From: Doug Henwood <dhenwood at panix.com>
>CLINTON:Under my framework to pay down the debt,
>save Social Security and strengthen Medicare, and invest in our
>children, the publicly-held debt will be eliminated by 2015. This would
>represent the first time the nation would be debt free since the
>administration of President Andrew Jackson in 1835. We must maintain
>our commitment to reducing our debt and investing in our future.
Now, we sure as hell don't want to be running surpluses if a recession hits, and I agree with Max and others than in an ideal world, spending the money on job creation and social services would be preferable, but given political realities paying off the debt and reducing payments to rich bondholders does not seem like a terrible thing at the time when GNP growth is high.
The part of the budget going to debt service represents our tax dollars being sent off to the rich people. Maybe its the natural cheapskate in me (and I know personal budgets are not the same as national budgets but...) but I understand why most Americans hate the national debt and why Perot did so well on the issue. Any time I have to pay a credit card finance charge, it just feels like a rich guy has robbed me with his fountain pen. And the national debt is just wholesale looting of the treasury by the same folks. They looted us first in the 1980s by slashing their taxes and padding their accounts with big defense contracts and S&L bailouts; now we continue to pay them off with interest payments on top of those initial payments. Talk about adding insult to injury.
Less debt means less interest payments, which opens up more funds for other programs if we ever to get back a majority for serious social justice spending. But since we dont have that majority, paying off the debt looks better than a lot of other alternatives.