Emmett Tyrrell

The unemployment rate that was at 5.7 million in July 1921 had dropped to 1.8 million. Manufacturing had climbed by a third since 1921, and iron and steel production had doubled. Finally the revenue acts of 1921, 1924, and 1928 represented strong growth despite tax reduction. Something was working.

Coolidge's secretary of the treasury, Andrew Mellon, called it "scientific taxation." Today we would call his tax plan supply-side economics. By cutting marginal tax rates, Coolidge and Mellon goaded economic activity and raised tax revenue. Yet, through all the years of his presidency, Coolidge, along with his secretary of the treasury Mellon, had to fight off big spenders -- not only the Democrats but also those Republicans infected with a kind of influenza for Big Government called progressivism. There were great projects such as the hydroelectric project called Muscle Shoals, and there were noble gestures such as the veterans' pensions that kept the pressure on the Administration to spend and tax and burst the budget.

Cal resisted most of these impulses with his pocket veto and fifty vetoes, but it wore him down. In 1927, he cryptically signed a message to the world: "I do not choose to run for President in Nineteen Twenty-Eight." Hoover ran and returned the progressive impulse to Washington.

So, Ms. Shlaes, I was wrong. Coolidge was a great man but not because of his napping. He accomplished what he accomplished by cutting taxes and cutting budgets. It took a lot of energy, and it took fortitude.


Emmett Tyrrell

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator and co-author of Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House.
 
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