Hoover Didn’t Cut Spending

Most people, including Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson, believe that Herbert Hoover’s laissez-faire budget cuts worsened the Great Depression. I have a letter in today’s paper pointing out that that isn’t true:

Harold Meyerson’s Feb. 27 op-ed column, “The perils of austerity,” claimed that Herbert Hoover cut spending. Hoover actually increased nominal spending by 48 percent in just four years. When he took office, the federal budget was $3.1 billion. His last budget, fiscal 1933, was $4.6 billion. Since there was roughly 10 percent annual deflation during that time, Hoover doubled federal spending in real terms. Even inside the Beltway, that does not qualify as a cut, let alone austerity. Mr. Meyerson should look elsewhere for arguments against sequestration.

Ryan Young, Washington
The writer is a fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

For more on how Hoover’s reputation is almost exactly opposite the policies he actually enacted, see Steve Horwitz’s excellent paper, “Herbert Hoover: Father of the New Deal.”