Bill O'Reilly On The Constitutional Right To Healthcare


On March 9, 2017 Bill O'Reilly offered the following statement as part of his nightly "Talking Points":

I (and others) took issue with his statement. However, my objection should be put into proper context.

The context from which O'Reilly was speaking was with respect to what is "owed" us by the Federal Government as specified in the US Constitution. And, it is within this same context that many of us disagreed. You can watch O'Reilly full segment on what he feels the goverment "owes" us by Clicking Here.

To be clear, no one feels that all of us shouldn't have good health care or a good education. But, the US Constitution does NOT specify that these things are "owed" to us - or, that either is a "right" under the Constitution.

So, I sent his show an email describing my concern with his offering:

Of course O'Reilly gets thousands of email daily; so, I did not expect the show to air my submission. But, someone else had the same thought and his was offered on air.

While Mr. Hoover's comment was a tad less specific than mine, he offered the exact same point as well as his valid point on education.

O'Reilly's response?

"But promoting the general welfare is; and that is the job of government......General Welfare, Ken."

The "General Welfare" (Clause)? Really?

Here is the portion of Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution where "General Welfare" is addressed:

"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;"

The two words, "general welfare", together are defined nowhere in the US Constitution. Any word or set of words which lack definition, especially in context, are basically meaningless. Such leads to interpretations based on the mindset of the reader. Or, such words can wind up meaning anything and everything, thus nothing.

With respect to interpreting the US Constitution, Justice Scalia put it best:

Accepting Scalia's words as reasonable, let's look at what some of the Founding Founders had to say relative to the "General Welfare" clause.

Federalist Paper 83, Madison

If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion in to their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every State, county, and parish and pay them out of the public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision of the poor . . . Were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited government established by the people of America.

Thomas Jefferson, 1791

“...that of instituting a Congress with power to do whatever would be for the good of the United States; and, as they would be the sole judges of the good or evil, it would be also a power to do whatever evil they please.” Thomas Jefferson, 1791

The Federalist Paper #41, Madison

"It has been urged and echoed, that the 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,'' amounts to an unlimited commission to exercise every power which may be alleged to be necessary for the common defense or general welfare. No stronger proof could be given of the distress under which these writers labor for objections, than their stooping to such a misconstruction. Had no other enumeration or definition of the powers of the Congress been found in the Constitution, than the general expressions just cited, the authors of the objection might have had some color for it; though it would have been difficult to find a reason for so awkward a form of describing an authority to legislate in all possible cases. A power to destroy the freedom of the press, the trial by jury, or even to regulate the course of descents, or the forms of conveyances, must be very singularly expressed by the terms "to raise money for the general welfare. "

Thomas Jefferson quote on the General Welfare Clause

“...a mere ‘grammatical quibble’ that has countenanced the general government in a claim of universal power”.

Probably The Most Telling Of All Founding Fathers' Quotes On The Actual Intent Of The Constitution In This Regard Was Offered By James Madison, The Primary Author Of The United States Constitution:

James Madison on "Benevolent" Spending By The Government

“I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.”

O'Reilly seems to have bought into the politically progressive's agenda on this one; he should do a little research prior to offering opinions and stick to Justice Scalia's view of the US Constitution.