For all the alleged Constitutional adherents, originalists, and devotees in the conservative movement, particularly the Republican corporatist movement, there is an abundance of ignorance about a very important responsibility of the federal government. In particular, is the reference in the Preamble to the Constitution as well as Article I, Section 8 that both feature the duty to “provide for the general welfare of the United States.” Now, every Republican, teabagger, and related conservative is under the illusion that providing for the general welfare means providing for the fossil fuel industry, corporations, the wealthy, Christian clergy, and financial sector’s general welfare, but that is not what the Founding Fathers or the first four American presidents believed; neither does President Barack Obama.
Obviously, providing for the general welfare would certainly include the government doing what it could to protect the people from preventable sickness, disease, and infirmity, maintain worker productivity, and save unnecessary expense for the government and the people. Unfortunately, there has been precious little legislation aimed at providing for the people’s general welfare since 1981, or during any Republican pretense of governance because they hate the people. However, they have provided every and anything for the general welfare of corporations and business; it is just where Republicans’ loyalty, and duty to repay campaign donations, lie.
Since Republicans will not take any action to provide for the people’s welfare since Republican demi-god Ronald Reagan was president, or particularly since Americans elected an African American as President, it is once again left to President Barack Obama to do what Republicans refuse; provide for the people’s general welfare by protecting Americans’ health, as well as the nation’s economic health and security from the effects of anthropogenic climate change.
Last week the President took advantage of the Clean Air Act of 1970 under the aegis of the Environmental Protection Agency (Richard Nixon) to issue a new set of landmark regulations on air pollutants such as soot, smog, mercury, planet-warming carbon dioxide, and ozone. Republicans and their fossil fuel-related industry donors immediately decried, loudly, the President using the authority granted him by the “Act” that has been touted as the most “powerful environmental law in the entire world.” An act, by the way, passed at the birth of the environmental movement with bi-partisan congressional support and at the insistence of a Republican president.
President Obama, like Founding Fathers Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison (1st four presidents), adheres to the Constitutional tenet that government has an obligation to provide for the people’s general welfare. Each of the first four presidents signed and expanded legislation empowering the federal government to provide housing, food, and healthcare for the poor as part of the Constitution’s mandate to “provide for the general welfare of the United States.” President Obama is simply following the Founders’ example, and Constitution’s mandate, to provide for the general welfare of the People that make up the United States.
The new regulations on ozone release will not only protect Americans’ from the deadly health effects of “smog,” they will produce savings for the government and people to the tune of $19 to $38 billion annually according to typically under-estimates by the EPA. That estimate does not include California’s particularly dangerous ozone pollution that will save from $2.2 to $4.1 billion annually. As an aside, Koch and ALEC-funded Republicans in California are on a vicious crusade to completely abolish both federal and state clean air and water standards they claim are “not helping (provide for the general welfare of) the fossil fuel industry.”
Republicans will, as usual, cry foul, launch a lawsuit, threaten impeachment, and generally go berserk over yet another executive action, but if they fulfilled their Constitutional mandate, the President would not have to do their jobs for them. Republicans and their corporate backers are incensed and will claim Presidential overreach, again, but like previous instances, Obama is well within his purview according to his Republican predecessors and an agency created by a Republican president with unusually overwhelming bipartisan congressional support.
One of the fiercest critics of the President’s proposals is incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who immediately gave his solemn vow to the Koch brothers to introduce legislation to block the administration’s EPA-enforced regulations. However, in 1990 during George H.W. Bush’s administration, when legislation to update and strengthen the E.P.A.’s authority to issue regulations within the Clean Air Act came up for a vote, McConnell joined 88 other senators and voted to pass the 1990 law empowering the EPA and executive authority. At the time, McConnell said, “I had to choose between cleaner air and the status quo. I chose cleaner air.” Unlimited campaign contributions from the Koch brothers are an incredible motivator for McConnell to change his position and level of hatred for the people by opposing “cleaner air” and deliberately combat actions to provide for the general welfare of the people.
It is shameful that Republicans refuse to do anything for the people and everything for their dirty industry masters, but worse that they will attack the one man in Washington following the Constitution’s mandate to provide for the general welfare of the United States by doing their jobs for them. The President’s executive actions on any number of issues, although entirely legal, have been portrayed as violating the Constitution, instituting socialism, ethnic cleansing, attacking corporations, and destroying America, and because Americans are the world’s second most ignorant population, many will interpret a valiant effort to protect the population as un-American. However, if that were the case, then the Constitution’s Framers, the Founding Fathers, and the first four American presidents were blatantly un-American.
Americans have been programmed to believe, and are so habituated, to Republican ideology they attribute to the WTF Federalist Papers that government exists solely to protect and provide welfare for a tiny percentage of the wealthy elite, that Republicans will have a measure of success convincing them that the African American President is an dictatorial tyrant. Some Americans, though, will see that once again, this President is single-handedly adhering to the Constitution and protecting Americans’ health and economic well-being by providing for their general welfare; precisely as the Constitution demands and the Founding Fathers intended.