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Past Fiscal Prudence

Wouldn’t it be refreshing to hear a politician use the terms “hard boiled”, “surplus” and “prudent fiscal management” in government budgeting?

Listening to an old-time radio show, I heard a 1948 speech by President Harry S. Truman promoting the “U.S. Security Loan Drive,” aimed at encouraging citizens to buy U.S. securities, for their and U.S. security. Truman emphasized volunteerism, thrift, saving, and other prudent living practices. Alas, today, politicians would rather buy votes with confiscated tax proceeds (aka wealth redistribution) than encourage prudent living practices.

It struck me that Truman asked citizens to buy bonds, so apparently he wasn’t depending on the magical (and risky) power our Federal Reserve has to buy bonds.

In a <a href=”http://quod.lib.umich.edu/p/ppotpus/4728453.1948.001?rgn=main;view=fulltext“>collection of Truman’s public papers</a>, I came across a 1948 excerpt that reflected his concern for fiscal responsibility:

“The policies on which this budget is based, therefore, mean that under present conditions of high costs, it is even more realistic and hard boiled than the I948 budget was … In order to portray clearly some of the major facts about this budget, I am distributing charts. I should like particularly to refer to 4 of these charts. … First, the chart covering Federal budget receipts and expenditures for the period 1939 to I949 shows clearly the effective work which has been done to bring down the wartime peak of expenditures. It shows graphically the important fact that I949 will be the third consecutive year in which we have achieved a surplus. This surplus is one of the most important factors in combating inflation, and an essential element of prudent fiscal management.”

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