Excerpts of the President's News Conference
I am having the usual experience with a good many members of the House and the Senate that are returning to Washington. They are all interested in some plan that calls for a very considerable expenditure of public money. Most of them are projects that have a great deal of merit, but a great many of them are projects that can't be taken up at the present time. I am exceedingly interested in reducing as fast as we can, and at the same time maintaining a reasonable rate of taxation, the national debt. That would constitute, if it could be retired, the very largest internal improvement that it would be possible to conceive. The benefits that would accrue from it to the nation would exceed those of any other project. In fact, it would be so large that the Government could afford to pay each year the entire damages that accrued from the flood and at the same time save money. I am not suggesting that that should be done. I am just giving you an illustration, as I understand that the outside estimate of the damages that accrued from the Mississippi flood this year are not so much as the annual charges at the present time of interest necessary to pay what is required on the national debt. I have spoken of it many times in its military aspect. While I am in favor of very generous provisions for national defense, the weakest place in the line of national defense is at present the large debt of the country. So that I am trying to indicate that in my view the necessity of retiring that debt is the pre-dominant necessity of the country, in an orderly way of course, and with a reasonable rate of taxation. But the burden that it entails and the menace that it constitutes are both large and grave. We made a wonderful beginning on it. Perhaps one of the greatest satisfactions of my administration lies in the very marked reduction of the national debt since I have been President.
Source: "The Talkative President: The Off-the-Record Press Conferences of Calvin Coolidge". eds. Howard H. Quint & Robert H. Ferrell. The University Massachusetts Press. 1964.
Calvin Coolidge, Excerpts of the President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/349211