The President Responds

Question

I noticed that the Reagan quote from your page, Calvin Coolidge and Ronald Reagan, and noticed that Reagan talked about cutting taxes but not cutting spending. Did Reagan not want to cut spending as well, or is that an omission?

Answer

As you know, President Reagan was a great admirer of President Coolidge because both presidents believed in tax cuts as a method of stimulating economic growth. Coolidge, however, also prized balanced budgets and debt reduction in concert with tax cuts. President Reagan was less concerned by these things because 1. He believed that the economic growth precipitated by tax cuts would increase revenue, thus making cuts to government superfluous, and 2. President Reagan largely reconciled himself to the social welfare state; he had little-to-no interest in rolling back the social welfare programs of the New Deal and the Great Society, such as Social Security and Medicare.


Question

How would President Coolidge deal with Iran’s nuclear program today? Since Iran has a terrorist government, would he negotiate with terrorists or would he bomb their nuclear facilities if Iran did not stop enriching uranium completely?

Answer

Coolidge’s presidency was a time of relative calm and tranquility on the international stage, so as a result his administration is not remembered for any grand foreign policy breakthroughs, although he did play a large role in initiatives such as the Kellogg-Briand pact to outlaw war as a means of resolving disputes.

It’s difficult to say how Coolidge would have responded to Iran’s nuclear program. However, the rise of Nazi Germany in the 1930s provides a useful comparison. In the run-up to the Second World War the policy of the United States, in particular, was absolutely to stay out of European continental entanglements. The policy of democratic governments like the United Kingdom and France was, generally, to look the other way and appease Hitler as he systematically violated the terms of the Versailles treaty that ended the First World War. It was only after years of appeasement, after Hitler had invaded and annexed huge swaths of central European territory and independent countries like Austria and Czechoslovakia, that the British and the French finally drew a red line at the western border of Poland.

One would think Coolidge would’ve had the wisdom to see that appeasing dictators is usually a bad move, and that protecting the safety and interests of the United States would’ve been at the forefront of his thoughts, as I know it is at the forefront of the thoughts of both our current president and the Republican opposition. It’s a difficult issue, but hopefully we will find a solution that preserves peace and forever prevents the use of nuclear weapons.


Question

How many times did President Coolidge veto?

Answer

Coolidge vetoed 50 bills. He liked the “pocket veto,” then a less known format, which the New York Times characterized as killing a law “by inaction.”


Question

What would President Coolidge say about the name calling on TV today?

Answer

Coolidge told Americans he never was hurt by what he didn’t say. In his autobiography, the president recalled that in one early campaign: “We made the mistake of talking too much about the deficiencies of our opponents and not enough about the merits of our own candidates. I have never again fallen into that error.”