I recently visited Washington D.C. and while there toured Mt. Vernon, George Washington's home just outside Alexandria, Virginia. Upon returning home I have been reading the Life and Times of George Washington. I am impressed with his understanding of the importance of dealing with the public debt with which the new country of the United States was saddled after the War for Independence with Great Britain.
Washington had just resigned from the Presidency after serving two terms. Many citizens urged to him to serve at least one more term and some wanted to make him king. He was wise enough to understand that an 'imperial presidency' would set a bad precedent.
Washington understood that out-of-control debt could undermine American independence. He warned that we must "cherish public credit ... avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertion in time of peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear."
Also, Washington warned about the dangers of what we would today call hyper-partisans: "They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community."
Mr. Washington could have been writing about our current very partisan Congress and President and our national debt. We are saddling our children and grandchildren with a public debt that appears insurmountable. Washington said we should use debt as sparingly as possible.
Currently, the United states is borrowing around forty cents of every dollar the federal government spends. President Washington would be appalled.
John W. Unruh,