PaulEngr,Thomas Jefferson also wrote in a letter to Albert Gallatin, "An act for internal improvement, after passing both houses, was negatived by the President. The act was founded, avowedly, on the principle that the phrase in the Constitution which authorizes Congress “to lay taxes, to pay the debts and provide for the general welfare”, was an extension of the powers specifically enumerated to whatever would promote the general welfare; and this, you know, was the federal doctrine. Whereas, our tenet ever was, and, indeed, it is almost the only landmark which now divides the federalists from the republicans, that Congress had not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but were restrained to those specifically enumerated; and that, as it was never meant they should provide for that welfare but by the exercise of the enumerated powers, so it could not have been meant they should raise money for purposes which the enumeration did not place under their action; consequently, that the specification of powers is a limitation of the purposes for which they may raise money....This phrase....by a mere grammatical quibble, has countenanced the General Government in a claim of universal power. For in the phrase, “to lay taxes, to pay the debts and provide for the general welfare”, it is a mere question of syntax, whether the two last infinitives are governed by the first or are distinct and coordinate powers; a question unequivocally decided by the exact definition of powers immediately following." emphasis addedEssentially, Jefferson is saying that the general welfare clause specifically only applies to those powers enumerated in the passage, nothing more or less.Obviously, it has been a problem from the time of the document's writing.Rich
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