Hoover’s Deficits

Regarding the March 12 letter “It’s Time to Reject National Debt Fear-Mongering”: Nathaniel Brodsky claimed that President Herbert Hoover made “attempts to shrink” the national debt that “intensified the Great Depression.” But Hoover increased the national debt. Although he inherited a budget surplus from his predecessor, he soon created a deficit. The budget deficit grew to more than half the size of the federal budget by the time he lost his bid for re-election in 1932.

Hoover paid lip service to a balanced budget but did not practice what he preached. Spending rose from $3.1 billion in 1929, when Hoover took office, to $4.6 billion in 1933, when he left office. The budget deficit grew to $2.7 billion in 1932 and $2.6 billion in 1933.

What intensified the Depression was not spending cuts, but rather Hoover’s signing the Smoot-Hawley Tariff. That tariff increase ignited a ruinous trade war that wiped out American exports.