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Democrats and the General Welfare Clause

December 10, 2009 by  

Senate Democrats continue to try and draft a healthcare reform bill that will be palatable to Blue Dog Democrats yet still contain enough of a so-called public option to placate the party’s left-wing base. Both the Senate bill and the bill already passed by the House of Representatives contain a mandate requiring everyone to purchase health insurance or face fines and possible jail terms.

When asked where Congress gets the authority to force Americans to buy health insurance, Congressmen—if they answer the question at all—cite the general welfare clause of the Constitution.

“Well, in promoting the general welfare the Constitution obviously gives broad authority to Congress to effect that end,” Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told “The end that we’re trying to effect is to make health care affordable, so I think clearly this is within our constitutional responsibility.”

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) didn’t answer the question at all. She replied, “Are you serious?” And Senator Roland Burris (D-Ill.), obviously a great Constitutional scholar, told, “Well, that’s under certainly the laws of the—protect the health, welfare of the country.”

The word health does not appear in the Constitution. And the founders certainly never intended for the general welfare clause to be used to pass anything they pleased. But, as Judge Andrew P. Napolitano wrote in his book, The Constitution in Exile, Congress has been abusing the general welfare clause for many years.

The preamble to the Constitution says:

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

In an opinion on forming a national bank, Thomas Jefferson wrote:

"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. It would reduce the whole instrument to a single phrase, that of instituting a Congress with power to do whatever would be for the good of the United States; and, as they would be the sole judges of the good or evil, it would be also a power to do whatever evil they please… Certainly no such universal power was meant to be given them. It was intended to lace them up straitly within the enumerated powers and those without which, as means, these powers could not be carried into effect." (Thomas Jefferson on Politics & Government,

Clearly the nation’s third president and the author of the Declaration of Independence would scoff at today’s congressmen and the understanding—or lack thereof—they have of the Constitution.

Bob Livingston

is an ultra-conservative American and author of The Bob Livingston Letter™, founded in 1969. Bob has devoted much of his life to research and the quest for truth on a variety of subjects. Bob specializes in health issues such as nutritional supplements and alternatives to drugs, as well as issues of privacy (both personal and financial), asset protection and the preservation of freedom.

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  • Dale, Oklahoma

    I currently don’t have health insurance, because I can’t afford it.
    I can barely afford rent, utilities, CAR insurance ( which I’m
    REQUIRED to have by my state ), groceries and I have a 20 year old
    car that’s falling apart faster than my body is. So if the demagogocrats have their way, I’ll be mailing in my future letters
    to the Liberty Digest…from PRISON. We do have the billions in the
    budget for dozens of more prisons don’t we? So much for the Democrats
    being the party FOR the little people!!!

    • http://msn Barbara

      So the government thinks they have the answer?
      If we in the lower income brackets can’t afford insurance now how will we afford it when it is enforced by Washington? Or for that matter how could we even pay the fine? The big wigs don’t know how to live in this income bracket or they wouldn’t try to enforce such stupidity. I suppose we are to just sit back and take it or what? Are there even enough jobs to make it better for any of us? And what about the aged who will take a cut in Social Security? They already live on close to nothing. So will they put us in prison or just eliminate us poor people?
      They should living in our places for a year.. they wouldn’t make it!

  • Kerry Marvin


    THE ANT AND THE GRASSHOPPER Two Different Versions…. Two Different Morals

    ——————————————————————————– OLD VERSION

    The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed. The grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold.

    MORAL OF THE STORY: Be responsible for yourself!

    ——————————————————————————– MODERN VERSION

    The ant works hard in the withering heat and the rain all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.
    The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away. Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while he is cold and starving.
    CBS, NBC , PBS, CNN, and ABC show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food.
    America is stunned by the sharp contrast. How can this be, that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so? Kermit the Frog appears on Oprah with the grasshopper and everybody cries when they sing, ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green.’
    ACORN stages a demonstration in front of the ant’s house where the news stations film the group singing, We shall overcome. Then Rev. Jeremiah Wright has the group kneel down to pray to God for the grasshopper’s sake.

