The Revolutionary Debt Bomb - And How the Founders Fixed It!

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By Larry Schweikart

Is there anyone out there who doesn’t think our fiscal house is about to slide into the ocean?

Whether one accepts the government’s estimates of a national debt that nears $10 trillion, or whether one thinks the numbers provided by Richard Fisher of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, which includes all the “unfunded” parts of Medicare (A, B, and D) at another $85.6 trillion, for a total of $95.6 trillion, the United States faces a staggering level of debt.[i] And Fisher’s numbers do not include Social Security, which now, for the first time, has seen its out-flows exceed its income, and which adds another $10 trillion (at least) to the totals. The Medicare debt alone would stick each American family of four with a bill of $1.3 million, or about 25 times the average household’s income. Taken together, these levels of debt exceed the Gross National Product of probably half the nations in the world put together.

But history offers some hope. The young republic of the United States of America faced an equally daunting debt bomb in 1788, and, perhaps given the new nation’s utter lack of credit history, an even greater challenge than we face today. But the Founders dug their way out to the point of fiscal solvency fairly quickly, and within a decade the nation was viewed as a sterling credit risk. How was this possible?

It began with Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton—often a punching bag for some conservatives because of his big-government proclivities. But Hamilton knew that the only way to establish credit was to pay your bills. The situation confronting the United States, coming out of the Revolutionary War and the Articles of Confederation, was this: states had issued their own debt—some more, some less than others—and the United States, through the Continental Congress had also accumulated debts. Hamilton insisted the nation had to pay them all, and that a policy of “assumption” was the only sure way to convince foreign investors that we were an honorable Republic and not a banana republic! Despite fierce battles, he carried the day in Congress: the U.S. would pay all debts accumulated by the national and state governments. But how? Hamilton’s genius showed in his next maneuver, as he knew he needed to attract the “monied men,” as he called them. He structured a “menu” of new bond/debt options, in which longer-term debts received higher returns. Thus, if an investor had little confidence in the United States, he took short-term bonds which paid off less; and if an investor thought the nation would survive and prosper, he bought long-term bonds with their higher payoff. Throughout it all, Hamilton, contrary to popular opinion, did not wish to see the country saddled with debt. He said debt “is perhaps the NATURAL DISEASE of all governments,” and his first actions as Treasury Secretary were designed to reduce the nation’s indebtedness.[ii]

Hamilton’s restructuring of the debt on the surface may have resembled what Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of “Koli-for-nya” did in 2004, but only on the surface. Hamilton ensured that payments on the debt went to the oldest debt first, and through a “sinking fund,” no new debt could be contracted until the old debt had been settled—in essence setting the United States up with an “American Express” version of credit instead of a Mastercard/Visa “revolving” credit line. So while the U.S. indebtedness remained at about $83 million when Thomas Jefferson became president, the payments on interest remained at a minimum.

In part, Hamilton also knew that he could count on those whom he knew well—President George Washington, plus John Adams, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson (two men quite likely to hold the office in the future)—to limit spending and to practice federal frugality. Indeed they did. They ran the government with a handful of secretaries and a few hundred public officials; they carefully watched expenditures, with the largest being the construction of four large frigates under Adams and Thomas Jefferson’s purchase of Louisiana for $15 million. Yet despite the Louisiana Purchase, Jefferson still managed to slice more than one-quarter off the national debt.

All the Founders recognized that for the “monied men” to ally with the new nation, it had to honor its contracts (which it did through assumption); it had to establish a sound currency (which it did by adopting a gold standard and coining money along the Spanish system of tens and fives); and by paying its debts, which it did. By the presidency of Andrew Jackson, the nation had a surplus, but more important, it had a sterling credit record, and investment money flowed into the new nation. Hamilton, Washington, Adams, Madison, and Jefferson had all adroitly kept the “Revolutionary Debt Bomb” from exploding, and instead leveraged it for the growth of future generations. The key was confidence—confidence in the fiscal frugality and restraint of the leaders, confidence by the business sector in the government. Do either of those exist today?

