Having lured you into reading this, I admit Ron Paul only effectively makes the title claim. He wouldn't say it directly, as that would diminish the ongoing fraud of presenting himself as an authority on the Constitution. He is not, as I will prove beyond a reasonable doubt, and can only be described as an expert on the "Ronstitution" -- what he imagines and wishes it to be.
I like political debates or arguments as much as anyone and probably more than most. Because I never advocate for the Devil, I only argue with those who are factually wrong. But nothing sends my heart into polemic palpitation more than being presented with an invalid argument by somebody who punctuates their errors with hand waving histrionics and snorting assertions of their knowledge. That is an open invitation for deconstructive demolition combined with artful ridicule.
I have divided this Fox News Sunday segment into two parts, both for ease of refuting Paul's argument as well as giving me two opportunities for righteous ridicule. I hold Chris Wallace immune from criticism as we cannot expect a moderator to have the chops it takes to know Paul is wrong, and his babbling has little connection to history and the Constitution.
This will be fun. Let's begin.
In 1798 the 5th Congress passed, and President John Adams signed into law "An Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen," a healthcare plan for privately employed merchant marine sailors. There's no substantial difference between that act and the one that established Medicare -- both being federally administered, payroll tax funded, single payer healthcare insurance plans covering a certain group of citizens.
Then, as now, and as in 1965 when Medicare became law, there was no direct authority in the Constitution to do so. Those acts were passed under the "General Welfare" clause in article 1, section 8 of the Constitution.
Congressman Paul is arguing with Founding Fathers Adams, Jefferson and (ironically, as we'll see) Madison, and many other presidents who administered it without any constitutional objection. It was the type of insurance plan Paul claims -- with hand waving and expression of true amazement -- is not authorized by the Constitution in any way and by art 1, sec 8 specifically.
It's evident Ron Paul is ignorant of that significant slice of American history, or he thinks the Founding Fathers didn't know the limits of the Constitution. That when they enacted America's first payroll tax to pay for our first federal single payer health insurance plan and built a few hospitals -- they were constitutionally ignorant.
Attaboy, Ron! If you're going to step-off into "it," you might as well make a flaming leap.
Then Ronstitutional expert Paul goes on to extend that popular right-wing error, which is to claim the only powers of Congress are those "enumerated powers" in article 1, section 8.
Flaming Leap, take 2:
A brief history of General Welfare
Here Ron Paul goes off into outer space, snorting, flapping, waving his hands and otherwise performing like -- with all due respect -- a braying, uninformed jackass. To be as fair as possible, Congressman Paul is echoing (somewhere in his bizarre, nonsensical spewing) Madison’s interpretation of the first article 1, section 8 clause — that it served only to support the following “enumerated powers” which describe the extent of Congress’ authority to act. To help explain, here’s the first part of art 1, sec 8. You can read all of it here.
The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
(My note: the following are part of the “enumerated powers," if, like Paul, you want to believe the first isn't also an enumerated power.)
To borrow money on the credit of the United States;
To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes; (the currently at issue re: healthcare reform “commerce clause’)
To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States;
To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures; [...]
In Madison’s version, the power to tax needed to be tied to the following enumerated powers.
The problem is that interpretation was quickly abandoned, as the 1798 healthcare act, among many acts before and after it authorizing “beyond enumerated powers,” show. While Madison is considered the Father of the Constitution, the Congress that debated and composed it did not agree on that point, nor did, more famously, Hamilton or Jefferson.“Extreme Liberal” Supreme Court twisted the meaning of General Welfare?
Instead of asking about the Supreme Court decision on Social Security, Wallace should have sought Paul’s opinion of the 1936 United States-v-Butler case, which was the first time the Court construed the true meaning of General Welfare. This is not the same supposedly "extreme liberal" Court that ruled on Social Security -- it was the one that, to Roosevelt's consternation, was in the habit of knocking down New Deal legislation.
In that decision the Court made an unqualified endorsement of Hamilton’s view and tangentially, by citing Justice Joseph Story’s Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, with Jefferson’s "ditto Hamilton" opinion as well (ironically, Madison nominated Story to the Court).
From U.S.-v-Butler ruling:
“Since the foundation of the Nation sharp differences of opinion have persisted as to the true interpretation of the phrase. Madison asserted it amounted to no more than a reference to the other powers enumerated in the subsequent clauses of the same section; that, as the United States is a government of limited and enumerated powers, the grant of power to tax and spend for the general national welfare must be confined to the numerated legislative fields committed to the Congress.
In this view the phrase is mere tautology, for taxation and appropriation are or may be necessary incidents of the exercise of any of the enumerated legislative powers. Hamilton, on the other hand, maintained the 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.
Each contention has had the support of those whose views are entitled to weight. This court had noticed the question, but has never found it necessary to decide which is the true construction. Justice Story, in his Commentaries, espouses the Hamiltonian position.
We shall not review the writings of public men and commentators or discuss the legislative practice. Study of all these leads us to conclude that the reading advocated by Justice Story is the correct one. While, therefore, the power to tax is not unlimited, its confines are set in the clause which confers it, and not in those of Sec. 8 which bestow and define the legislative powers of the Congress. 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.” (my emphasis)
Apparently, on Ron Paul’s planet, all Supreme Courts are radical usurpers of "Original Intent." In a true-believer Libertarian's mind, that is probably true. However, those who know something about history and the Constitution realize Paul is babbling his desires, and confirming that he's far short of being an authority on the subject.
As far as the rest of Paul's clownish flap-jackery, I think he needs to use Mapquest to show us how he gets from General Welfare to Military Industrial Complex. There is ample support in the Constitution for the concept of defense that has absolutely nothing to do with the true meaning of General Welfare, or even Paul's imaginary meaning.
Paul's hissy fit is typical of Libertarians, who for some strange, self-serving, self-aggrandizing and absolutely wrong reason think America was founded on libertarian principles.
The truth, despite Paul's sniveling disrespect for liberalism, is that America was founded upon liberalism. The Constitution is pure Liberal Social Contract Philosophy. The Declaration of Independence is a strong statement of Liberalism. It shouldn't surprise any properly educated American that there's so much liberalism about considering the Founding Fathers were Liberals.
If the Constitution had been based on the ironically leftist (and Marxist), extremely "small government" Libertarianism, it would only be about a paragraph in length, and wouldn't begin with "We, the People" (too collectivist). The Founders were not "classical liberals," at least in the sense of the term as the origin of libertarianism; the ideas that degraded into libertarianism didn't arrive in America until 50 years after the Constitution was written.
So Ron Paul, if you can pause your babbling for a moment, listen up!
The reason those Liberal ideas you so despise have been taught in schools for "so long" is because they represent the truth about "Original Intent" that has been in effect since the Constitution was written and ratified. You, Ron Paul, are obviously in no condition to be attempting to inform anyone about the Constitution.
Physician, educate thyself!
Justice Joseph Story's "must read" highly authoritative Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States