    President Obama condemns the ant and blames President Bush, President Reagan, Christopher Columbus, and the Pope for the grasshopper’s plight.
    Nancy Pelosi & Harry Reid exclaim in an interview with Larry King that the ant has gotten rich off the back of the grasshopper, and both call for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his fair share. Finally, the EEOC drafts the Economic Equity & Anti-Grasshopper Act retroactive to the beginning of the summer.
    Andy Stern and SEIU SUE the Ant, and with the support of Eric Holder Set a Court date for The ant and He is fined for failing to hire a proportionate number of SEIU UNION GREEN BUGS and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the Government Green Czar and given to the grasshopper.

    The story ends as we see the grasshopper and his free-loading friends finishing up the last bits of the ants food while the government house he is in, which, as you recall, just happens to be the ant’s old house, crumbles around them because the grasshopper doesn’t maintain it.
    The ant has disappeared in the snow, never to be seen again.

    The grasshopper is found dead in a drug related incident, and the house, now abandoned, is taken over by a gang of spiders From MEXICALIFORNIA who terrorize the ramshackle, once prosperous and once peaceful, neighborhood. Van Jones Protest’s, Demanding More Reparations for those they just released from Prison and President Obama, gives in and Gives them their JUST Redistribution for Reparations of Cruelty to Spiders. Slug’s, Wasp’s and Cockroaches Commence Putting pressure to Sue for Equal Protection Under the Law on Eric Holder with the help of the ACLU!

    The entire Nation collapses bringing the rest of the free world with it.

    MORAL OF THE STORY: Be careful how you vote in 2010.

    I’ve sent this to you because I believe that you are an ant not a grasshopper!

    Make sure that you pass this on to other ants. Dont bother sending it on to any grasshoppers because they wouldn’t understand it, anyway.

    “Democracy” is when two wolves and a lamb discuss dinner plans.
    “Liberty” is when a well armed lamb contests the vote.” Benjamin Franklin – 1759

    “All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree.” –James Madison

  • dave

    the majority of those in congress know nothing of the constitution they pledged to support and defend against all enemies foreign and domestic. if they knew the constitution we wouldn’t have a anti-constitutional, domestic terrorist enemy in the white house. and what little they do know, as evidenced by hoyer’s reply they try to use to destroy the constitution along with our country. that’s why i’m starting a campaign to call obimbo and his ilk anti-freedom, anti-liberty, anti-constitutionalists to identify them for what they are. in my opinion calling them socialists or communists or fascists or nazis, which they are all that, doesn’t resonate enough with the average american. but calling them anti-constitutional makes them sound exactly like what they are, anti-american. it is specific and definitive enough to make it stick. it is also distinctly american. will you support me in this and help it go viral? and i’d like to have everyone wear white shirts on thursdays to show support for the constitution.

  • Glen Hayes, NM

    To illustrate the stupidity of the govt plan to jail those that cannot afford insurance or the fine, consider the cost of providing shelter, clothing, food, and yes, HEALTH CARE!!, recreation, education, etc. that is provided in our prisons.(Except for Sheriff Joe in Arizona) Also, if EVERYONE!! has to have insurance or else, what about the homeless. Will they be exempt or will the govt ceate a “Government Insurance Police Force” (GIPF sounds good, huh?) to round them up. You must also consider that those workers that cannot afford health insurance still pay TAXES!! Incarcerate them and the tax base goes down. They are no longer an asset, they are a liability. This will force the govt to raise the taxes on every worker to maintain the revenues required to run this boondoogle of a plan. I have been around for thirteen presidents, being a young boy when FDR died. I can honestly say that I have never seen such a bunch of spineless individuals as we have in our congress today. They allow the FEW! to dictate how they should vote to curry favor with the FEW! so they can keep their jobs and perhaps get on a committee. Notice I said jobs, not public servant service. The difference is as a job they are working for the Party, as a public servant they work for the people! It is time for change we can really believe in. Perhaps 2010 will start the turn around. I pray it will. Yes, I said pray.

  • Linda Sunkle-Pierucki

    Seeing people try to argue the ‘general welfare clause’ drives me to distraction! First, this is not IN the Constitution, it’s in the Preamble. The Preamble is an introduction to the Constitution and simply tells the reader how the actual Constitution is to be interpreted. The Preamble then tells the reader the intent of the actual articles in the Constitution-it is NOT the Constitution! As for being a ‘clause’, this is NOT a clause in the legal sense, but a ‘clause’ in the grammatical sense. . . a description of that part of a sentence.The so-called clause is simply a descriptor of that part of the entire sentence, part of the clarifying introduction to the actual Constitution. This should be clear to anyone understanding of English. The entire argument is moot!