While the numbers are staggering, like all numbers they matter little compared to the “animal spirits” of entrepreneurship, investment, and business growth. A sunny Ronald Reagan dug the U.S. out of deep straits just 30 years ago. The Founders, operating with even less, founded a nation on confidence and freedom, and the lessons of history tell us that such turnarounds can occur if the nation is determined to once again defuse its debt bomb.

Larry Schweikart

University of Dayton

co-author, A Patriot’s History of the United States


[i]. Richard W. Fisher, “Storms on the Horizon,” Remarks before the Commonwealth Club of California, May 28, 2008.

[ii]. One of the best analyses of Hamilton’s program is in Charles Calomiris, “Alexander Hamilton,” in Larry Schweikart, ed., The Encyclopedia of American Business History and Biography: Banking and Finance to 1913 (New York: Facts on File, 1990).

'Lord, we are SORRY it has taken us this long': BlazeTV hosts react to historic Roe v. Wade decision

Photo by Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Supreme Court of the United States officially overturned Roe V. Wade, and the debate over abortion rights has been given back to the states. On this historic day, BlazeTV hosts celebrate the Supreme Court's incredible decision and take a look at some of the insane reactions as the left comes completely undone.

Glenn Beck reacts LIVE to Roe v. Wade ruling: 'Lord, we are SORRY it has taken us this long'

I never thought that in my lifetime, I would see Roe v. Wade be overturned. But today, that day has come. The Supreme Court has voted 6 to 3 to return decisions about abortion to the states. But this fight isn't over. We are about to see good versus evil side by side. Many states will stand with the unborn. But others will become abortion mills. It's your turn to choose now, America!

Allie Beth Stuckey: 'Praise God, Roe v. Wade is overturned!'

I don't know about you, but I just had the most euphoric feelings. It almost seems too good to be true. I didn't think there was any way that this would actually happen, especially with all the backlash, intimidation, and violence toward the Supreme Court justices. And yet, here we are. Roe v. Wade has been overturned. This is an amazing day!

Dave Rubin: Big disagreement on what happens next now that Roe v. Wade is overturned

Dave Rubin, Libby Emmons, Jeffrey A. Tucker, and David Reaboi debate what will happen in the wake of the Supreme Court’s breaking decision on Roe v. Wade. Now that abortion rights have been pushed back to the states, will there be a summer of massive riots or not? Will the Roe v. Wade ruling make America’s political polarization significantly worse?

Jason Whitlock: Today will forever stand as a pivotal moment in our nation’s history

The Supreme Court of the United States overturned Roe v. Wade. The decision and the reaction to it have already revealed a lot about our people and politics. Pro-life groups celebrate, pro-choice groups call for “a night of rage,” and Nancy Pelosi just seems completely confused by the United States Constitution.

Stu Burguiere: Here are the reasons SCOTUS overturned Roe v. Wade

I never thought this would happen. I never thought I would see this day. I just never ever ever ever never ever believed that Roe v. Wade would actually be overturned. I really didn't. But let's take a look at the reasons this day has finally come ...

The Rick & Bubba Show: 'This is history! Unfortunately we're 60 million lives too late'

We were live on the air when news broke of the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Today, the Supreme Court of the United States overturned its controversial 1973 Roe v. Wadeopinion, concluding that there is no constitutional right to an abortion.

"The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives," the syllabus of the decision reads.

As expected, the leftist outrage erupted instantaneously, fueled largely by the misinformed idea that overturning Roe v. Wade means abortion will be banned nationwide. But, as stated in the above-mentioned Supreme Court syllabus, the authority has actually been returned to individual states and their duly elected lawmakers.

One such misinformed leftist, Parkland shooting survivor Cameron Kasky, was infuriated that those awful Supreme Court justices "just voted to kill women." So he took to Twitter to urge people to go to the homes of said Supreme Court justices to "let them know how you feel."

"Go to the home of every Supreme Court justice who just voted to kill women. Let them know how you feel," Kasky tweeted.

