President Obama started with a much weaker economy than I did. No President – not me or any of my predecessors could have repaired all the damage in just four years.
Also sprach Bill Clinton to the nation at the Democratic National Convention in 2011.
Forgive the Czar’s vastly better knowledge of recent history than President Clinton…or nearly any Democrat…but let us examine that claim. The Czar usually finds bizarre historical parallels all over the place, and quite frankly, there is considerable reason to doubt his begging for mercy.
In 1920, the economy was in terrible shape due to the horrific spending sprees caused by a largely deadlocked Congress and as a result of a war that many Americans believed was unjust. Taxes were deemed too high, and revenues were incredibly low as a result. Land and housing values were terrible, and the country was obsessed by a terrible immigration problem. Unemployment was high and persistent; the dollar was devaluing. Large-scale government programs ballooned the size of the government beyond its ability to function efficiently. Organized labor parties (particularly public sector unions) were calling the shots at every turn, and many Americans felt the country was tilting dangerously Marxist.
|He called it. He did it. He proved conservatives right.|
Warren Harding was elected in a landslide to solve these problems, but died in office less than two years later. Calvin Coolidge became president.
He was soundly attacked by a largely liberal media, who felt he was too wishy-washy as a Northeasterner, and condemned as a tool of big business. Accusations were made that corporate America basically bought the presidency. Coolidge was not well-liked by other members of his party, often to the extent that Congressional party members ignored his requests, insulted him openly, and strongly felt he needed to be replaced by a member of the party establishment.
Coolidge tightened immigration laws, but felt bad that the Japanese—seeking to escape their increasingly tyrannical homeland—were unfairly singled out. Coolidge notified law enforcement that black Americans were being victimized at every turn, and that lynchings had to stop, and that blacks officially enjoyed the same rights as other Americans, without exception or restriction. He detested the Klan, which he correctly associated as a terrorist wing of the Democratic party.
Coolidge lowered corporate income tax rates—immediately, the manufacturing sectors responded by spending money on capital improvements. Corporate America began hiring at an increasing rate. Coolidge lowered income taxes for all Americans and his hunch was confirmed when revenues began to increase. The deficit slowed…then stopped. Soon, debts were paid off. By 1927, he had lowered taxes four times and saw the federal government go into surplus.
He reduced the size of government, eliminating bureaucracies. He reduced spending to an astonishing degree. He got out of the way, including getting the government out of crony-type business ventures that rewarded candidates with contributions.
Coolidge recommended a massive overhaul of government deregulation, which caused a tremendous expansion of business. Millions of Americans went from extreme poverty to the upper middle class—within a couple years, countless families went from tar-paper shacks to brick homes with electric appliances, radio, and an automobile. Manufacturing could not keep up with demand, thanks to tarrifs that squeezed out cheap foreign competitors.
The press continued its promotion of Coolidge as slow, stubborn, lazy, and disconnected. But Coolidge was not silent—he simply refused to play the media’s game. He spoke to them in short, declarative sentences that even they could understand. They hated it—but they could never twist his words around. The public, by the way, adored him while continuing to give Congress very low approval.
The stock market skyrocketed, and for the first time ordinary working Americans were buying stock—of course, like the 1990s, many people and companies were buying stocks with little understanding of market economics. This created a bubble situation after Coolidge, largely caused by the absence of qualified labor to meet demands. Over-expansion collapsed the market, which in turn hurt the banks, and so on and so on. Responsibility for Great Depression is not a consequence of Coolidge’s conservativism, nor was the result of anything Hoover did or Roosevelt undid.
The point is—America faced a very similar period of chaos and stagnation; and Coolidge reversed it all in a couple years. By the end of his first and only full term as President (he opted against a second term), he did indeed turn a serious situation around.
Clinton was right about one thing: he certainly couldn’t have done it. But Coolidge did—and in many of the ways Mitt Romney would have recommended.
Something for the Democrats to think on. He was so good as President that even Barack Obama has not inserted himself into Coolidge’s White House biography.
And while Republicans keep looking in vain for that next Ronald Reagan, they ought to be looking for the next Calvin Coolidge.