Limiting the general welfare clause

If anything should be patent by now, as we rapidly sink trillions deeper into debt’s death spiral, it is this: If Congress’s tax-and-spend authority is not restricted to the specific grants of power enumerated in Article 1, Section 8 — a restriction confirmed by the Tenth Amendment’s guarantee that powers not granted by the Constitution to the national government are retained by the states and the people — the Hamiltonian gloss on general welfare both bankrupts the country and destroys state sovereignty.

The decision to uphold Obamacare was a shameful subordination of good constitutional law to Chief Justice John Roberts’s worries about the vulnerabilities of the Court and his legacy to the Left’s otherwise certain tirade. Nevertheless, the Court can hardly be blamed for omitting serious consideration of potential limits on Congress’s spending power. Put aside that Obamacare was legislated as an exercise of Commerce Clause power and substantially litigated as a Commerce Clause case — before 10:15 Thursday morning, outside a stray left-leaning commentator or two who wanted the law upheld regardless of how it had been presented to the public, no one but Roberts seems to have seen it as a tax case. The point is that, for three-quarters of a century, no limits on “general welfare” have been recognized, so no weighty arguments for narrowing Congress’s tax-and-spend authority have been offered. …

Don’t wait for the courts, Mitt. Propose a plan that defines the general welfare with clear, objective limits on Congress’s spending power. Make it a plan that restores the states as supreme when it comes to the health and welfare of their citizens. Make it a plan that places the Obamacare monstrosity beyond federal authority, a plan that reasonably, but definitively, winds down and ends federal entitlement programs that are going broke anyway. Let the states craft their own safety nets. As a certain former Bay State governor observed during the GOP debates, if that means Massachusetts and Texas have different ideas about the welfare state, so be it. As long as Big Government states are willing to finance their own extravagance, without passing the costs along to states whose citizens put their faith in self-reliance, that is what federalism is all about.

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