Proposed Amendment 28:
Section 1. In defining the powers of the Congress, the phrase 'general Welfare of the United States' in Article 1 Section 8 will be understood to grant no additional powers beyond those specifically enumerated either subsequently in Article 1 Section 8 or elsewhere in the Constitution. Instead, this phrase will be understood to prohibit the Congress from authorizing funds for purposes not benefitting all of the states.
Section 2. The Congress is authorized, but not required, to provide funds for the support of the aged.
Section 3. The Congress is authorized to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.
The second sentence of Section 1 returns 'general Welfare of the United States' to its original Madisonian meaning, and incidentally clarifies the unconstitutional nature of most earmarks. Last week I discussed the motivation for Section 2 of the amendment. Weaker, strictly political arguments might suggest changing 'the aged' to 'aged and the indigent' or 'aged and the infirm.' I added Section 3 in honor of the Tevatron and NASA. Such endeavors clearly do not lie in the domains of the individual states. I am sure the number of such (self serving) sections will grow rapidly if people seriously consider how much retrenchment of the federal government they truly desire. Ultimately, Article 1 Section 8 should probably be rewritten in its entirety. The primary goal of this exercise is to make constitutional those unconstitutional laws already enacted which neither party has the political will to repeal. Although this entrenches laws repugnant to most libertarians and many conservatives, the degradation of constitutional governance resulting from systematically ignoring constitutional violations (has been and) will be more detrimental to the long term health of our republic than any legitimization of the currently constituted welfare state.
I include below the text of Article 1 Section 8 for the convenience of the reader.
Article 1 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;
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, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; And
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.