Peggy Noonan on Daniels-as-Coolidge

Has Peggy Noonan been reading my blog? I suppose it’s just an instance of great minds thinking alike (said he, modestly). At any rate, former Reagan speechwriter, author, and columnist Peggy Noonan does make the Coolidge-Daniels link I ventured recently, singling out recent speeches by governors Mitch Daniels and Chris Christie as particularly important and memorable.

We’ll have to wait and see if all this is mere talk with no substance. But I feel the rising popularity of “tough love” governors such as Daniels, Christie, and now apparently Wisconsin’s Walker may be an indication that a sea change in the direction of more austerity is on its way.

Update: Michael Gerson at the Washington Post also discovers a Coolidge-like coolness about Mitch Daniels 🙂

Pecking away at waste and extravagance

I have a sense that after decades of budgetary profligacy, America may be in the mood for more economy and efficiency in government, exemplified by leaders such as Governors Mitch Daniels and Chris Christie who are showing an almost Coolidgean willingness to take on spending excesses.

I haven’t tallied up the numbers and don’t know whether our situation is similar to, or possibly even exceeds, the fiscal calamity America found itself in after World War I caused an almost 20-fold increase in the national debt. In other posts I have begun to report on the efforts by presidents Harding and Coolidge, and their respective Directors of the Budget, to instill a sense of purpose and urgency at all levels of the federal bureaucracy but can’t resist adding a little item on General Lord, second Director of the Budget, taken from the book The Office of Management and Budget and the Presidency, 1921 – 1979, by Larry Berman:

Lord actually checked employees’ desks for excessive use of official stationery, paper clips, and other government supplies. He also engaged in such quaint-sounding ploys as establishing a “Two Per Cent Club” for agency heads who trimmed that amount off their estimates, a “One Per Cent Club” reserved for the less efficient, and the “Loyal Order of Woodpeckers,” whose motto read: “All hail to the Loyal Order of Woodpeckers, whose persistent tapping away at waste will make cheerful music in government offices and workshops the coming year.”

Quaint as this may sound to the author of those lines, I can’t help but feel that it would be nice to hear that tap-tap-tapping sound emanate from government offices today – they sure would have their work cut out for them!

Please see also this more substantial post on the Business Organization of the Government.