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Excerpts of the President's News Conference

January 06, 1925

Here is a suggestion about a bill that has been introduced authorizing Cabinet members and other departmental heads to participate in debates on the floor of the House and Senate. I haven't any mature judgment about that. I should say it would depend mostly on whether the House and Senate wanted to have Cabinet members come on the floor, or department heads, and debate questions. It is a step, of course, toward the parliamentary form of government. That is a form of government that is well recognized and of course of great maturity on account of the policy of the English speaking people. Our own notion has been to keep somewhat separate the executive department and the legislative department. That can't be done in its entirety, but that is the policy that has been laid down in this country. There are a great many good points about it. Department heads and Cabinet members of course are constantly before the committees of the House and Senate, which gives them access to the members of the Congress and gives the Congress access to all the information that they have. Now, whether it would be expected that they would go on the floor and take positions in opposition to the reports of committees or not, I do not know. Many questions would come up, of course, in case the executive branch was of one party and Congress of another party, and there would be a very interesting situation. Whether, then, the Congress would want to invite the representatives of the opposition party to come on the floor, I can't tell. These are just offhand thoughts that come to me. It is an interesting subject, but I can't give an offhand opinion of it that is of any value. My attitude towards it is my general attitude toward all legislation. When a proposal of this kind is made it becomes the business of the committee to which it is referred to consider it and hear the evidence, and try to decide in accordance with the evidence and their own judgment about it. That is an opportunity that I don't have a chance to participate in much at this time. I am so constantly employed otherwise that I don't have a chance to call in people of various and divergent views and get the benefit of their information, so that I have to take a shot at these things somewhat on the wing. If the Congress wanted to do this, I don't see any reason why I should oppose it. On the other hand, if the Congress made up their mind that it was something in which they did not want to engage, I shouldn't have the slightest disposition to advocate it.

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We have got so many regulatory laws already that in general I feel that we would be just as well off if we didn't have any more. I want to give people all the freedom of action that is possible for them to have, but when it is obvious that the freedom of action is abused, why of course someone is going to come along and take that freedom of action away. That follows inevitably and certainly, and can't be prevented. Oftentimes, as a result, many people that are entirely innocent of any wrongdoing or wrong intentions are injured as a result. It is probable that some of our railroads could have been better off, if we hadn't had so much railroad legislation. But the general condition warranted it, and apparently it was necessary to impose it. Now, it is probable that a large number of owners of real estate in the District that has been built for the purpose of rental are conducting their business in a perfectly legitimate way, and it will be a hardship to put them under regulation. But if there are abuses, there is no other way in which remedy can be applied, and we shall have to adopt something of that kind. I feel that a good deal can be done by real estate men and the banks and loan associations, if they will take hold of this situation themselves and apply the remedy to it that I think they can apply. That isn't always a pleasant operation, to go and tell someone he is doing something wrong and to stop, and it isn't a pleasant operation for the President to suggest to the Congress that people are engaged in wrong practices and it ought to be stopped by legislation. I am not making any criticism of the banks in general, or the real estate interests here, for not being able to apply that remedy. I think perhaps they can help, if they will, through their organization. It may be that something can be worked out that way. Now, I have only one desire here, which has been constant and uniform, and that is to find out what the real abuses are and apply any reasonable remedy. . . .

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There is nothing I can say in relation to a new arms conference. It has no relationship, so far as I can see, to any discussion about our debts. It is held up at the present time, as I have already indicated, on account of the proposal that is pending to have a conference on that subject under the patronage of the League of Nations.

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

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