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  • Tim Robinson

The $10,000 College Loan Gift: Does the Federal Government have the right to give?

Updated: Sep 16, 2022

Today we see Big Government spending in overdrive. The latest gross act is the $10,000 charitable gift to college loan recipients proposed by President Biden. Some people view this proposal as a great idea to reduce the debt burden of college graduates. Others oppose Biden’s attempt and view his proposal as a further attempt to grow the federal government with increased spending and will result in increased inflation. Still others are of the opinion that this proposal is unfair to Americans who chose not to go to college. I fall into the camp of those opposed. My reason for this opposition has its roots in an interesting congressional debate involving David Crockett. If you think the $10,000 gift is a positive one, see if you have a different opinion after reading this blog and watching the short video linked below.

Big Government spending is nothing new.

The difference between today and pre-1913, (when our modern income tax system was established), is the confiscatory taxing power of the IRS to fund every political whim of our legislators in their efforts to reward those special interests who keep them in Congress. A story involving Congressman David Crockett from the 1820’s/1830’s illustrates the battle between big spenders and those more frugal representatives who follow the spirit of the Constitution is nothing new.

To most people Crockett is remembered as one of the heroic defenders of the Alamo who died on March 6th, 1836, after a 13-day siege. He was so much more than the backwoodsman portrayed in modern literature and film. As a child I grew up with stories about Crockett from my Dad who was from an area in Tennessee close to where “Davy” was born and raised. As an adult I dug deeper into the life of Crockett. I was amazed at what I found out about his character. I found a man who was principled, thoughtful, and ahead of his time as a politician. One interesting story about Mr. Crockett occurred during his time in Congress and illustrates his stance as a modern Libertarian advocating for a limited Federal Government.

There was a motion in Congress to allocate funds from the Treasury to meet the financial needs of the widow of a War of 1812 hero. Virtue Signaling speeches,(Today’s politicians have nothing on these “big government” proponents of the early 1800’s), were given on behalf of the widow, describing her need and the responsibility of Congress to fulfill it. Crockett arose to speak. All turned to hear the expected impassioned words and maybe a homespun tale or two from the Tennessee Congressman in agreement with the allocation of funds. Instead, David looked at it from a unique perspective. While Crockett acknowledged the widow’s need, he said Congress has no right to use the public coffers for the needs of an individual. He proposed something else. The widow’s financial woes could be met by “this esteemed body” if every member of Congress gave one week’s salary to meet her needs. Crockett was by no means a wealthy man, but he was willing to put his money where his mouth was. Needless to say, his call on the membership to solve the widow’s problem with their own funds was ignored. The Bill, however, did fail.

When asked why he voted against the funding, he recalled a discussion he had with a constituent from Tennessee who showed him that the Federal purse “is not yours to give.” The farmer gave Mr. Crockett an education on the Constitution and why allocating Federal funds for “charity” is unconstitutional. To have a clear understanding of this rationale for a limited government please view the following video:

Crockett saw his role as a fiduciary of the public purse not the owner of the money in the treasury with the power to spend as he saw fit. To me this story illustrates limiting the scope of our Government and taking personal responsibility to help others is real compassion. Our politicians today, from both parties, could learn a thing or two from this so-called “Backwoods” politician’s stance taken over 185 years ago.

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