Obama and FDR: The Politics of Low Expectations

FDR is undisputedly one of the greatest American Presidents, but the greatness of the Great Depression was greater than the greatness of FDR.

Year Unemployment (% labor force)

1933 24.9
1934 21.7
1935 20.1
1936 16.9
1937 14.3
1938 19.0
1939 17.2
1940 14.6
1941 9.9

FDR canceled almost half the New Deal's increase in employment with his reactionary balanced budget in 1937, and it wasn't until the United States began tooling up for WWII that employment finally climbed out of what anybody would call a deep depression.

Center-right Democrats are busy creating low expectations for their new best friend Barack Obama, with nostalgic references to <span class="caps">FDR </span>and all the "radical" people and programs associated with the New Deal.

"Maybe Obama won't be as "radical" as <span class="caps">FDR, </span>but times have changed, he's the best we could hope for now, " and so on.

I supported Dennis Kucinich in the Democratic primaries primarily because I was afraid of a full-scale economic collapse, and because Dennis Kucinich isn't the sort of Democrat who gives away more money to speculators at failing banks than the most money Obama is even considering for economic recovery.

Wouldn't it be lovely if we could somehow recover that $850 billion give-away that Obama supported and Kucinich opposed?

What did we the public get for all that money? Did it turn around the stock market.


Did it ease the flow of credit?


We got nothing, and Congressional Democrats like Obama didn't even bother to ask where that mountain of money was going before they kissed it goodbye.

Paulson knows best! Let him decide!

Now Obama has an economic team that Hank Paulson could also play for, if he hadn't been drafted by Bush, and center-right Democrats and the center-right media are conditioning us to expect less from Obama than FDR.

But remember, out of all those millions of people who were out of work in 1933...

75% of them were still out of work five years later.


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