Beltway Bozos: FDR's New Deal Made Great Depression Worse

Oh, to live in that happy place where Fox News resides: where the sun shone out of Ronald Reagan's behind, and FDR, not Hitler, was the real villain

Oh, to live in that happy place where Fox News resides: where the sun shone out of Ronald Reagan's behind, and FDR, not Hitler, was the real villain of his time...

After Wise Men Mort Kondracke and Fred Barnes pull their chin hairs and speak in somber tones about how Obama's economic stimulus package will actually hurt the economy - just like FDR's New Deal did - they wax rhapsodic over Reaganomics. (After tsk-tsking about unions quite possibly wrecking the economy under Obama, of course.)

I, too, have fond memories of Reaganomics. Why, until Reagan waved his magic wand, our unemployment checks weren't even taxed! I was absolutely thrilled to be able to make that sacrifice to fund tax cuts for the wealthy:

Another Reagan proposal that came in for criticism was the plan to tax all unemployment compensation.

[...] "What he's doing is taxing something to a person who is under a rough time to begin with," noted Herbert Paul, a New York tax lawyer. "But you don't seem to have a strong lobby group to push to eliminate that, so I think it may well stick."

And stick it did. Why, thanks to Reagan's Tax Reform Act of 1986, I only recently finished paying the taxes (and interest) due on unemployment income from 2001 - and here I am, unemployed again, thanks to yet another Republican-sponsored economic crash.

But I digress. The fact is, facts simply aren't relevant to Republicans, since their economic views and objects of veneration are more appropriate to a religious cult than intellectual rigor. (You might want to get Will Bunch's new book for a look at this phenomena - and why it's so important.)

I'm not going to pick apart the specifics of everything Morton Kondracke and Fred Barnes said, because they're only interchangeable players in the larger conservative game plan. We've seen just about every possible Republican bobblehead spouting this same nonsense in the past few weeks, fresh off the RNC talking-points fax machine.

Yes, faced with a massive worldwide economic crisis that threatens our entire society, the GOP response is ... to manufacture a meme attacking the only policies that can possibly fix things. They are more than willing to throw the country under the policy bus if it means they can lay the foundation for a political comeback.

"Yeah, yeah, you people are out of work and companies are collapsing. But what about our needs?"

Republicans are so used to cynically gaming the system, it doesn't even occur to them that the obvious path to political rehabilitation is to put the country's interests ahead of their own. But then, no one ever said True Believers were logical.

New York Times economic writer Daniel Gross debunks the wingnut mythology here:

It was only with the passage of New Deal efforts--the SEC, the FDIC, the FSLIC--that the mechanisms of private capital began to kick back into gear. Don't take it from me. Take it from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who wrote the following in Essays on the Great Depression: "Only with the New Deal's rehabilitation of the financial system in 1933-35 did the economy begin its slow emergence from the Great Depression."...

The argument that the New Deal's efforts "perhaps had prolonged, the Depression," is a canard. One would be very hard-pressed to find a serious professional historian--I mean a serious historian, not a think-tank wanker, not an economist, not a journalist--who believes that the New Deal prolonged the Depression. (emphasis added)

It galls them that there's simply no factual way to argue that Republicans are good for the economy - so they simply make things up.

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