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January 19, 2013

My View: Debt ceiling should come with spending cuts


I think the headline of a Jan. 12, Your View — “Jefferson’s vision is best for America” — says it well. In that vein, here are some of Jefferson’s thoughts about a nations debt: “I wish it would be possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government; I mean an additional article taking from the Federal Government the power of borrowing. ... I know that to pay all proper expenses within a year, in case of a war, would be hard on us. But not so hard as 10 wars instead of one. For wars could be reduced in that proportion; besides that the State governments would be free to lend their credit in borrowing quotas.” (Thomas Jefferson to John Taylor, 1798).

“I sincerely believe ... that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity under the name of funding is but swindling futurity on a large scale.” (Thomas Jefferson to John Taylor, 1816)

“(With the decline of society) begins, indeed, the (war of all against all), which some philosophers observing to be so general in this world, have mistaken it for the natural, instead of the abusive state of man. And the fore horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression.” (Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 1816) 

I say the place to start is by limiting the debt ceiling increase to not more than a corresponding amount in real spending cuts, followed by electing people who understand that when government grows beyond its barest minimum it keeps people poor. 

A serious debate over a balanced budget amendment — which Thomas Jefferson seemed to favor in 1798 — also seems in order.

Bob Jentges is a former teacher, coach and insurance claims superintendent and is part a team of Free Press readers invited to comment more frequently on issues of the day. He considers himself a conservative.

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