"I believe in budgets. I want other people to believe in them. I have had a small one to run my own home; and besides that, I am the head of the organization that makes the greatest of all budgets, that of the United States Government. Do you wonder then that at times I dream of balance sheets and sinking funds, and deficits and tax rates and all the rest?
We must have no carelessness in our dealings with public property or the expenditure of public money. Such a condition is characteristic of undeveloped people, or of a decadent generation."
Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933)
30th President of the United States
30th President of the United States
Oh, would that we had such a leader who would LEAD and not campaign!
Oh, would that we had such an executive at the HEAD of the Executive Branch!
Oh, would that we had such a leader who UNDERSTANDS that the word "execute" means to make things happen!
Selected to be Warren Harding's vice president, Coolidge became president upon Harding's sudden death.
He took Harding's big plan, that of "normalizing" the gubment's interference in economics, focused on budgetary matters, got rid of all those who were involved in scandals, and immediately appointed his own budget director.
Together they began announcing deep budget cuts and Coolidge was impatient with anyone who would not go along.
He wanted everyone in the Executive Branch to immediately cut 2% from their budgets, calling it the "Two Percent Club." When that was achieved he moved them to the "Woodpecker Club," and wanted them to keep pecking away at their budgets.
When asked about this by the press he said, "I am for economy, and after that I am for more economy." And by the word economy he meant frugality.
He then went after financially-auspicious bills brought to his office. "It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones." He vetoed 50 bills, almost all having to do with gubment spending!
HE EVEN GAINED THE ACCEPTANCE OF THE AMERICAN PUBLIC, WHO REGARDED HIM AS SOMEWHAT OF A SCROOGE!
When the Mississippi River flooded, he did not go, sending Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover instead. His presence, he thought, might indicate that he supported federal disaster relief, popular in Congress, and he wanted that notion discouraged.
His next big move - TAX CUTS! He bundled tax cuts and the federal budget.
You've heard of the Roaring Twenties? This is how those years began. Lax banking practices as regards loans burst the bubble years later (sound familiar?), and the Hoover Administration made that dramatically worse by responding with federal spending (sound familiar?). But the Coolidge years featured tax cuts.
His administration introduced what they called "scientific taxation," similar to today's Laffer Curve. They said that reduced taxation would result in more revenue to gubment as more people would be paying taxes. That more broad tax base would be larger and pay more taxes than any increase in taxes to a smaller group - which by our "leaders" today might be referred to today as "the rich."
He said, "I am exceedingly interested in tax reduction, but it can only be brought about as a result of economy. Experience does NOT show that the higher rate produces the larger revenue. Experience is all the other way."
MAKING A STICKING TO A BUDGET REMAINED IMPORTANT TO THIS LEADER!
But here is the key. Coolidge did not see tax cuts as a means of gubment revenue OR political payoff to Democrats.
HE FAVORED TAX CUTS BECAUSE HE THOUGHT THEM "MORAL." TO HIM, THE MORALITY OF THE TAX CUT RESIDED IN HOW THEY FURTHER REMOVED GUBMENT FROM THE PEOPLES' LIVES, GETTING IT OUT OF THE WAY OF THE CITIZEN.
This sounds like one of Reagan's campaign stump phrases, getting the gubment "off the peoples' backs."
Coolidge saw American freedom and prosperity at the root of SOUND gubment policy. And that gubment policy should promote and preserve these principles!
THAT is free enterprise!
And in that vein, Calvin Coolidge, "Silent Cal," spoke volumes about the UTTER MORALITY of gubment policy and the morality of creating and sticking to AN AUSTERE FEDERAL BUDGET AND OF THE TAX CUT.
The essence of leadership is to lead the way. It is NOT to sit back, wait for others to lay out and propose policy solutions, and then whine and criticize.