Did James Madison, the "father" of the U.S. Constitution and primary author of the Bill of Rights, consider it constitutional for the federal government to create social programs like food stamps, Medicaid, and Social Security?
In the Federalist Papers, James Madison wrote that the "general Welfare" clause of the Constitution applied only to the specific powers listed in it, such as coining money, raising armies, and enacting immigration laws. He also wrote that it would be "an absurdity" to interpret the Constitution in a way that would allow the federal government to create social programs. Likewise, Alexander Hamilton wrote in the Federalist Papers that the Constitution only gave the federal government "certain specified powers," not "sweeping" ones to tax people for purposes other than those explicitly specified in the Constitution. However, less than a year after the last of the states ratified the Constitution, Hamilton began arguing that the "general Welfare" clause gave the federal government wide-ranging powers to create programs beyond what the Constitution itemized.
DocumentationConstitutionality of Social Programs