by Scott Creighton
After his stellar performance suggesting he would like to overturn the Civil Rights Act of ’64, Ron Paul then went on Fox News to explain to all their viewers that Social Security and Medicare were unconstitutional, even though the Supreme Court found them to be constitutional in 1937 under Article 1, section 8 - the General Welfare clause.
To Rep. Paul the idea of establishing the general welfare of the country means protecting “the markets” and he feels that that was the original intent of the constitution (he’s wrong) and that “liberals” have been lying to students all this time. Rep. Paul feels that we need to change that so I guess he want’s government to remain just big enough to teach his interpretation of history to our kids.
I suppose Ron Paul’s history lesson would probably omit people like Alexander Hamilton, one of the participants in the Constitutional Convention and a representative from the state of New York who just so happened to sign it as well. You see, Paul’s interpretation of history would have to omit one of our founding fathers because the original intent of Article 1 section 8 was debated by Hamilton way back then and it’s been well established ever since.
transcript of Ron Paul with Mike Wallace of Fox News:
“You talk a lot about the Constitution,” Fox News’ Chris Wallace noted Sunday. “You say Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid are all unconstitutional.”
“Technically they are,” Paul insisted. “There is no authority. Article 1, Section 8 doesn’t say I can set up an insurance program for people. What part of the Constitution — liberals are the ones that use this general welfare clause.”
“Doesn’t Social Security come under promoting the general welfare,” Wallace asked.
“Absolutely not,” Paul replied. “Maybe sound currency is general welfare, maybe markets, maybe judicial system, maybe a national defense, but this is specific welfare. This justifies the whole welfare state. The military industrial complex, the welfare to foreigners, the welfare state that imprisons our people and impoverishes our people and gives us our recession.”
“That is such an extreme liberal viewpoint that has been mistaught in our schools for so long. That’s what we have to reverse, that very notion you’re presenting,” he added.
“Congressman, it’s not just a liberal view. It’s the decision of the Supreme Court in 1937 when they said that Social Security was constitutional under Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution,” Wallace explained.
“The Constitution and the court said slavery was legal, too. We had to reverse that. So, I tell you. Just because a court in ’37 went very liberal on us and expanded the role of government, no, I think the original intent is not a bad idea,” Paul opined.
Remarkably, Paul then went on to suggest that Social Security and Medicare are the cause of our economic problems today. Does anyone here really think that granny’s monthly $800 check is crushing the economy?
Raw Story has a video of the interview.
He got a little twisted up when Wallace asked him about the Supreme Court ruling of 1937. He stated that the courts and the constitution had originally stated that slavery was legal “too”, but they had to reverse that. Meaning his argument for the sanctity of the original intent of the constitution doesn’t really hold up when you consider other little changes we have made since like ending slavery. So why of course even if he is correct does that mean that we have to adhere to the original intent on Article 1 section 8? But then again, he did say “I think the original intent is not a bad idea”… is that the original intent with or without slavery?
Point is, everything Ron Paul doesn’t like, everything that doesn’t fit into his pro-business neoliberal agenda, is unconstitutional like the civil rights act, the department of education, unions, Social Security, Medicare, and any regulations in general that keep businesses from being able to sell more rat shit in their Wheaties.
The Supreme Court obviously ruled in ’34 as to the original intent of that clause, Ron Paul just simply dismisses them as being “liberal”. But it’s harder for Ron to admit that the clause was very specifically debated back in the days when it was written and it was generally accepted, even by some who didn’t want to, that the broad interpretation of Article 1 section 8 was in fact the correct one.
“Alexander Hamilton, only after the Constitution had been ratified, argued for a broad interpretation which viewed spending as an enumerated power Congress could exercise independently to benefit the general welfare, such as to assist national needs in agriculture or education, provided that the spending is general in nature and does not favor any specific section of the country over any other” Wiki
This narrow view was later overturned in United States v. Butler. There, the Court agreed with Justice Story’s construction, holding the power to tax and spend is an independent power; that is, the General Welfare Clause gives Congress power it might not derive anywhere else. However, the Court did limit the power to spending for matters affecting only the national welfare. The Court wrote:
|“||[T]he [General Welfare] clause confers a power separate and distinct from those later enumerated, is not restricted in meaning by the grant of them, and Congress consequently has a substantive power to tax and to appropriate, limited only by the requirement that it shall be exercised to provide for the general welfare of the United States. … It results that the power of Congress to authorize expenditure of public moneys for public purposes is not limited by the direct grants of legislative power found in the Constitution. … But the adoption of the broader construction leaves the power to spend subject to limitations. … [T]he powers of taxation and appropriation extend only to matters of national, as distinguished from local, welfare.|
“It results that the power of Congress to authorize expenditure of public moneys for public purposes is not limited by the direct grants of legislative power found in the Constitution…”
Personally I think Alexander Hamilton had a slightly better idea of the original intent of the constitution than Ron Paul does since Hamilton was there at the Constitutional Convention and since he signed the damned thing, but maybe that’s my flawed “liberal” education talking.
Oh, and just as a side note, you know that “liberal” court that ruled in ’37 that Social Security and Medicare were constitutional under Article 1 section 8 of the US Constitution? That “liberal” Supreme Court ruling was under the control of Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes, a Republican from New York who was hailed as a “leading American conservative“. Chief Justice Hughes voted in the majority.
Perhaps Mr. Paul’s interest in this matter extends beyond just Social Security and Medicare because the above statement from the Supreme Court ruling certainly seems to make that point perfectly clear. Congress had the perfect right to authorize expenditures of money not limited by legislative power found in the Constitution.
Social Security and Medicare are clearly “constitutional”.
So why all this fuss? If Mr. Paul thinks sticking to the original intent of the constitution is not such a bad idea, then he should be happy because we are.
Filed under: Scott Creighton