The One Question
What is the one question that nobody has been asking in the national congressional town hall meetings?
Why are Congress and the President entertaining a bill that
asserts power that has not been granted to
the Federal Government via the United States Constitution?
The United States Constitution does not grant the Federal government the power to legislate anything related to Social Health Care, whether that be H.R.3200, Medicare, Medicaid or even Social Security. When the United States Constitution was ratified and made the supreme law of the land, the States had agreed to and granted the Federal government only 17 enumerated powers. Later with the addition of the Bill of Rights, these limitations of Federal government were further strengthened by leaving all powers not specifically listed in the enumerated powers of Article 1 Section 8 to the States or to the People. So if health care or anything related to health care is not mentioned anywhere in the United States Constitution, then again the question everyone should be asking is; why are Congress and the President entertaining a bill that asserts power that has not been granted to the Federal government via the United States Constitution?
The 17 Enumerated Powers listed in Article 1 Section 8 of the United States Constitution are as follows1:
The Congress shall have Power
1.) 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...
2.) To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;
3.) To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;
4.) To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;
5.) To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;
6.) To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;
7.) To establish Post Offices and post Roads;
8.) To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, ...
9.) To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;
10.) To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;
11.) To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
12.) To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
13.) To provide and maintain a Navy;
14.) To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
15.) To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
16.) 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...
17.) To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (District of Columbia) ...
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.
Amendments 9 and 10 in the Bill of Rights prevent the Federal government from loosely expanding their power.2
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
So where does the Federal government think they have the power to Federally control much less be involved in health care?
While this has not been specifically answered to my knowledge I can explain the two most commonly abused clauses in the US Constitution. This is almost certainly the piece of the Constitution our elected officials would cite as to where their authority lays for this situation.
Enumerated Power number one, The General Welfare Clause
"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;"
Enumerated Power number two, The Interstate Commerce Clause
"To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;"
To state this very simply; if, the Federal government cites one or both of these two controversial clauses they will have broadly interpreted them in an attempt to disguise their illegitimate power as a legitimate one. Their assumption is that the vast majority of the American public will not call them out on their ruse. They safely assume this because the public has overly trusted their elected officials for too long and because the public is no longer Constitutionally studied. The Founding Fathers were perfectly clear in their writings about how these clauses were to only be applied to the Enumerated Powers, nothing more.
The American public has not been as vigilant as they have needed to be to hold the teeth in the Constitution as the Constitution is nothing more than parchment and words if the American public does not hold their elected officials to the confines of the document. We must change this course immediately if we are to save our Republic. George Washington, the first American President warned us of this in his Farewell Address on September 17 17963.
"It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position. The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing it into different depositaries, and constituting each the guardian of the public weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern; some of them in our country and under our own eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them. If, in the opinion of the people, the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit, which the use can at any time yield. "
(1) United States Constitution - http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_transcript.html
(2) United States Bill of Rights - http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/bill_of_rights_transcript.html
(3) George Washington's Farewell Address - http://www.access.gpo.gov/congress/senate/farewell/sd106-21.pdf
TJ Lawrence originally published this article on 08-26-2009 at www.CampaignForLiberty.com.