Herbert Hoover: Nothing is more important than balancing the budget with the least increase in taxes

The following is a March 1932 statement by then US President Herbert Hoover about the growing US deficit. As I indicated in previous posts on Hoover’s travails, the President earnestly wanted to balance the budget. Hoover’s were not empty words (see Herbert Hoover: White House Statement on Federal Expenditures, June 1931 and Herbert Hoover: 1932 Special Message to Congress Proposing Balanced Budget). However, as bank failures mounted and credit growth not only waned but turned into massive credit contraction, the fuel for GDP growth was expunged and revenues evaporated.

(emphasis added)

"The whole of the administrative officials are cooperating with the special Economy Committee appointed by the House of Representatives in the drive to bring about further drastic economies in Federal expenditure.

"You will recollect that the budget sent to Congress represented reductions in expenditures for the next fiscal year of about $365 million below the present fiscal year. The House Appropriations Committee has reduced the amounts of bills so far reported out by about $112 million. Of this, however, between 60 and 70 million is a deferment until Congress meets next December when they will be compelled to meet positive obligations by deficiency bills. To this extent, therefore, the reductions do not help next year’s expenditures.

"In order to meet the requirements of the Ways and Means Committee that expenditures must be reduced by $125 million in order to balance the budget, it is necessary that further cuts be made. There is very little room left for reductions by administrative action and the House Appropriations Committee has passed upon the major supply bills except the Army and Navy. Further economies must be brought about by authorization of Congress, either by reorganization of the Federal machinery or change in the legal requirements as to expenditure by the various services.

"The Director of Veterans’ Affairs has proposed to the special House Committee on Economy some changes in the laws relating to pensions and other allowances which would produce economies of between 50 and 60 millions per annum. The Postmaster General is placing before the committee changes in the legal requirements of Post Office expenditures. The Secretary of Agriculture has suggested changes in the law requiring expenditures in the Department of Agriculture, and the other departments are engaged in preparation of similar drastic recommendations.

"I believe the Committee on Economy, through administrative reorganization and such methods as I have mentioned, will be able to find a large area of economy.

"Nothing is more important than balancing the budget with the least increase in taxes. The Federal Government should be in such position that it will need issue no securities which increase the public debt after the beginning of the next fiscal year, July 1. That is vital to the still further promotion of employment and agriculture. It gives positive assurance to business and industry that the Government will keep out of the money market and allow industry and agriculture to borrow the monies required for the conduct of business. I cannot overemphasize the importance of the able nonpartisan effort being made by the Ways and Means Committee and the Economy Committee of the House whose work are complementary to each other."

Source: Herbert Hoover: Statement on Efforts to Balance the Budget – The American Presidency Project

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