Ron Paul
1998 Ron Paul Chapter 24

Birth Defects Prevention Act

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10 March 1998

1998 Ron Paul 24:1
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to S. 419, yet another circumvention of the enumerated powers clause and tenth amendment by this 105th Congress in its continued obliteration of what remains of our national government of limited powers.

1998 Ron Paul 24:2
For most of the past thirty years, I have worked as physician specializing in obstetrics. In so doing, I delivered more than 4,000 infants. Despite what I believe to be a somewhat unique insight on the topic of birth defect prevention, today, I address the house as a Congressman rather than as a physician.

1998 Ron Paul 24:3
As a Congressman, I have repeatedly come to the house floor to denounce the further expansion of the federal government into areas ranging from “toilet-tank-size mandates” to “public housing pet size;” areas, that is, where no enumerated power exists and the tenth amendment reserves to state governments and private citizens the exclusive jurisdiction over such matters. My visits to the floor have not gone uncontested — proponents of an enlarged federal government and more government spending have justified their pet spending and expansionist projects by distorting the meaning of the “necessary and proper” and “common defense and general welfare” clauses to encompass the constitutionally illegitimate activities they advocate. Even the Export-Import Bank and Overseas Private Investment Corporation during Foreign Operations Appropriations debate were constitutionally “justified” by the express power to “coin money and regulate the value thereof”? In other words, where money exists, credit exists — where credit exists, loans exist — where loans exist, defaulters exist — and from this, the federal government has a duty to bail-out (at taxpayer expense) politically connected corporations who make bad loans in political-risk-laden venues?

1998 Ron Paul 24:4
In the Federalist Papers, Madison and Hamilton strongly denied such views with respect to the necessary and proper clause. Madison was similarly emphatic that the “defense and welfare” clause did not expand the enumerated powers granted to Congress. To the extent these clauses encompass the enumerated powers (rather than merely serve as their preamble), one must ask why then the federal powers were, in fact, enumerated in Article One, Section 8.

1998 Ron Paul 24:5
Chiefly to resolve ambiguities about the national powers, the tenth amendment, proposed as part of the Bill of Rights by the Federalist-controlled first Congress, was added, declaring that the “powers not delegated to the United States by the constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” According to constitutional scholar Bernard Siegan, University of San Diego College of Law, the Constitution might never have been ratified had the Federalists’ representations in this regard not been accepted by a portion of the public. Siegan also reminds us that the Framers rejected the notion of empowering the national government to grant charters of incorporation; establish seminaries for the promotion of agriculture, commerce, trades, and manufactures; regulate stages on post roads; establish universities; encourage by premiums and provisions, the advancement of useful knowledge; and opening and establishing canals. Each notion was introduced during the convention and voted down or died in committee.

1998 Ron Paul 24:6
Jefferson, in one of his most famous remarks, when addressing the issue of whether to grant a federal charter to a mining business, recognized below the slippery slope of a lax interpretation of the “necessary and proper” clause:

1998 Ron Paul 24:7
Congress are [sic] authorized to defend the nation. Ships are necessary for defense, copper is necessary for ships; mines, necessary for copper; a company necessary to work the mines; and who can doubt this reasoning who has ever played at “This is the House that Jack Built”? under such a process of filiation of the necessities the sweeping clause makes clean work. [1 c. Warren, The Supreme Court United States History 501 (Rev. ed. 1926]

1998 Ron Paul 24:8
Cleary, while engaging in such congressional activism makes “clean work,” it also makes for an oppressive national government involved in every aspect of its citizens’ lives. Remember that in engaging in such activism, the next liberty upon which the Congress infringes, may be your own.

1998 Ron Paul 24:9
I, for one, am uninterested in further catapulting this country down this “road to serfdom” albeit a road paved with the good intentions of, in this case, “preventing birth defects”. If this matter is so vital that it can only be done via the power of the federal government, then I suggest that members of the House convince their constituents of this and amend the constitution accordingly. I, despite my extensive work as an obstetrician, remain unconvinced. A volunteer group, private charity, hospital trade association, or university could certainly, in this age of advanced computer technology, maintain a database necessary to adequately address the information needs of those hoping to advance the cause of birth defect reduction. This, I believe would be a solution compatible with the framer’s notion of a national government of limited powers.

1998 Ron Paul 24:10
For these reasons I oppose S. 419, the Birth Defects Prevention Act of 1997.

1998 Ron Paul 24:7 Here, (Rev. ed. 1926 lacks a closing parenthesis in the Congressional Record.

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