The next big question on the federal debt limit could be whether to start selling the government’s holdings of gold at Fort Knox — and at least one presidential contender, Ron Paul, has told The New York Sun he thinks it would be a good move.

The question has been ricocheting around the policy circles today. An analyst at the Heritage Foundation, Ron Utt, told the Washington Post that the gold holdings of the government are “just sort of sitting there.” He added: “Given the high price it is now, and the tremendous debt problem we now have, by all means, sell at the peak.”

Dr. Paul told the Sun today that he reckoned the sale of gold reserves would be “a good and moral decision. An individual would have to do the same.”

However, one of the most famous advocates of the gold standard, Lewis Lehrman, opposes the sale of the gold holdings of the American government — or any part of them. “Under no circumstances should the United States consider selling a single ounce of gold,” Mr. Lehrman, who runs the internet project TheGoldStandardNow.org, told the Sun. “On the contrary, depending upon the facts and circumstances and the level of prices, the United States might be a gradual buyer.”

Mr. Lehrman, who had served in the early 1980s with Dr. Paul as a member of the United States Gold Commission, had just been this afternoon interviewed by Diane Rehm of National Public Radio, on which he called for American leadership in restoring a gold standard. He did not suggest that it could be done immediately, but he argued that this is the time to start, saying: “We have all the grounding and the basis for the United States taking the lead in establishing the convertibility of the dollar today.”

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