“Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated." Jefferson was wrong since this is not how it was written... the first enumerated power was not made subject to the other powers..it is a stand alone power
The Full Constitutionality of the Safetynets/Federal programs
Full Constitutionality of Federal spending - Article I section 8 first enumerated power
An Originalist Defense of Social Security
By Michael Ramsey
"...Congress’ power to enact Social Security for example arises from the first clause of Article I, Section 8 (what
McCarthy calls the General Welfare Clause, or what I'll call the Spending Clause). By that clause, Congress has
power “To lay and collect Taxes . . . to . . . provide for . . . the general Welfare of the United States.” THE FIRST OF ENUMERATED POWERS.
Nothing in that phrasing purports to limit the purposes of the spending to the powers listed in the rest of Article Section 8 (or elsewhere in the Constitution). It appears on its face to be a stand-alone power – a textual point made Alexander Hamilton soon after ratification. If the framers had wanted to limit the clause's scope to subsequently powers, they knew how to do it. Article I, Section 1 describes Congress as having “all legislative Powers herein
granted” and Article I, Section 8’s necessary-and-proper clause gives Congress power to make regulations “for" carrying into Execution the foregoing powers…” So when the drafters wanted to make limiting cross-references, made them expressly. Correspondingly, the Spending Clause could have said that Congress has power to collect taxes “to carry into execution the powers herein granted.” The fact that the spending clause is not drafted this way good evidence that this is not what was intended.
It’s true, as McCarthy points out, that after ratification Madison advanced a limited reading of the clause (contrary Hamilton). But Madison’s argument (unlike Hamilton’s) was not mostly based on text. Indeed, it’s hard to see how could be. The only way textually to get to Madison’s position is to say that the historical meaning of “general Welfare”
included only the items listed elsewhere in the Constitution. But there’s no reason in ordinary language to limit way.
Instead, Madison argued (as McCarthy paraphrases) that the Spending Clause “had to be understood as limited the powers enumerated in Article I, Section 8” – that is, that structural imperatives require us to read into the text that isn’t there.
In sum, the Constitution’s text does not on its face tie Congress’ spending power to Congress’ subsequently enumerated powers, and the reasons offered for departing from the text are not compelling. To be sure, there are sophisticated originalist scholars who disagree with this view, but that is likely because their version of originalism less text-driven than mine. Thus the originalist case for Social Security seems (sadly, perhaps, as I’m no great that program or of substantively unlimited federal spending) quite well-founded