What would Nixon do? | AspenTimes.com

What would Nixon do?

Dear Editor:

This morning I was reading the May 2, 1969, issue of LIFE magazine. (Why I was doing that is a story for another time.)

That issue’s editorial, titled “A good-humored approach to frugality (sic),” was illustrated with an image of Treasury Secretary David Kennedy and Budget Director Robert Mayo testifying before the Senate Finance Committee regarding their request that the national debt ceiling be raised.

Imagine that.

Nixon, the conservative, newly elected president at the time, was distressed that he was not going to be able to make good on his campaign promises about savings. Consider this quote from that editorial, please: “[But] Nixon understands it is mathematically inevitable that there will be more letters to send [and therefore more staff required] and more airports to build as long as more people are being born than die. What he does worry about is the fact that so much of what is poured into one end of this monstrous machine never emerges at the other end. He would like to reduce the attrition.”

If you know me, Mr. Editor, you know how very unlikely it is that I would be commending anything Nixon-related. But these are strange times.

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