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RightNation.US: Is Obama's Record Worse Than FDR's? - RightNation.US

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Conrad Black at National Review thinks so:


Everyone, including most Democrats, agrees that this president can’t run on his record, but that is exactly what FDR did in 1936. There are fewer employed people in the United States now than there were when this administration entered office, despite its racking up cumulative federal budget deficits equal to six times the country’s money supply in January 2009.

“Let’s look at the record,” as Roosevelt’s distinguished predecessor as governor of New York and Democratic presidential nominee, Alfred E. Smith, used to say. The economic problems that greeted the incoming administration in 2009 were risible compared with the crisis that awaited Roosevelt in 1933. The unemployment rate was then about 30 percent, not the still-shocking 25 percent that Amity and her claque try to confine it to, and there was no direct relief for the unemployed. They could beg, steal, or starve.

It's an intriguing argument, at least superficially. The problem is that Black is factually incorrect. There were relief programs for the unemployed. Hoover, though he opposed direct relief at the federal level, authorized money for states to use for that purpose. We can argue over the unemployment rate, but I find it a bit silly to quibble over 30% versus 25%.

He then goes on to list all the calamities of the Great Depression, arguing that there's no comparing it to those of 2008 and 2009. He writes that to do so would be "unrigorous". I don't know who actually compared the two recessions as if they were close, but there are plenty of people who say things like "worst unemployment since the Great Depression". That's not a side by side comparison, by the way. It doesn't have to be as bad as the Great Depression to be the worst since the Great Depression. I think he's confusing the two.

He really gets into trouble when he credits FDR's policies for putting people back to work. What FDR did, as his advisers will later admit, was continue Hoover's programs only with bigger budgets and broader goals. The fact of the matter is, as Thomas Sowell is fond of citing, the economy was already trying to bounce back under Hoover, but the massive government interventions he undertook stopped it in its tracks. Black makes not mention of these interventions. By the Time FDR, who ran against Hoover's interventions if you remember, came to office, the economy was starting another recovery. Economic recoveries usually mirror their declines. If it's a steep decline, the recovery is usually steep. So, it's completely NORMAL for an unemployment rate to improve at a rate similar to the rate it worsened.

What's not normal is when that rate stops improving to the point where we get back to full employment. That't where both Hoover and FDR screwed up and that's why Obama is screwing up today. He's not letting the economy improve naturally.

Black goes on to make one good point. Many historians compare our unemployment rate through the 1930s to those of Germany, the UK and France, citing that their economies seemed to bounce back much quicker than ours. Black notes, rightly, that those countries started gearing up for war earlier than we did. Fair enough. He also leaves out the fact that those economies had already absorbed the collectivist interventions of years past, at the expense of American-like growth and prosperity, and were healing themselves. We were just getting started on European style interventions.

Essentially what Black is doing is throwing Obama under the bus in order to protect his precious FDR. Black is an FDR hagiographer if anybody is one. It's still amazing, though, how guys like him can rattle off all the programs and interventions that can easily be shown to make employment more expensive and incentives more perverse and not see how they prolonged the Great Depression.

Still, I'll go along with him if he wants to put Obama in the same category as FDR. Both were and have been disasters.

My Mind is Clean

2 Comments On This Entry

Yep, it's worse, which means the media will spend the next 4 years preparing for his canonization if he wins *cough*steals*cough another election.
Biggest difference between Roosevelt and Obama is that Roosevelt's projects were, in fact, "shovel ready".
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