Jefferson believed that deficit spending was one of the worst things a government could do. He was one of the very few presidents in history who balanced the federal budget every year during his administration. He was of the opinion that, if it was ever necessary to borrow money due to emergencies, a tax must be implemented to ensure that the debt was paid off within twenty years. Otherwise, it would be a case of one generation stealing from another. In Jefferson's view, this was not only bad fiscal policy, but also a moral crime.
While Jefferson would probably approve of much of what President Obama has done in the opening weeks of his administration, one thing he would likely have objected to very strongly is the massive increases in government spending and the resulting increases to an already bloated national debt. And now it appears that some moderate and conservative Democrats in the Senate are of that same opinion.
In the debates over this budget that will be dominating the political headlines in the coming weeks and months, let's hope that fiscally-responsible politicians on both parties press for a certain measure of restraint. It remains to be seen whether increases in government spending will contribute to ending the current economic troubles, but what is certain that the every penny we spend today is a penny we're stealing from our grandchildren. And Jefferson would certainly have disapproved.