Amity did a commentary item for Marketplace radio yesterday, suggesting Coolidge as a model for current policymakers. I’ve included an excerpt below.
Coincidentally, I did an interview for Marketplace on Friday, exploring the history of tax rates. My comments on Coolidge ended up on the cutting room floor (to use an anachronistic metaphor), but I suspect Silent Cal readers might be interested in the subject anyway.
Anyway, here’s the excerpt from Amity’s commentary. Link to the audi and ful text is at the end:
As presidents go, Calvin Coolidge is an unlikely hero. Conservatives focus on him far less than they do on Ronald Reagan, and after all, Coolidge served a long time ago, from 1923 to 1929. Coolidge said “no” so often that he was trashed as lazy even by his own peers. Today, Coolidge is held in such low esteem by most Americans that if they remember anything, it is his nickname: Silent Cal.
But Coolidge did three things that stand out today, especially from our budgetary perspective. The first was to monitor federal spending — personally, with his own pencil, and intensely. As president, Coolidge met with his budget director every Friday at 10:00 a.m. Once cuts had been made, Coolidge made more. Coolidge monitored every penny spent down to the salt and pepper on the dinner table. The housekeeper at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Miss Riley, managed to cut her outlays from $11,667.10 one year, down to $9,116.39 the next. “Very fine improvement,” the president wrote in a note to her.