To the editor:
A new “Patriot Fund” of voluntary contributions needs to be established to pay down the national debt within 10 years.
To succeed, the Patriot Fund requires a balanced federal budget so that proceeds actually retire the national debt rather than disappear into a black hole.
The Patriot Fund would be held in escrow until a balanced budget amendment was passed or until balanced budgets were regularly achieved. As the Patriot Fund grew to a large portion of the national debt, the motivation for Congress to do the right thing would be overwhelming.
Warren Buffet and Bill Gates could make the initial donations at a White House ceremony along with other prominent citizens. Members of Congress would feel compelled to contribute a “fair share” to set an example.
The U.S. Mint would sell Patriot Fund postage stamps and coins. The U.S. Treasury would issue “T-10 bills” to denote bonds for which buyers elect to contribute 10 or more basis points of interest to the fund. The IRS would modify the Forms 1040 and W-2 to collect voluntary contributions.
The Patriot Fund would license merchandise, encourage corporate support and have retailers collect contributions at checkout. Momentum would build as progress was promoted.
Major contributors would be recognized on a Patriots Fund memorial on the National Mall. Volunteers of significant time or money could be entered into a lottery for burial at Arlington National Cemetery in the new civilian “American Patriots” section.
All direct contributions would be posted online and recorded in the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution so that future generations would know that tens of millions of ordinary American people of every state, economic status, race and religion united to support this worthy effort.
Finally, the debt retirement date would be called “Financial Independence Day” and declared a national holiday to remind Americans to never again let debt threaten the United States of America.
It could work.