Kai Ryssdal: It’s Wednesday, that time of the week again. The debate over the debt ceiling is on temporary hiatus, thanks to the Congressional spring recess. But our commentator Amity Shlaes weighed in this week with a historical perspective: Calvin Coolidge and how he ran a surplus while managing to cut spending and taxes.
A lot of you wrote to say, wait a sec, this guy left office in 1929 — the phrase “Great Depression” mean anything to you? Here’s Brian Werner of Kansas City.
Brian Werner: This is like claiming that a pilot has a clean record because he jumped out of the plane before it crashed.
But Jonathan Lovelace of Milan, Mich., came to the defense of the 30th president.
Jonathan Lovelace: It was Hoover’s interventions, attempts to limit the damage and stimulate a recovery, that made what could have been a minor recession a depression. And then Roosevelt’s programs kept it going until the war. Coolidge’s hands-off policies might have started the downturn, but Hoover’s — and especially Roosevelt’s — hands-on policies made it into the Great Depression.
Last week was a year since the BP oil spill in the Gulf Coast. Beth Larson of Washington D.C. listened to commentator and chef Susan Spicer reflect on what’s changed for her since then. Larson says she enjoyed her visit to Spicer’s New Orleans restaurant, but she senses a contradiction in the chef’s views on how the U.S. responded to the spill.
Beth Larson: On the one hand, she praised “national agencies” for testing food and making her customers confident of its safety. On the other hand, she said she was disappointed in the “government response.” So now I’m disappointed that this world-class chef turns out to be so typical in her misunderstanding of what her national government actually does for her.
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