On the forgetting of Franklin Roosevelt

by Eric on October 18, 2012

Greetings all, and thanks for welcoming me back on a longer-term basis.

Recently a few high-profile commenters have rediscovered Franklin Roosevelt’s relevance. First The Daily Show and then The New Yorker marveled at the aptness of Roosevelt’s cheerful scorn for those who say they will preserve Social Security (and Medicare, one might now add) while simultaneously promising to cut taxes.

It was a position Roosevelt was accustomed to ridiculing, as in this 1944 campaign film (directed by Chuck Jones!) depicting the Republican provision for Social Security:

Screen Shot 2012 10 17 at 9 07 29 AMRoosevelt remained an inescapable presence for long after his death, and even today there is scarcely a place in America whose civic spaces don’t proclaim some New Deal heritage; coming or going from my hometown one sees WPA murals in the airport, and where I live now there is scarcely a city that lacks a post office or sidewalk mentioning its New Deal legacy. When Bill Clinton came to campus earlier this month he spent time preparing in the Shields Library reading room – built by Roosevelt’s Public Works Administration.

Yet modern Democrats resist mentioning Roosevelt. When the President felt pressed to defend public spending, he cited … Abraham Lincoln. Mike Grunwald notwithstanding, President Obama very clearly feels no kinship to Franklin Roosevelt. (The British left, in the person of Tony Blair, briefly took up the mantle of the New Deal and quickly abandoned it.)

The break between the modern Democratic Party and FDR goes back probably to 1960, when Eleanor Roosevelt made clear she thought little of John Kennedy (though honestly, as liberalism goes, Adlai Stevenson was no prize).

But it’s far clearer lately, in an economic crisis that appears to demand comparison to the Great Depression. It’s clear enough that Jon Stewart and David Remnick feel compelled to say (to begin as the President would), look: FDR engineered a strong recovery and a landslide victory by standing clearly for his New Deal.

The problem with Roosevelt for modern Democrats is partly one of defacement; decades of controversy (some legitimate, some ginned-up) over the New Deal have cast his reputation into doubt. And it is partly one of attempted effacement; it is no coincidence that there was a movement literally to cast Ronald Reagan in FDR’s place on the dime (one that Nancy Reagan opposed).

But the problem comes partly from Roosevelt himself: he is unrepackageable for modern America. He had too little reverence for the financiers who are the acknowledged masters of our universe – his attitude toward them ranged from what one banker called merely “naughty” to sadism – when his program to raise commodity prices brought squeals from short-sellers, he ordered Henry Morgenthau, Jr., to “squeeze the life out of the shorts and put the price up just as far as you can.” He said so, Morgenthau wrote at the time, “with fight in his tone of voice.” Remnick and Stewart notwithstanding, whatever restrained contempt the President was able to show for Mitt Romney in the second debate (“Please proceed” surely has a fine Anglo-Saxon subtext) he’s not likely to show Rooseveltian fight against the Wall Street titans. Citizens United means he can’t, and his career – like that of all modern Democrats of presidential timbre – suggests he doesn’t want to.

{ 102 comments }

1

chrismealy 10.18.12 at 11:11 pm

FDR had insane majorities (70%+ in both chambers). It was easy for him to talk trash.

2

Jackmormon 10.19.12 at 12:34 am

My parents can probably be categorized as “Reagan Democrats,” and they love the results of FDR. They are very familiar with and are fond of the public art, trails, and buildings that were built by FDR programs. I’m not sure that their suspicion of government effectiveness could be overcome to ensure their votes for a FDR-style candidate without a similar sort of physical proof of effectiveness.

What ever happened to those Recovery.gov-branded signs?

3

Lee A. Arnold 10.19.12 at 1:05 am

This can be changed. I don’t think we should underestimate the extent to which supply-side Reaganomics has become the default economic ideology of the Democrats too. The banksters have found this same belief to be convenient and advantageous to their own ends.

It is not merely among newspaper editorialists and pundits. All are led astray. There is a collective intellectual amnesia throughout the United States. It has been inculcated by decades of bad economics teaching. Look at the large number of economists who simply missed the nature of a demand-side balance-sheet recession, and thus helped to keep effective remedies from being applied. Krugman, Koo, Stiglitz, DeLong, Thoma, Martin Wolf and a few others have documented this at length. The same misunderstanding is rampant throughout high-school AP economics teachers.

The wonder is that Roosevelt knew better.

Perhaps there is a story, yet to be written, as to why it was, that he knew better. That narrative might further describe how the common sense of people from J.S. Mill through Marshall to Keynes and Roosevelt has been waylaid by misapplied methodological individualism, and by the ignorance of the two different avenues to economizing, not just one.

We usually only learn about “specialization and the gains from trade”. But we also economize by the institutional reduction of trade costs, a.k.a. “transaction costs”. That includes government and transfer institutions.

There are reductions of transaction costs, not only by business firms as institutions that internally reduce transaction costs, but also by transfer institutions and welfare institutions as institutions that reduce social transaction costs among the whole citizenry. This is a form of value, and it should be acknowledged and theorized as such. Social Security-style programs can be the most efficient sort of arrangement to treat very specific problems.

