IF CALVIN COOLIDGE prided himself on one single aspect of his execution of the presidency, it was his policy of fiscal economy. "I favor the policy of economy," he declared, "not because I wish to save money, but because I wish to save people." Coolidge balanced the budget and obtained a surplus. As day after day the President sat in his White House office, feet on the desk and cigar in mouth, looking over piles of reports, he read fiscal papers with an especially sharp eye. He considered government economy in terms of personal economy -- a government debt was analogous to a private debt. In Coolidge's day there was none of the intricate calculation that would later grace government account-keeping, whereby the government debt became subject to management and in fact became a positive good, indeed a vital necessity for the nation's economic well-being. To Coolidge the debt was an unadulterated debit, an evil, something to be rid of as soon as possible. Retiring the debt, he said, was "the predominant necessity of the country." By economizing in government he could accumulate a surplus, throw it into the sinking fund, perhaps cut taxes. The President produced one of his most characteristic, if banal, epigrams in this regard: "Economy," he announced in his inaugural address, "is idealism in its most practical form."
January 27, 1925
I haven't any specific plan for the reduction of personnel in the clerical forces of the District of Columbia. I think in the last four years