Thursday, May 8, 2014

The General Welfare Clause

The following was written in November 2013 as a response to the questionnaire for federal candidates seeking an endorsement from the Liberty Caucus of the Republican Conference (i.e., the Republican Party).

Here is the link to the original questionnaire:

This is my answer to Question #12.

12. C
   (Congress's power to provide for the general welfare means that the federal government should exercise power over issues that affect the entire U.S. population; not that business interests, social welfare, nor any light and transient cause that might help some indeterminate number or group of people, should justify federal spending)
   Congress's power to provide for general welfare means that (C) the federal government should exercise power over issues that jeopardize the safety of the entire U.S. population.
   There is no explicit power of Congress to “provide for the common good”, and the power to provide for the “general welfare” is often misinterpreted. “General welfare” does not mean vague welfare; that is, it does not mean (D) any government that can help citizens.
    It does also not mean (A) protecting, bailing out, and giving favors to businesses and industries or (B) providing all citizens with a minimum income. The “general welfare” means “the good of all (or nearly all) people in the country”.
    This interpretation of the General Welfare Clause is essential to preventing runaway federal spending on national projects that benefit only one area of the nation, or customers and owners of - and investors in – certain businesses.

    A bridge that would only be used by a handful of people a day in Alaska, and a public transit system in Madison, Wisconsin that would be used by a hundred thousand people a dayet cetera, do not benefit all or nearly all American citizens. How those projects are funded should reflect that fact, as well as the principles of local and decentralized government upon which our structure of government was based.

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