Here's my question: Were the nation's founders, and some of their successors, callous and indifferent to human tragedy? Or, were they stupid and couldn't find the passages in the Constitution that authorized spending "on the objects of benevolence"?
Some people might say, "Aha! They forgot about the Constitution's general welfare clause!" Here's what James Madison said: "With respect to the two words 'general welfare,' I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators."
Thomas Jefferson explained, "Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated." In 1828, South Carolina Sen. William Drayton said, "If Congress can determine what constitutes the general welfare and can appropriate money for its advancement, where is the limitation to carrying into execution whatever can be effected by money?"
Don't get me wrong about this. I'm not being too critical of President Bush or any other politician. There's such a broad ignorance or contempt for constitutional principles among the American people that any politician who bore truth faith and allegiance to the Constitution would commit political suicide.
Angry conservatives take note: a fiscally responsible Republican Party would probably be an out-of-power Republican Party. The reason? Voters, by and large, have no real interest in fiscal responsibility. End of story.