From 1929 to 1932 federal spending increased by 50% in nominal terms, doubled in real terms, tripled relative to national income. Judged by that measure, Herbert Hoover makes Barack Obama look like a fiscal conservative.
….. we do have an example of a Republican president who responded to a surge in unemployment in the way [many people] think Hoover did. From 1920 to 1921, unemployment rose from 5.2% to 11.7%, almost as sharp an increase as from 1930 to 1931.
[Warren] Harding responded by sharply cutting spending. By 1922, federal expenditure relative to national income had dropped almost fifty percent.
And the unemployment rate was back down to 2.4%.