National Debt Quotations

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As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is, to use it as sparingly as possible; avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it; avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertions in time of peace to discharge the debts, which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burthen, which we ourselves ought to bear.

GEORGE WASHINGTON, Farewell Address, Sep. 17, 1796

 

To contract new debts is not the way to pay old ones.

GEORGE WASHINGTON, letter to James Welch, Apr. 7, 1799

 

We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt.

THOMAS JEFFERSON, letter to Samuel Kerchevel, Jul. 12, 1816


"There is no practice more dangerous than that of borrowing money; for when money can be had in this way,' repayment is seldom thought of in time, the interest becomes a moth, exertions to raise it by dent of industry ceases, it comes easy and is spent freely, and many things [are] indulged in that would never be thought of if [they were] to be purchased by the sweat of the brow.... in the mean time the debt is accumulating like a snow ball in rolling."

George Washington in a letter to his nephew, Samuel Washington, Mount Vernon, 12 July, 1797

 

I have long argued that paying down the national debt is beneficial for the economy: it keeps interest rates lower than they otherwise would be and frees savings to finance increases in the capital stock, thereby boosting productivity and real incomes.

ALAN GREENSPAN, speech, Apr. 27, 2001


"I go on the principle that a public debt is a public curse, and in a Republican Government a greater curse than any other"

James Madison


"We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt.
We must make our election between economy and liberty
or profusion and servitude.
If we run into such debt, as that we must be taxed in our meat and
in our drink, in our necessaries and our comforts, in our labors and
our amusements, for our calling and our creeds...
[we will] have no time to think,
no means of calling our miss-managers to account
but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves
to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow-sufferers...
And this is the tendency of all human governments.
A departure from principle in one instance
becomes a precedent for [another ]...
till the bulk of society is reduced to be mere automatons of misery...
And the fore-horse of this frightful team is public debt.
Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression."
Thomas Jefferson, 3rd US President, Letter to Samuel Kercheval, Monticello, July 12, 1816


I place economy among the first and most important virtues, and public debt as the greatest of dangers to be feared. To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. If we run into such debts, we must be taxed in our meat and drink, in our necessities and in our comforts, in our labor and in our amusements. If we can prevent the government from wasting the labor of the people, under the pretense of caring for them, they will be happy.
- Thomas Jefferson

 

The consequences arising from the continual accumulation of public debts in other countries ought to admonish us to be careful to prevent their growth in our own.

JOHN ADAMS, First Address to Congress, Nov. 23, 1797

 

"I hope a tax will be preferred [to a loan which threatens to saddle us with a perpetual debt], because it will awaken the attention of the people and make reformation and economy the principle of the next election. The frequent recurrence of this chastening operation can alone restrain the propensity of governments to enlarge expense beyond income."
-Thomas Jefferson to Albert Gallatin, 1820.

 

For society as a whole, nothing comes as a 'right' to which we are 'entitled'. Even bare subsistence has to be produced.... The only way anyone can have a right to something that has to be produced is to force someone else to produce it... The more things are provided as rights, the less the recipients have to work and the more the providers have to carry the load." Thomas Sowell, quoted in Forbes and Reader's Digest.

 

"...all dollars come from the people. Where do [you] think Coca-Cola gets the money to pay its taxes, Exxon gets its money to pay the Exxon Valdez fines, Denny's gets the money to pay its Justice Department fines, or even Microsoft gets the money to defend itself? It all ultimately can come from only one place, and that's from individuals." Kneeland

 

A national debt, if it is not excessive, will be to us a national blessing.
Alexander Hamilton, US (Scottish-born) lawyer & politician (1755 - 1804)

"I am for a government rigorously frugal and simple, applying all the possible savings of the public revenue to the discharge of the national debt; and not for a multiplication of officers and salaries merely to make partisans, and for increasing, by"
Thomas Jefferson quotes (American 3rd US President (1801-09). Author of the Declaration of Independence. 1762-1826)

 

"A politician cannot spend one dime on any spending project without first taking that dime from the person who earned it. So, when a politician votes for a spending bill he is saying that he believes the government should spend that particular dollar rather than the individual who worked for it." Neal Boortz.

"Nothing is so well calculated to produce a death-like torpor in the country as an extended system of taxation and a great national debt." William Cobbett quotes (Pseudonym Peter Porcupine, English popular journalist, champion of traditional rural England against the Industrial Revolution, 1763-1835)

 

"There is no such thing as government money - only taxpayer money." William Weld, quoted in Readers Digest.

 

"Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt."
Herbert Hoover quotes (American President, 1874-1964)

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(last updated 09/29/2014 )