Friday, August 20, 2010

President Obama on The 'promise' of Social Security?

Chicago Friday AM 20 August 2010

Editors, The Washington Post


The Washington Post article “Dems' oldies tour lauds Social Security, Medicare” of Wednesday, August 18, quotes President Barack Obama: “We have an obligation to keep that promise, to safeguard Social Security for our seniors, people with disabilities and all Americans - today, tomorrow and forever."

After teaching Constitutional Law for 12 years the President must be aware that nowhere in the Constitution does it say anything about Congress getting involved with old age insurance. Some claim it's legitimate under the general welfare clause, but I'm sure the president is thoroly familiar with the Federalist Papers, where in Number 41 James Madison explains the context of the General Welfare clause:

"...a specification of the objects alluded to by these general terms [general welfare] immediately follows, and is not even separated by a longer pause than a semicolon.”

And that semicolon is immediately followed by the 17 clauses of Article 1 Section 8 specifically defining what Congress can do, from 'borrow money' to 'make all laws... necessary... for carrying into execution the foregoing powers,' but not a word about old age insurance.

Wouldn't you think with the President's broad legal training, when making a statement about the “promose” of Social Security, he would know that the United States Supreme Court did a pretty good job of explaining that “promise” in their 1961 Flemming vs Nestor decision:

"The noncontractual interest of an employee covered by the [Social Security] Act cannot be soundly analogized to that of the holder of an annuity, whose right to benefits are based on his contractual premium payments. To engraft upon the Social Security System a concept of 'accrued property rights' would deprive it of the flexibility and boldness in adjustment to ever-changing conditions which it demands and which Congress probably had in mind when it expressly reserved the right to alter, amend or repeal any provision of the Act.”

Arnold H Nelson

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