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The Few and the Proud
A past U.S. president who advocated for economic freedom
Calvin Coolidge, 30th president of the United States, believed individuals know best how to run their own affairs and upheld this conviction throughout his term. President Coolidge empowered the American people, strengthening individual rights rather than expanding the size and scope of government. Consequently, the private sector thrived and prosperity followed.
“The chief business of the American people is business.” -Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the United States of America (1923-1929)
Calvin Coolidge initially served as vice president under Warren G. Harding, and assumed the U.S. Presidency after Harding’s sudden death in 1923. The Harding -Coolidge administration began its term in the midst of an economic depression. U.S. unemployment sat at 12 percent, taxes were high and government spending was driving-up debt. In the face of the economic turmoil, both as vice president and later on as president, Coolidge worked to restrain the size and scope of the federal government by cutting taxes, subsidies and spending, thereby increasing economic freedom.
Calvin’s Three “R”s
- Coolidge implemented sweeping tax cuts, most notably by decreasing the income tax rate from 73 percent to 25 percent according to IRS numbers.
- By reducing taxes, Coolidge helped usher in a decade of prosperity that saw the economy grow at an impressive average rate of 4.7 percent. Furthermore, from 1923-1929, as businesses grew they began to hire workers, driving down unemployment.
Resisted Unfair Farm Subsidies
- Coolidge twice vetoed the McNary-Haugen Bill, which would have required the federal government to buy-up surplus crops from farmers. This bill would have been a classic example of government unfairly propping-up a struggling industry. Coolidge knew societies prosper when individuals profit based on value they create, not when the government chooses the winners and the losers.
Refused to Increase Federal Spending
- Coolidge worked hard to limit federal spending. Including his time as vice president, Coolidge managed to cut federal expenditures in half from its post-World War I high. For all six years of his presidency, he kept the annual growth in government spending to a little over $3 million and, in 1925-1926 government spending grew less than 1 percent. No president since Calvin Coolidge has managed to keep government growth below 1 percent with the exception of the demobilization following World War II.
Calvin Coolidge strove to increase economic freedom for all Americans, and thanks to his commitment to economic freedom, America flourished during his presidency.