Historian: Founders Would Want 'Our Fiscal House in Order'

Monday, 04 Jul 2011 04:20 PM

By Matthew Belvedere and Kathleen Walter

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If America's Founding Fathers were clear on anything, it was that deficits could not be tolerated, says best-selling author and political historian Larry Schweikart.

So what would the founders say about the current economy and crushing U.S. debt?

“The founders were very clear on issues of debt,” Schweikart says, “so certainly they would want to see our fiscal house in order.”

The debt crisis is only one symptom of a nation that is more divided now than “at the time of the Civil War,” Schweikart says.

“It is very deeply divided. And it's more divided than, I think, at the time of the Civil War, though less likely to involve violence because it's not sectional in nature. But the divisions involve a large segment of people who became heavily dependent on the government, especially the federal government, for their daily existence,” he points out.

Story continues below.


Schweikart, a history professor at the University of Dayton in Ohio, is co-author of the new book, “The Patriot's History Reader: Essential Documents for Every American.” It’s a companion to the 2005 New York Times best seller, “A Patriot's History of the United States,” which defended American exceptionalism.

Editor's Note: Buy the “The Patriot's History Reader: Essential Documents for Every American.” -- Go Here Now.

President Barack Obama does not believe in American exceptionalism, contends Schweikart. “One of the reasons we included the [president’s 2009] Cairo speech in “The Patriot's History Reader” was we wanted to show, have one representative document of not just Obama, of kind of the new progressive and how they view America.”

Schweikart thinks that the president has shown an unwillingness to change and “the warning signs are up for the Democrats and Obama.” But he cautions conservatives that he senses “complacency on the part of the tea party and some of the others who marched a year and a half, two years ago.”

On the issue of healthcare, Schweikart sees the legal case against Obamacare — which is likely headed to the Supreme Court — as an important upcoming ruling.

In “The Patriot's History Reader,” he wrote about a high court case with similar overtones in 1935, Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States. The Supreme Court ruling in favor of Schechter — which in part said the federal government could only regulate interstate transactions under the Commerce Clause — was one of a series of decisions that overturned elements of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal legislation.

America is at a crossroads, Schweikart believes, but he’s “not yet ready to say 2012 is the defining moment.”

Schweikart believes “there's not enough pain out there yet for people to say alright we will do what it takes to really solve the deficit, debt problems, unemployment problems in the country.”

But it seems more and more Americans are waking up to that possible reality.

A new New York Times/CBS News poll shows that 39 percent of people surveyed believe the current economic downturn is part of a long-term permanent decline and the economy will never fully recover.

Editor's Note: Buy the “The Patriot's History Reader: Essential Documents for Every American.” -- Go Here Now.

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