Some good insight from Dr. Harold Pease of CA-TAC:
here are many less well-known facts to keep in mind as you review Section 8. Convention delegates curiously placed every power in one sentence with 18 paragraphs. This strange construction was to make it even more difficult for future power grabbers to isolate and enhance a power. Everything had to be considered in the context of the one sentence.
The Founders gave the federal government only four areas of power: taxes, paying the debts, providing for the general welfare (that’s not the same as providing the general welfare), and providing for the common defense. That is it. All four powers are identified before the first semi colon. Everything that follows are simply qualifiers of these four.
The Founders did not dare to leave the phrase “general welfare” for future power grabbers, as there is no telling what they could do with this vague concept if left undefined. They understood that it is the nature of all governments to grow. As a result, clauses 2-9 list 14 powers that comprise “general welfare.” Five deal with borrowing money, regulating its value, and dealing with counterfeiting. The other nine powers include naturalization, bankruptcies, establishing post offices, protecting inventors and authors, establishing “tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court” and “regulating commerce with foreign nations and among the several states.”