    • Tommy Barns

      Are you a constitional lawer?

      • Myron J. Poltroonian

        Mr. Barns,
        Your inquiry of Linda Sunkle-Pierucki: ” Are you a constitutional law[y]er?”, has, actually, little to do with the truth of her observations regarding clauses. After all, our current Pretender in Chief is a constitutional lawyer who holds (still) that the Second Amendment really doesn’t apply to “We, the People”., just as the former owner of The River Galley (a popular dinning spot and watering hole, now out of business, on the river in West Sacramento) with whom I, (on the side of “The People”) used to debate that point, did. At the very least, she is a grammarian, which seems to be a lost art amongst not only the publicly educated these days, but the hallowed halls of even the Ivy League – bloated with their oh so bloviated politically correctness. (I went to public schools in New England in the forties and fifties before moving the third and final time to California with my parents in 1955, where I was skipped ahead a grade (6th to 8th) and still had all the basics for the first half of the school year. Unfortunately, in todays context, texting has reduced the average American’s understanding and use of our traditional Native Tongue to the palest shadow of it’s former glory.)

        • George

          Do you really think for a minute that anyone knows what the hell you are saying?

        • Tommy Barns


    • Paul Revere

      You Are Right
      There is Nothing in the Constitution that Allowed them to Print Paper Money or,Tax the people Directly,or Fight Undeclared Wars
      The Way you can Provid for the General welfare is when in the Document it states You can Not Tax an Export, That Protects the Producer and his Familys Welfare.
      Also The Tax on Imports Which The Zionist Jew Lobby has been removing Via Gate Nafta WTAs. The Oucupation of Europe and Japan and Favord Nation Agreements and The tax on Labor(incom Tax) befor it is exported,IT was to protect Americans of cheap labor competing against Americans and have Americans Buy their Freinds and Neigbor products or produce.
      The Nain Destruction Of America Is the Zionist Controled Banks and The Federal Income Tac on Individuals,If we are to have the Right to Life Liberty and Property. WE NO LONGER HAVE IT No But You Have Mandatory Auto insurance,Incom tax,The Ponzi scam called Social Security, and Do Police action to Kill in(undeclared Wars) For Niggards Rooevelts Bushes,Clintons and Obomas and Be Killed that adds no new Territoy to Your Nation, But You Give up you Life and natural resorces and make you pay the Interest on theAdded Debit
      Check the Jewish Lobbys Involvement to Destroy your Liberty, Your Money, Your Right to Bear Amrms against our Government,Your Holidays and All Our Laws,
      Look at what happed to the Manufactures like WestimgHouse Zienith General Electric Studebaker Pakard Hudson Nash,Motarola Crosley Desoto Imperial,Oldsmobil, and 100s More since The Second Violent Planned World War

      • George Filchak

        Wow!Now this is really of the wall crap if I ever heard it.

      • Bones

        So it’s all the Jew’s fault?

    • Linda Brady Traynham

      Linda, what a great response!I have a feeling that you actually remember diagramming sentences, and what that skill is good for! LBT

  • John

    LINDER V. UNITED STATES, 268 U. S. 5 (1925) (9-0)
    “Obviously, direct control of medical practice in the states is beyond the power of the federal government.” Even “Incidental regulation of such practice by Congress through a taxing act cannot extend to matters plainly inappropriate and unnecessary to reasonable enforcement of a revenue measure.”

    • Paul Revere

      We Are In agreement
      And all who circimvent it Since Then Are Anti American Anti Constitution And God,And When I described Them As Vomit Urien and Puss, I still Feel I have Paid them a Complement,
      Try and Look up th Words Niggard and Niggardly in Dictionary befor 1865

  • Stella Peterson

    Can someone tell me exactly what the role of Government is?

    • Robert

      Yes Stella. Their role is to make sure (words removed for offensive content)

  • http://Don'thaveone Sally

    You guys are giving Congress too much Credit. I would venture to guess from all the reading that I have done on the subject is that for the most part, Congress cannot read nor understand what they read. They don’t care what the constitution says or doesn’t say as they are THE LAW OF THE LAND and most of them are attorneys. Isn’t it funny that they don’t have to abide by the same laws that they pass!!!!!! And to think they get paid by us the taxpayer. Our only hope is that the Reids, Palosi’s etc. get voited out in 2010 and someone will impeach Czar OB and make it stick, not like the one that happened with Clinton. Another unfortunate state of affairs, is that these people who are ruining our great country, are set for life without having to work a day, with pensions and healthcare that has nothing to do with what they voted. They even voted to raise their own income which should be a no no and also didn’t allow any COLA increase for seniors.


