July 9, 2011

MEGAN MCARDLE CORRECTS JAMES FALLOWS: Herbert Hoover Was No Budget Cutter.

Hoover did raise taxes on high earners quite a bit in 1932, and perhaps this is what my colleague is thinking of–though as this did not produce any immediately noticeable increase in tax revenue, it’s hard to say how much of a fiscal contraction this actually represented. (Even if it were, outside of the odd Cato paper, Hoover’s name is never invoked to warn against the mortal dangers of what he actually did: raised taxes on rich people in the middle of a recession.)

Instead, he is associated in the public mind with slashing spending. But there doesn’t seem to be any question that Herbert Hoover raised both spending and government deficits by rather a lot, and quite bravely considering that his critics–a group led by a fellow named Franklin Delano Roosevelt–“accused the president of ‘reckless and extravagant’ spending, of thinking ‘that we ought to center control of everything in Washington as rapidly as possible,’ and of presiding over ‘the greatest spending administration in peacetime in all of history.’ Roosevelt’s running mate, John Nance Garner, charged that Hoover was ‘leading the country down the path of socialism.’

So he was kind of a 1930s Barack Obama.

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