Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner made news last week by proposing to transfer the Congressional prerogative to raise the debt ceiling to the President. The change would essentially do away with the meaningless debt ceiling debates that have become ritual kabuki in Washington over the past few generations. Most Republicans have dismissed the proposal as a blatant executive power grab that will significantly weaken both the Congress and the minority party. While this is certainly true, Congress will only lose a power that it has never shown the slightest courage to actually use. But in truth, the proposal has the merit of...
T. Jefferson wanted the original Constitution to include a provision that any federal debt had to be paid off within 19 years--one generation. He believed each generation should pay its' own bills, not pass them on to the next generation who had no choice or voice in the decision(s) to borrow. J. Madison basically talked him out of this position, convincing Jefferson that war would be the only reason for incurring national debt, and since the next generation would also benefit from the successful prosecution of war that protected their homes, businessess, etc. they likely wouldn't object to having to pay for some of it. Too bad TJ gave up on this idea.
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