Excerpts of the President's News Conference
Except what I have seen in the press, nothing has come to me relative to the report that the United States Chamber of Commerce is interesting itself in the matter of tax reduction. I assume that practically everyone that pays taxes is interested in having their taxes reduced as fast as that can consistently be done. I do not mean that they are taking a selfish attitude about it. Most of them realize that we have not yet paid off the expenses of the war and the spirit among the taxpayers of this country is exceedingly fine and patriotic in their mani-festation to do their part towards paying off the debt and bearing the burdens that were incident to the prosecution of the war. I have said a great deal about tax reduction, of course, since I have been President, but this always has to be borne in mind—that tax reduction is to be secured only as the result of economy. There are all kinds of organizations over the country that are promoting plans, most of them have a very great deal of merit, that involve the expenditure of large sums of money. Most of them are for things that ultimately will be done by our country. But the present debt of the United States is about $18,000,000,000, so that when anyone might think that because the war is over, therefore we ought not to have anything what might be designated as war taxes, of course entertaining such belief without giving any due consideration to the fact that so far as paying for the war is concerned it is only about half over. While I am exceedingly interested in having tax reduction, as I say, it can only be brought about as a result of economy, and therefore it seems to me that the Chamber of Commerce and all others that are interested in tax reduction ought to be first of all bending their energies to see that no unwise expenditures are authorized by the Government and that every possible effort is put forth to keep our expenditures down, and pay off our debt, so that we can have tax reduction. The suggestion here is that the Chamber thinks we might have a reduction of $350,000,000 or $400,000,000. I haven't received the figures from the Treasury, but it is my offhand opinion that any such reduction as that would be very certain to involve a deficit, and that it would not be wise to make a reduction that was anywhere near as large as that. But I wouldn't want to go on record as making any estimate now of the amount that taxes can be reduced. In order to find that out we shall have to have the estimates of the Treasury as to the income and the estimates of the Bureau of the Budget as to the probable expenditures. Since I have been President, of course, we have entered into a good many new expenditures. I think the largest annual item is probably represented in the cost of the adjusted compensation. The last Congress increased pensions and relief to go to all the veterans and their dependents some $68,000,000 a year. That is a large item, of course. And we have been able to meet these large increases by absorbing them through economies in other directions.
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/349213