Amity Shlaes on Outsider Coolidge and Actual Budget Cutting in Washington

circa 1925: Calvin Coolidge, (1872 - 1933), the 30th President of the United States of America. (Photo by
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Washington, DC

Author and columnist Amity Shlaes was a guest today on Breitbart News Daily, discussing her work and thoughts relevant to reining in big government and spending in the contemporary era.

A well known scholar and writer, Shlaes has a particular interest in former President Calvin Coolidge, who, as Shlaes pointed out today, actually left behind a smaller budget when he exited the Oval Office than when he arrived in Washington several years earlier.

“This capacity to say no does exist … you don’t have to go all the way back to Thomas Jefferson, or George Washington to find it,” said Shlaes, while pointing out that today’s Washington “is the city of yes.”

Shlaes, author of The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression and New York Times best seller, Coolidge, among others, pointed out how difficult the challenges must have been for Coolidge.

Among many decisions, his cost cutting impacted funds for veterans and farmers after World War I and at a time when the a very large percentage of Americans farmed. Referring to interest groups,  Shlaes said, we’re in “an era of interests, not individuals. And we see it not just in the government but on the campuses.” She also compared life on Capitol Hill and politicians in D.C. to that of freshmen in college.

“In Coolidge’s day, there were strong progressive forces who wanted to expand the budget,” Shlaes told host Stephen K. Bannon. “Yet, he managed to say no and didn’t always have Congress with him because his own party, of course the GOP, included plenty of progressives.”

Shlaes describes Coolidge as, fundamentally, the outsider he was and remained, despite his years in Washington. That comparison doesn’t seem lost today given the current field of Republicans running for the party’s nomination and how potential voters seem to be reacting to insiders versus outsides in the polls.

Turning the culture of big government and runaway spending around won’t be easy but, to that end, Shlaes created The Coolidge, a four-year, full ride scholarship to any accredited college in the U.S. It’s an academic merit scholarship for students interested in Coolidge, his policies and humility. Applicants apply in their junior year.

The entire interview, in which Shlaes discusses both Coolidge and the scholarship can be heard in full below.