Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Take it From Calvin Coolidge on Taxes and Spending

Following up on yesterday's post, "The Calvin Coolidge Comeback."

Here's Amity Shlaes, at WSJ, "The Coolidge Lesson on Taxes and Spending":
Only Reagan could fix this.

That's the intuitive reaction to the surge of spending and budgetary challenges in Washington today. It's hard to think of another Republican with the fortitude to push back against the outlays, to make government smaller, to lower taxes. And to show that such moves can yield prosperity.

The "only Reagan" assumption is too narrow—especially when it comes to the fiscal challenge. For while Reagan inspired and cut taxes, he did not reduce the deficit. He did not even cut the budget. But if you look back, past Dwight Eisenhower and around the curve of history, you can find a Republican who did all those things: Calvin Coolidge.

A New Englander and former Massachusetts governor, Coolidge came to Washington as vice president and moved into the White House only in 1923 after the sudden death of President Warren Harding. He later won the office himself and served until 1929. The 30th president cut the top income-tax rate to 25% (lower than the 28% of the historic Reagan cut of 1986). Coolidge reduced the national debt and balanced the budget. When he departed the White House for his home in Northampton, Mass., he left a federal budget smaller than the one he found.

Three factors gave Silent Cal the ability to cut as he did, each suggesting a governing approach that would be useful today...
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