Ike believed that the US government debt held by the public in 1954 was “gigantic” and could lead to a dangerous level of inflation. (Sound familiar?) Such debt also would be unfair to future generations. “My friends,” Ike began the final words of his speech, “a century and a half ago, George Washington gave us some good advice.
He said we should keep a good national defense. He also said we should not ungenerously impose upon our children the burden which we ourselves ought to bear. I know you and I agree with him.”
In his vision of a responsible government, and good citizenship, Ike summoned our better angels. Let’s hope we can summon them today.
John O. Fox is a visiting professor and tax-policy scholar at Mount Holyoke College. He is a former tax lawyer and the author of “If Americans Really Understood the Income Tax.”