'm not sure you'd have an easy time making at case for that. It seems like they are probably claiming that it will be better for all. I agree it isn't, but the "general welfare" is something I've heard the democrats appeal to.

Yes, they appeal to it because if they can trick people into

thinking it benefits "all" then it is in fact for the "general" welfare.

However, repeating it often, doesn't make it so.

The Dems are either lying, or stupid. I'd go with lying for now. (they are stupid, but I'm sure on this point, they know better)

If the bill harms someone, then by definition it isn't for the "general" welfare, as not everyone benefits.

It takes from many and gives to a few, and even the few it gives to, aren't really benefiting in the end.

I'm not trying to make a case for anything. I'm merely stating it how it is.

People can stick their head in the sand if they wish.


We ought not consent to a piece of paper that says the psychopathic megalomaniacs in society will have the legitimate right to steal from us and our children in perpetuity and, in addition, have the final right as unilateral arbitrator in any conflict that should arise.

To do so would be insane.


While I agree with what you just said, I'm not sure how it relates to my question.

The words "general welfare"

The words "general welfare" appear in the first sentence of the Constitution.

"We the people... in order to promote the general welfare...establish this constitution."

It explains why the Constitution was written.

The place where the people delegate limited powers to the Congress is in Article I, Section 8. There is a list of the only 20 powers Congress has been granted by the people. There are no powers delegated which are related to the provision of healthcare.

The Bill of Rights are a list of further restrictions on those 20 powers. If you read the preamble to the Bill of Rights it will tell you so. (The BOR are not a list of rights granted to the people).

The BOR say things like: "Congress shall make no law...", "...shall not be infringed", "...shall not be violated" which makes clear that it is the people telling the federal government what they cannot do.

18 powers. Please do not invent more.


Thank you

Thanks, good information. General welfare is also mentioned in the Article two and section 8. Can you elaborate on this section as well. I do feel I need bit more exposition.

Article 1, 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 Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States

You're right, I wasn't aware of that clause. Actually this does seem to me to be a delegated power. This is another reason why the Constitution needs to be repudiated. farmer is correct. Only 39 people signed it, so it's a contract between them and the government. But they're dead now.

Well it is and isn't

I'm not sure that it can stretch as far as health care. That's why I'm wondering. It could be the case if this is true that since food is necessary to survive, the government must supply us all the food we want to eat. People are starving everyday. So we need socialized fooding. See what I'm saying. Health care is sooooo basic to our everyday lives I'm not sure it can be injected here. It's like shelter or food, it's needed to survive, sort of. Ha.

Since it is written in English...

..it's fairly easy to parse.

It's a compound statement that includes the restrictive clause "to...provide for the...general welfare." Taking each delegated authority in turn, one could rephrase it thus:

"Congress shall have power to kill kittens and puppies to provide for the general welfare", but would have NO authority to kill puppies and kittens for any other purpose.

dynamite anthrax supreme court white house tea party jihad
West of 89
a novel of another america

Not sure

Not sure you're making a case here against socialized health care. I'd like to understand if you are. Thanks.

Wasn't make any such case

I was making a plea for reading and speaking English.

dynamite anthrax supreme court white house tea party jihad
West of 89
a novel of another america

I'm not sure

I'm not sure anyone was having difficulty with English. I was looking to see if in the context of the whole document, not just this particular area of the document anyone could make a case (other than the free market case, the fact that we're in debt case, the fact that we're already heavily taxed) from the constitution against socialized health care. The small passage above is clear, I'm just looking to find out if there are any people who can create a constitutional case.


Well I'm glad you found it even though I boneheadly said Article 2. Ha. I'm not convinced that this would allow for socialized healthcare, but I thought I would ask and see what people thought. I'd like to hear Ron Paul talk about this.


The words "We the people..." are fraudulent. "We the people" did not do anything. Some elites wrote those words to trick individual people and have been quite successful in their fraud. "We the people" did not delegate any powers. Certain people wrote down a list of powers they were claiming...among them the power to tax (i.e., "We now have the legitimate right to steal from you and your children in perpetuity.") and a list of promises, which anyone who is not totally brain dead would observe were selectively violated from the very beginning and have been perpetually violated in greater and greater degree ever since.

It is up to us now to make a responsible decision and practically withdraw consent from a presumptuous (and ridiculous) idea to which we never could have consented in the first place. Think about it: I consent to be governed by others, i.e., I voluntarily give my permission for you to force me to do things that I do not agree to do voluntarily. And I fully agree that if I do not do those things which I do not agree to do, then it will be legitimate for you to kill me. This is utter nonsense.

Your so far out in lala land that it is getting tiresome.

I try and try, but I cannot squeeze an ounce of practicality from anything you write.

There is NO alternative to a Constituional Republic. None of your anarchistic alternatives hold water.

You may rant all you want about natural rights, but this is a world of force and killing and power. The only way to have pratical freedom is to enshirne it in law and defend it with bayonette.

What good does whining how "one man may not govern another" do when that "one man" already has his boot on your face.

These are terrible times. We need to restore, perhaps even perfect the Constitution, not defame it. ALL of its shortcomings are the product of treason. That must be delt with. And we will not deal with it by distractions like this.


It's really quite amusing that someone with a screen name related to the circus of college football presumes to make a comment about something being a distraction.

Here's a practical suggestion: Work toward the redirection of useful resources from playing with balls to something that can increase the level of liberty in society.

"As to the species of exercise, I advise the gun. While this gives [only] moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun, therefore, be the constant companion to your walks."

-- Thomas Jefferson, writing to his teenaged nephew.

(Practical advice from Thomas Jefferson)

Thanks for the advice.

I will keep it in mind.