Tightwads vs. Spendthrifts

Here’s an excellent and still timely 2006 article by Burton W. Folsom over at The Freeman on the changing presidential attitude towards debt over the years. If you have no time to check out the article, note George Washington’s statement to

”avoid the accumulation of debt. . . by vigorous exertions in time of peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burthen which we ourselves ought to bear.”

By way of contrast, Folsom characterizes the attitude of contemporary presidents (of either party) as

“‘Tis better to have spent and lost than never to have spent at all.”

Our man Coolidge is of course mentioned among the good guys, those presidents who managed to turn in budget surpluses for most of the years between 1791 and 1931.

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