Could be, definitely could be. I’m currently reading Jonathan Alter’s The Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope, so this is more grist for the mill.
[Krugman via Kevin Drum]
Franklin Delano Obama? [NY Times]
Suddenly, everything old is New Deal again. Reagan is out; F.D.R. is in. Still, how much guidance does the Roosevelt era really offer for today’s world?
The answer is, a lot. But Barack Obama should learn from F.D.R.’s failures as well as from his achievements: the truth is that the New Deal wasn’t as successful in the short run as it was in the long run. And the reason for F.D.R.’s limited short-run success, which almost undid his whole program, was the fact that his economic policies were too cautious. (
What saved the economy, and the New Deal, was the enormous public works project known as World War II, which finally provided a fiscal stimulus adequate to the economy’s needs.
This history offers important lessons for the incoming administration.
The political lesson is that economic missteps can quickly undermine an electoral mandate. Democrats won big last week — but they won even bigger in 1936, only to see their gains evaporate after the recession of 1937-38. Americans don’t expect instant economic results from the incoming administration, but they do expect results, and Democrats’ euphoria will be short-lived if they don’t deliver an economic recovery.
The economic lesson is the importance of doing enough. F.D.R. thought he was being prudent by reining in his spending plans; in reality, he was taking big risks with the economy and with his legacy. My advice to the Obama people is to figure out how much help they think the economy needs, then add 50 percent. It’s much better, in a depressed economy, to err on the side of too much stimulus than on the side of too little.
In short, Mr. Obama’s chances of leading a new New Deal depend largely on whether his short-run economic plans are sufficiently bold. Progressives can only hope that he has the necessary audacity.
So, some audacity, please. Perhaps a 10-year commitment (AKA, “Apollo project”) to energy self sufficiency and single-payer health care. Gear up that manufacturing sector and the educational system. We’re not going to crack the nut on affordable active solar, reliable affordable battery tech for vehicles and the various other things that populate my little fantasy.
We have to gear up education for research and design (hard sciences and engineering), fabrication and installation (workers idled by the burst housing bubble and auto industry lethargy), distribution, etc., to meet these goals.
Single payer health care will finally allow people to create more small, independent start-ups than we can currently imagine. Once free to abandon unfulfilling and underemployed positions because they, “can’t lose the benefits.” The health care necessity has been a shackle on American workers — regardless of the color of their collars — for far too long. If everyone has coverage, there goes one more obstacle to finding your own part of the American Dream, however your image of that may be.
This is a little ragged and for that I apologize. Rageboy
used to write writes, “We blog when we should be sleeping, and it shows.” I will leave the applicability of that statement as an exercise for the reader.