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The Do Nothing President

July 28, 2012

Calvin Coolidge was one of the last of the 19th Century Style of Presidents.  During his term in the 1920s we saw the spread of radio, the birth of ‘talking pictures’ and the rapid growth of commercial aviation. Coolidge spoke out against speculative spending, warned about improper banking procedures, and was quite adamant that eventually Wall Street would fall like a house of cards.

But he was known as the “Do Nothing” president because he preferred to leave things alone and let congress and business run the country.  Here is what he did do:

In 1924, Coolidge signed the Indian Citizenship Act, which granted full U.S. citizenship to all American Indians, while permitting them to retain tribal land and cultural rights.

Congress passed the Revenue Act of 1924, which reduced Income Tax rates and eliminated all Income Taxation for some two million people.

Coolidge signed the Radio Act of 1927, which assigned regulation of radio to the newly created Federal Radio Commission.

During Coolidge’s presidency the United States experienced the period of rapid economic growth known as the “Roaring Twenties” when a hands off approach allowed the private sector to run amok and allowed us to spend beyond our means. BUT COOLIDGE DID NOTHING – – – he did not see it as the Presidents’ role to take a proactive stance. It was the job of congress and if they muffed it that was their fault not his. He might counsel but he would not force people to act on his advice. Coolidge clung to the notion that the nation’s top executive was simply to do the job of an executive. Expected to execute the Will of the People as expressed by their elected Representatives, The Congress. The Roaring Twenties was a great time to live in but it all came crashing down in October 1929 when reality set in.

Sound familiar?  Calvin Coolidge, The Do Nothing President, would NOT be the kind of leader we need in 2012.

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