The Washington Examiner explains that America’s Founders would be aghast to see how modern politicians have accumulated $trillions of debt. That may be true, but the editorial is nonetheless unsatisfactory because it’s quite likely that the founders would be even more horrified by the amount of spending. After all, the Constitution permitted debt, but Article I, Section VIII, specified the allowable functions of the federal government – and much of the what the federal government does today would cause them to spin in their graves.
In the period spanning the final year of George W. Bush’s second term in the White House and President Obama’s tenure to date, the national debt has exploded from $9.1 trillion to nearly $13.2 trillion, reaching 90 percent of the gross domestic product. …There is no doubt that George Washington, our first president, Alexander Hamilton, our first secretary of the treasury, and Thomas Jefferson, drafter of the Declaration of Independence and our third president, would be horrified by the present financial condition of the federal government. Public debt was anathema for Washington, who in his Farewell Address admonished us to “cherish public credit,” noting that “one method of preserving it, is to use it sparingly … avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt.” …” …Jefferson was Hamilton’s great nemesis in the political world, but the two adversaries agreed on the evils of public debt. …President Obama has recently observed that the national debt and federal entitlement spending have reached levels that are “unsustainable.” It would be difficult today to find any politicians in either of the two major parties who would disagree with that assessment. But they’ve talked this talk for years without making the hard decisions that come with walking the walk. The time for talk is past.