Or, to put this point differently, public debt, once created, is permanent, regardless of the initial usage to which the funds might have been devote d.
Public Principles of Public Debt was written before public-choice theory came fully into its own, and the bulk of Buchanan's argument in this book pertains to macroeconomics rather than to public-choice theory.
By incurring public debt, present generations may be taking disposable income from future generations, but historical experience suggests that future generations will be wealthier than present ones and thus have greater capacity to repay it Buchanan rejects this argument:
Thus,] public debt issue may be chosen as an appropriate part of the over-all "constitution" of a fiscal structure, provided that limitations are imposed to insure that debt financing be restricted to projects that yield benefits over time.
Public debt is immoral because future generations end up facing a financial burden that is the result of spending and borrowing decisions in which they did not participate.
Phrasing this matter within a Rawlsian framework, we may say that behind a veil of ignorance people would not choose public debt to finance consumption.
Public debt constitutes negative capital formation.
Public debt is immoral because future generations bear a financial burden as a result of spending and borrowing decisions in which they did not participate.
Buchanan considers the incurrence of public debt undesirable, but not mainly for the reasons usually cited in the mainstream economic and public-finance literature.
The public-choice aspects and therefore the need for the constitutional amendment arise precisely because the burden of public debt falls on future generations.
Even thinkers on the political left today concede many of Buchanan's points--for example, that public debt constitutes a burden on future generations, that Keynesian debt-driven fiscal stimulus policies are flawed, and that government's ability to borrow gives rise to a larger government sector than would be the case if the government lacked that ability (see, for example, Shaviro 1997, 10, 4, 146, respectively, on these points).