Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns


How to Beat a Recession

Coolidge style, Charles Johnson notes:

Like the current administration, the Harding-Coolidge administration faced a tough recession from 1919-1921. But unlike the current administration, the Harding-Coolidge and Coolidge-Dawes administrations cut taxes, balanced budgets and slashed government spending, reducing federal debt by over a third in a decade.

The economy grew, averaging just over 7% from 1924 to 1929, the years of his presidency. So did Coolidge's popularity. He was so popular that even during the Great Depression's height song-writer Cole Porter compared his lover to the "Coolidge dollar."

Coolidge also saw how government efforts to help often did nothing of the sort:

For Coolidge, then, fiscal matters were a moral question that tested the founding-era premise that free people can govern themselves. He encouraged Americans to "begin to work and save," in good and bad times. Only "our productive capacity," he told Depression-era readers in his autobiography, published in 1929, "is sufficient to maintain us all in a state of prosperity if we give sufficient attention to thrift and industry."

That productive capacity, Coolidge knew, was sapped by the spendthrift--he called it "socialistic"--notions of government that sought to be all things to all people. Coolidge, making note of federal farm subsidies and flood insurance, criticized the thinking of "expect[ing] the government in some miraculous way to save us from the consequences of our own acts."

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