America has avoided driving off the fiscal cliff in the past

Editor:

We are reminded several times daily that a fiscal cliff looms threateningly in our future. There are two opposing views about the way to avert disaster. Anybody with a reasonable degree of mastery of his mental faculties who was driving a car speeding toward a cliff should be concerned with finding a way to apply the brakes rather than seeking to locate more gas to put in the vehicle.

Now here’s something worth the consideration of the folks in Foggy Bottom on the Potomac. I recently read the following in Paul Johnson’s excellent book A History of the American People: “(President ) Harding (elected 1920) inherited from the comatose Wilson regime one of the sharpest recessions in American history. By July 1921 it was all over and the economy was booming again.

Harding and (treasury secretary) Mellon had done nothing except cut government expenditure by a huge 40 percent from Wilson’s peacetime level, the last time a major industrial power treated a recession by classic laissez-faire methods, allowing wages to fall to their natural level. Benjamin Anderson of Chase Manhattan was later to call it ‘our last natural recovery to full employment’”

Oh, for more Hardings and Mellons in government!

Wiliam McChesney

New Galilee, Pa.

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