Robert Murphy debunks the myth that Hoover plunged the U.S. into the Great Depression by refusing to intervene in the economy. As he explains, Hoover had the exact same response as Bush/Obama:
Let’s first set the record straight on Herbert Hoover’s fiscal policies. Contrary to what you have heard and read over the last year, Hoover behaved as a textbook Keynesian after the stock-market crash. He immediately cut income tax rates by one percentage point (applicable to the 1929 tax year) and began ratcheting up federal spending, increasing it 42 percent from fiscal year (FY) 1930 to FY 1932.
But to truly appreciate Hoover’s Keynesian bona fides, we must realize that this enormous jump in spending occurred amidst a collapse in tax receipts, due both to the decline in economic activity as well as the price deflation of the early 1930s. This combination led to unprecedented peacetime deficits under the Hoover administration — something FDR railed against during the 1932 campaign!
How big were Hoover’s deficits? Well, his predecessor Calvin Coolidge had run a budget surplusevery single year of his own presidency, and he held the federal budget roughly constant despite the roaring prosperity (and surging tax receipts) of the 1920s. In contrast to Coolidge — who was a true small-government president — Herbert Hoover managed to turn his initial $700 million surplus into a $2.6 billion deficit by 1932.
It’s true, that doesn’t sound like a big number today; Henry Paulson handed out more to bankers by breakfast. But keep in mind that Hoover’s $2.6 billion deficit occurred because he spent $4.6 billion while only taking in $2 billion in tax receipts. Thus, as a percentage of the overall budget, the 1932 deficit was astounding — it would translate into a $3.3 trillion deficit in 2007 (instead of the actual deficit of $162 billion that year).
Read the entire thing here.