Tax Analysts Blog

When Was the Last Time a Politician Really Leveled with the American People?

Posted on Aug 9, 2010

We take it for granted these days that politicians will always suck up to voters. Even appointed officials feel compelled to flatter the electorate. But once upon a time, political leaders felt a bit freer to speak their minds. Consider the words of U.S. Treasury Secretary Ogden Mills in 1931, trying to explain why taxes were high and going higher:

    Of course, the people are in large measure themselves to blame. They have not only tolerated but given encouragement to an ever-expanding cost of government. The spenders were the ones elected to office; and bond issues voted with cheerful alacrity.
Of course, Mills lost his job a few months later, when voters decided that he -- and his boss, President Herbert Hoover -- deserved the real blame for big government. Or bad government. Or something.

One thing's for sure, though: voters get the last word. So much for speaking truth to power.

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