Balanced Budget Amendment the answer? Boozman says yes, Pryor no (Part 20, Milton Friedman’s view is yes)(The Conspirator Part 25, Louis Weichmann)

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Steve Brawner in his article “Safer roads and balanced budgets,” Arkansas News Bureau, April 13, 2011, noted:

The disagreement is over the solutions — on what spending to cut; what taxes to raise (basically none ever, according to Boozman); whether or not to enact a balanced budget amendment (Boozman says yes; Pryor no); and on what policies would promote the kind of economic growth that would make this a little easier.

In Feb of 1983 Milton Friedman wrote the article “Washington:Less Red Ink (An argument that the balanced-budget amendent would be a rare merging of public and private interests),” and here is a portion of that article:

Here, for their consideration, are my answers to the principal objections to the proposed amendment that I have come across, other than those that arise from a desire to have a still-bigger government: 

**6. The key problem is not deficits but the size of government spending.** 

My sentiments exactly. Which is why I have never supported an amendment directed solely at a balanced budget. I have written repeatedly that while I would prefer that the budget be balanced, I would rather have government spend $500 billion and run a deficit of $100 billion than have it spend $800 billion with a balanced budget. It matters greatly how the budget is balanced, whether by cutting spending or by raising taxes. 

In my eyes, the chief merit of the amendment recommended by the Senate Judiciary Committee is precisely that it does limit spending. Section 1 requires that statement outlays be no greater than statement receipts; section 2 limits the maximum increase in statement receipts; the two together effectively limit statement outlays. Moreover, if in any year Congress manages to keep statement receipts and outlays below the maximum level, the effect is to lower the maximum level for future years, thus fostering a gradual ratcheting down of spending relative to national income. 

A further strength of the amendment is the provision for approving an exceptional increase in statement receipts (hence in statement outlays). The spending-limitation amendment that was drafted by the National Tax Limitation Committee required a two-thirds majority of both houses in order to justify an exceptional increase in outlays. The amendment passed by the Senate requires only “a majority of the whole number of both houses of Congress.” However, the majority must vote for an explicit tax increase. I submit that it is far easier to get a two-thirds majority of Congress to approve an exceptional increase in spending than to get a simple majority to approve an explicit increase in taxes. So this is a stronger, not a weaker, amendment. 

Section 6 proposed by Senator Armstrong in the course of Senate debate, makes the debt ceiling permanent and requires a supermajority vote to raise it. That provision was approved by a narrow majority composed of a coalition of right-wing Republicans and left-wing Democrats–the one group demonstrating its hardcore conservatism, the other seeking to reduce the chances of adoption of the basic amendment. 

I do not favor the debt-limit provision. Its objective–to strengthen pressure on Congress to balance the budget–is fine, and it may be that it would do little harm. But it seems to me both unnecessary and potentially harmful. I trust that it will be eliminated if and when the amendment is finally approved by Congress. I shall favor the amendment even if the debt-limit provision is left in, but less enthusiastically.


I love the movie “The Conspirator” and I have been looking at some of the real life people involved in this story.

Louis J. Weichmann (September 29, 1842 – June 5, 1902) was one of the chief witnesses for the prosecution in theconspiracy trial of theAbraham Lincoln assassination. Previously he was also a suspect due to his association with the Surratt family.

Louis J. Weichmann



[edit]Background and early life

Weichmann was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of German immigrants. The family surname was originally Wiechmann, but as in the case of many who emigrated to the United States, the name underwent several phonetic spelling changes. His father Johann was a Lutheran, and his mother Maria was a Catholic. Johann Weichmann was a tailor by trade, and he moved with his wife and their five children first from the vicinity of Baltimore to Washington D.C., and later to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where Louis attended Central High School. He wrote in his autobiographical work A True History of the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln and of the Conspiracy of 1865, that he desired to pursue a career as a pharmacist, but at the behest of his mother he reluctantly agreed to study for the Roman Catholic priesthood. At the age of seventeen he entered the seminary at St. Charles College in Maryland. There he met and befriended a fellow seminarian, John Surratt, Jr. This friendship was to later have profound consequences for both of them.

In 1862, a year after the outbreak of the American Civil War, both Louis Weichmann and John Surratt left the seminary without becoming priests. Weichmann went to Washington, D.C., where he taught school for two years at St. Matthew’s Institute for Boys. After leaving this position in 1864, he became a clerk in the Department of War, headed by Secretary Edwin Stanton. Surratt had in the meantime become a courier and agent for the Confederacy. As a result of his earlier friendship with John Surratt, Weichmann took lodgings in the boarding house of Surratt’s mother, Mary Surratt, in Washington D.C. This happenstance brought him into contact with the major conspirators involved in Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. According to Weichmann’s testimony at the trial of the conspirators, John Wilkes BoothDavid HeroldLewis Payne,George Atzerodt, John Surratt Jr., and others continually met at Mary Surratt’s boarding house. Weichmann testified that on the day Abraham Lincoln was shot, April 14, 1865, he accompanied Mary Surratt to her other property in Surrattsville, (now Clinton, Maryland), where she delivered items that Booth later retrieved after the assassination. He further testified that Mary Surratt met with John Wilkes Booth no less than three times on that fateful day. Dr. Samuel Mudd, who treated Booth’s broken leg on the night Lincoln was killed, and claimed to have no knowledge of the conspiracy, was linked by Weichmann’s testimony to the events for which he was tried and found guilty as well. Augustus Howell, a blockade runner who worked with John Surratt, claimed during the trial that Weichmann had provided classified information obtained by his position at the War Department over to the Confederates. He supposedly was hoping to obtain a better job from the Confederate government at Richmond in exchange for his services; however, these accusations were never substantiated.

[edit]Later life

In his later years Weichmann moved to Anderson, Indiana, where he opened a business school. One of his brothers, a Catholic priest, and two of his sisters had moved and settled there. Because of some lingering doubt as to the truth and motives of his testimony, Weichmann became a controversial and somewhat ostracized figure by many people. That Mary Surratt was the first woman tried and executed for a capital crime by the federal government caused a backlash against him. There also were strong anti-Catholic elements that attempted to link Lincoln’s death to aCatholic conspiracy. Partially because of this he swore out an affidavit, shortly before his death, reaffirming that all his testimony concerning Abraham Lincoln’s assassination was totally and completely true. He died a few days later in Anderson, and is buried there at St. Mary’s Cemetery. In spite of using the spelling Weichmann at the conspiracy trial, in all his official correspondence, and as the author of his book, the original family spelling of Wiechmann appears on his tombstone.


  • Weichmann, Louis J. A True History of the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln and of the Conspiracy of 1865 (1975)


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