    Well, I hope that they will build 20 story Jails right next to the Congress and Senate buildings to remind them of the massive mistakes they made in yet another part of the ?? HEALTH Handout Bill”. Needed for those of us who don’t have the extra ‘pork’ or counterfit Obama Bill$ to pay those skitzoid ‘insurance’ fines.
    — AB

  • Myron J. Poltroonian

    Quite along time ago, or so it seems, there was an observation, made tongue-in-cheek, that went: “Everything not specifically prohibited is mandatory”. Today, however, even the prohibitions put on our government (i.e.: the Constitution) are regularly and cavalierly ignored. Personally, I’m keeping my powder dry, a’busily a’sharpening my ‘pitchforks’ and remembering to “Aim just below the helmet, no matter what color it is”.

    • Myron J. Poltroonian

      Dern Publick Edukashun! Ah ment “a long” tahm a’go.

  • AnhydrousBob

    Comments made by James Madison in the Federalist papers and elsewhere indicated that the GENERAL language of the preamble is more clearly spelled out by the DETAILED enumerated rights later in the document.

    The 9th and 10th amendments were to guarantee that any question about powers other than the enumerated ones were absolutely not Federal.

    Madison even asked, what is the purpose of the enumerated powers if the general welfare clause meant anything goes. They could have stopped at the Preamble.

  • Robert

    If the government mandates that everyone must buy health insurance and the supreme court upholds this as constitutional, I predict a violent revolution by Americans will occur. Just think about it, this would mean that the government could force us to buy anything they deem to be for the good of the public welfare. They could force us to buy a GM car or else! Force us to buy a Bank CD or else! Force us to buy and take a swine flu vaccine shot or else! Force us buy and eat yougurt or else! Think about it. If the supreme court rules in favor of the government on this issue, this would be the final bastardization of our constitution. Our freedom and liberties are under attack by the Washington politicians. If we allow them to dictate our lives, we are nothing more than slaves. Remember, there are only 545 people in this country who have the power to enslave 300 million Americans. It’s time to get rid of all these bums and take back our country. And forget about 2010 and 2012 elections. The government will rig the elections or suspend them indefinitely if they believe we’ll throw them out of office. And if you think this couldn’t happen, then you are living in a dream world. Washington is alrealdy discussing this possiblilty behind closed doors. Both parties are in on it.

    • Bones

      So a few months ago the rank on these pages was about how the government is going to force us to take the swine flu vaccine. But You know what? Here it is almost Christmas and still no one has forced me to take the vaccine. And no one has forced me to take the regular flu vaccine. So you all got your panties in a twist over nothing. Maybe you need to calm down and not depend on Glenn Beck and Hanity for your information.

      • Skip None

        Yeah, they are trying to create something that isn’t there. The far right extremist have them so afraid of their own shadow now they will believe anything bad they are told by those like Glenn Beck and Bob Livingston who only want to see the Democrat President and this country fall apart. Their goal is toturn back all progress we have made back to a time when 1/8 of the population had 7/8 of the wealth. Back to a time when big business could do anything and no one stood up for the common person.

  • steve jones

    once again these people in both houses have shown how corrupt they are . their are no solutions to these proplems because of the corruption they show by their spending. try this for a solution , disban both houses and start over but this time no poloticians allowed. run the country like a not for profit corporation. there will still be some corruption but at least the right people will be running the system. if you don’t like that then you’ll have to wait for gods new system coming to earth.

  • bob pa

    Jefferson was a prophet because he told us that eternal vigilance to keep our freedom. we did not listen nor learn what our founding fathers knew and passed on to us and we are going down the toilet because the politicians are pied pippers and you followers are keading yourselves and your children to the slavery and evil of communism and socialism. He warned us about a federal bank that it would enslave us and it has. the federal reserve is a private bank that dictates to everyone including the government. and jefferson warned us of it. he made many warnings and predictions and they are comming home to roost. there are only to ends to this one is pure slavery or the other is a revolution for our liberty to be regained. they are the only two things that are certian. you make the choice. one or the other. i will give my life whats left of it for liberty..

  • best battery charger for nikon

    To go beyond is as wrong as to fall short. – Confucius


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