The backlash was immediate:

Kasky decided to delete his original tweet because he is apparently "sick of republicans talking to [him]." But, unfortunately for Kasky, the internet is indeed forever:

Speaking from the White House, President Joe Biden dutifully helped spread the misinformation about the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, and took the opportunity to prompt voters to elect more Democrats in November so that Congress can write abortion protections into law. Did the president just let slip the real reason Congress hasn't made any effort to start writing such laws in the nearly two months since Justice Samuel Alito's draft opinion was "leaked" in early May?

Watch Glenn Beck and producer Stu Burguere discuss how Biden's speech reveals that Democrats are absolutely terrified of the upcoming midterm elections. Can't watch? Download the podcast here.

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CNN reporter tries to 'ambush' GOP candidate Kari Lake, IMMEDIATELY regrets it

Image source: (left) Video screenshot/ (Right) Mario Tama/Getty Images

CNN senior national reporter Kyung Lah thought she'd caught Republican Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake off guard when she asked for an impromptu interview outside an event, but ended up sorely regretting her decision.

Lake, a former Fox news anchor, shook hands with Lah as she approached and immediately pointed out that the CNN reporter wasn't wearing a mask any more, a barbed reference to a contentious interview in October 2021, in which Lah smeared the GOP candidate as a “rising star of the right-wing and proud spreader of lies." Lah asked if Lake had “a minute to chat.”

“I’ll do an interview," Lake answered, "as long as it airs on CNN+. Does that still exist? I didn’t think so, because the people don’t like what you guys are peddling, which is propaganda. Thank you.”

Lake then walked into the event, leaving Lah utterly speechless.

It looks like Lake gained quite a few fans on Twitter:

Kari Lake has been a longtime friend to "The Glenn Beck Program." She joined Glenn last August to tell Glenn why she left the corrupt world of media, what prompted her to enter "the even more corrupt world of politics," and how she plans to make a big difference in her battleground state of Arizona.

Watch the video clip below to catch the conversation. Can't watch? Download the podcast here.

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Hunter's Biden's latest BIZARRE scandal reveals how red-flag laws REALLY work

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Even if red-flag laws weren't unconstitutional (which they are), they've never been about your safety. They're about your submission, argued Glenn Beck on the radio program. Think of it this way: If red flag laws became the law of the land, do you think President Joe Biden’s son Hunter would lose his guns or face charges for violating the gun laws we already have?

You may have heard that he once "lost" a gun in a dumpster by a school. But there's a whole lot more to the bizarre tale. Newly revealed texts from Hunter's abandoned laptop detail the strange drama that unfolded when Hallie Biden, Hunter's sister-in-law-turned-lover, threw his handgun into a dumpster near a Delaware school in October 2018. The gun was found and turned in to police, but like so many of the Biden family scandals, the chaos created a sandstorm that conveniently helped cover Hunter's tracks. Only tidbits of information have emerged, the most significant of which is that the gun in question was purchased by Hunter illegally and, of course, no charges were filed as a result.

Glenn broke down the details of the most recently revealed Hunter Biden scandal, noting in particular that no charges or arrests were ever made as a result.

"If you voted for Joe Biden and you believe in all of these red-flag laws, then why isn't Hunter Biden in jail today?" Glenn asked.

"You and I both know that the ramifications of Hunter Biden's activities and his tragic saga go well beyond Hunter Biden, because they are teaching people a lesson. We are moving towards a society that has a ruling class that lives above their own edicts. They tell us they know better. They tell us that our neighbors and even some of us are dangerous, while ignoring the dangers in their own lives or in their own families ... We saw it during COVID-19 and we will see it again with gun regulations, 'The rules are for thee and not for me.' This is why Americans cannot give an inch, not one inch of our liberty away on the grounds of the government's good faith. They have no good faith left. They have violated every single principle of liberty and they've done it in a name of they know better," he said.

"Don't be fooled," Glenn added. "Just as we saw during COVID-19, just as we saw with the Patriot Act that is now being horribly abused by the people in power that swore they'd never abuse it, red-flags are not about your safety. Period. They are about your submission."

Watch the video clip below to catch the conversation. Can't watch? Download the podcast here.

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