When asked by a CNS news reporter where the Congress gets its constitutional authority to force the American people to purchase health insurance, Leahy got indignant that a commoner would dare to ask such a silly question. You can click here to hear the audio, otherwise here is a transcript of the exchange:
Q: I just want to know where, in your opinion, does the Constitution give specific authority for Congress to give an individual mandate for health insurance?Actually, Senator, the states do that, although admittedly, the federal government does strong-arm the states into passing the kind of speed laws the federal government wants, otherwise the states could lose federal highway funds. Hardly an argument one would want to make to defend their position about the powerful benevolence of the federal government. And what is with this "Nobody questions that," with "that" being the authority of Congress to pass whatever the hell kind of law they want? There are millions of nobodies out there (including yours truly) who question the federal government's authority every waking moment. Speak for yourself, Senator!
LEAHY: What — we have plenty of authority. Are you saying there is no authority?
Q: I’m asking –
LEAHY: Why would you say there is no authority? I mean, there’s no question there’s authority. Nobody questions that.
Q: But where — I mean, which –
LEAHY: Where do we have authority to set speed limits on an interstate highway?
Q: Well, the states do that.
LEAHY: No, no, the federal government does that.
This argument about the limits of power that many statists and kleptocrats in the Congress don't seem to think exist goes back to Article I Section 8 of our Constitution. It is in that Article and Section that the powers of Congress are listed. And if you read the 10th Amendment, you will see that Article I Section 8 is an inclusive list - meaning - Congress only possesses the powers that are specifically listed. These powers include things like establishing a system of weights, measures, and monetary value; establishing roads for postal delivery; funding an army and navy; establishing patent, copyright, and immigration law; making laws regarding bankruptcy and our armed forces. Last time I checked, health care is not on that list. Neither is education, but that is a post for another day.
Ah, but the slippery slimebags of the Senate (and House) have found a way around the list of specifics, and that is the introductory sentence to Article I Section 8:
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....Pay special heed to the line about providing for the "general Welfare" of the United States. For quite a while now, various Congresscritters and federal bureaucrats have used that line to justify just about any law that Congress passes. What has been lost to many is that this sentence is an introduction that precedes the specific list of powers that Congress possesses so that they may indeed provide for the common defence and general Welfare of these united States.
James Madison had concerns about the introductory sentence when it was included in the Constitution. Here is what he had to say about it:
With respect to the words "general welfare," I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.I would say that is pretty cut and dried. Patrick Leahy is not the only brain trust who is wiping his caboose with the Constitution. Just the other day, it was Representative Steny Hoyer (Dumbass-Maryland) invoking the General Welfare clause as justification for the Congress doing whatever it wants. I wonder what James Madison and the other writers of the Constitution would think about Leahy and Hoyer's interpretation of their document?
Good Day to You, Sir