Kill Bad Bills

February 20, 2014

The more legislation, the better.

That’s the attitude of most Americans these days. After all, it’s not uncommon to hear lawmakers get criticized for “doing nothing.” But Coolidge viewed doing nothing as a virtue – at least when it came to legislating.

As early as 1910, the Massachusetts politician started to voice concerns about a surfeit of laws. This shows in a letter the younger Coolidge wrote his father John, who was a new senator in Vermont. “It is much more important to kill bad bills than to pass good ones,” the 38-year old Coolidge counseled his 65-year old father.

Later, Coolidge raised the point again: “Don’t hurry to legislate,” he told fellow lawmakers when he became president of the Massachusetts senate.

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