Terry Jeffrey

"The question at once presents itself whether the fostering of a contented mind on the part of an employee by legislation of this type is, in any just sense, a regulation of interstate transportation," the Court said answering FDR's argument. "If that question be answered in the affirmative, obviously there is no limit to the field of so-called regulation. The catalogue of means and actions which might be imposed upon an employer in any business, tending to the satisfaction and comfort of his employees, seems endless. Provision for free medical attention and nursing, for clothing, for food, for housing, for the education of children, and a hundred other matters, might with equal propriety be proposed as tending to relieve the employee of mental strain and worry."

When Social Security went to the Court in 1937, FDR used a different strategy. He argued that Article 1, Section 8, Clause 1 of the Constitution, which gave Congress the power to levy taxes to "provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States," meant the federal government could do virtually anything it deemed in the "general welfare" of Americans even if it was otherwise outside the scope of the Constitution's other enumerated powers.

FDR's interpretation of the General Welfare Clause effectively rendered the rest of the Constitution meaningless.

To persuade the same court that ruled against him in the railroad case to rule for him in the Social Security case, FDR proposed the Judicial Reorganization Act. This would allow him to pack the court by appointing an additional justice for each sitting justice who had reached age 70 and six months and not retired.

Faced with a potential Democratic takeover of the court, and thus a federal government controlled entirely by FDR's allies, Republican Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes and Associate Justice Owen J. Roberts flip-flopped from their position in the railroad case. They quietly voted in favor of Social Security and took the steam off FDR's court-packing plan.

That year, federal spending was 8.6 percent of gross domestic product, according to President Obama's historical tables.

When LBJ enacted Medicare and Medicaid -- and began fulfilling the court's prophecy in the 1935 railroad-pension case -- federal spending was 17.2 percent of GDP.

When George W. Bush expanded Medicare with a prescription drug benefit in 2003, federal spending was 19.7 percent of GDP.

This year, federal spending will be 25.3 percent of GDP.

In 2014, when Obamacare is scheduled to be fully implemented, HHS will become the first $1-trillion-per year federal agency. That year, Medicare and Medicaid will cost $557 billion and $352.1 billion respectively, or a combined $909.1 billion -- about what all of HHS costs this year.

In other words, when Obamacare is just getting started, Medicare and Medicaid will cost more than the $822.6 billion in 2010 dollars than the entire federal government cost in 1965 when LBJ signed Medicare and Medicaid into law.


Terry Jeffrey

Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of CNSNews

Be the first to read Terence Jeffrey's column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com delivered each morning to your inbox.

©Creators Syndicate