In order to see how these two form of economizing differ, I located both kinds, “specialization and the gains from trade” and “institutional reduction of trade costs”, in the same flow-chart model, here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8TKcnnWLa-s

No one seems to have noticed that Chapter 3 of The Wealth of Nations is about the reduction of trade costs by rivers and cities (i.e., geographic institutions). That is how elemental this form of economizing is: It is Chapter 3 of Adam Smith, for crying out loud:

4

Anderson 10.19.12 at 1:31 am

I was noting this silence too. Wall Street got more clever, replacing the spluttering rage of the 1930s with more sophisticated media manipulation.

But FDR also gave more press conferences than recent presidents do, and went to the public direct via radio in a way that hasnt been copied on tv.

5

Mao Cheng Ji 10.19.12 at 1:43 am

FDR was saving american-style capitalism from demise, there was an alternative. There is no alternative now, no reason to bring it up, to remind people of that dangerous and unfortunate precedent.

6

Anarcissie 10.19.12 at 2:04 am

Yes, in the 1930s Capital, following Bismarck’s lead (I guess) saw social democracy as a way of staving off worse (to them) things, like socialism, Communism, fascism, anarchism, especially on the home front. FDR was the label on this elixir. By 1970 these foes had been beaten or at least quiesced, and it was time to begin rescinding. Since Capital controls both major parties in the U.S., obviously neither one is going to advertise the product now.

7

Salient 10.19.12 at 2:18 am

But the problem comes partly from Roosevelt himself: he is unrepackageable for modern America. He had too little reverence for the financiers who are the acknowledged masters of our universe … “with fight in his tone of voice.”

Worth noting that the means for expressing that kind of contempt are pretty restricted at present. Representing the financial elite as fat men in a political cartoon is nowadays some kind of unthinkable impropriety.

Nowadays banks and industries aren’t conceived of as people, they’re institutions. Even personifications of ‘banksters’ are physically indistinguishable from the masses outside their door. It really is hard to seethe against a piggy bank, and nobody knows what a Master of the Universe looks like anymore.

8

LFC 10.19.12 at 3:02 am

Yet modern Democrats resist mentioning Roosevelt.

At least one exception comes to mind: Ted Kennedy in his great speech at the 1980 Dem. convention.
link

(Also in the Library of America volume American Speeches, pp 715-23)

“…the same Republicans who are invoking Franklin Roosevelt have nominated a man who said in 1976, and these are his exact words: ‘Fascism was really the basis of the New Deal.’ And that nominee, whose name is Ronald Reagan, has no right to quote Franklin Delano Roosevelt.”

9

Anderson 10.19.12 at 3:19 am

“Ted Kennedy in his great speech at the 1980 Dem. convention.
link”

Good catch: one of those exceptions that prove the rule, because nobody talks like Ted Kennedy any more, either.

10

Bruce Wilder 10.19.12 at 4:15 am

Democrats since long before FDR have claimed that they wanted to “fight for the people”, fight for the middle class, just as Obama did, at the second debate. I doubt that they thought a Grand Bi-Partisan Bargain was fighting, in my grandmother’s day, or Bryan’s or Andrew Jackson’s. Nor did those earlier generations any doubt that there were powerful people, powerful forces, in the elite, who meant to do ordinary people harm, and actually did need to be fought, in politics.

FDR made bi-partisanship safe, by so over-aweing the other Party, that by the 1960’s, people had forgotten, why fighting was necessary. So, we’ve been reminded. By the Vampire Squid candidate put up by the Republicans, if not the smarmy candidate the Democrats have as an alleged alternative.

11

Hidari 10.19.12 at 4:15 am

But surely there is no great mystery here? It always amazes me that liberals genuinely seem to think that Conservatıves (I mean the money men, the real Conservatıies) are genuinely and honestly upset by gay marrıage or “the sixtıes”.

It”s very obvious (at least to me) that Amerıcan Conservatism has had a long-term politıcal goal almost sınce its conceptıon (and I thınk a genealogy of its ıdeology shows this): how can “we” reverse the New Deal? When one cuts through all the rhetoric, all the irrelevancies about lifestyle issues, THIS is the core idea of modern Amerıcan Conservatısm, just as ” how can we reverse the achievements of the Attlee Government” is the core idea of Brıtish Conservatısm.

And in both cases it is clear that we will be reaching “endgame” in the next 10-20 years.

12

Down and Out of Sài Gòn 10.19.12 at 8:03 am

FDR had insane majorities (70%+ in both chambers). It was easy for him to talk trash.

But let’s turn it around. Did his ability to talk trash lead to the insane majorities? He wasn’t a demagogue like so many political leaders at the time – making lies up about easily bullied minorities – but pretty good at his brand of aristocratic scorn. He knew who his enemies were, and liked calling them out. Since many of his enemies were the crew that caused the Great Depression, I think his vitriol was pretty popular.

13

stostosto 10.19.12 at 9:42 am

@Andersen, #3: The wonder is that Roosevelt knew better.

Perhaps there is a story, yet to be written, as to why it was, that he knew better. That narrative might further describe how the common sense of people from J.S. Mill through Marshall to Keynes and Roosevelt has been waylaid by misapplied methodological individualism, and by the ignorance of the two different avenues to economizing, not just one.

I am not sure it was that Roosevelt actually knew better , it was more that he was willing to break with orthodoxy and experiment when he saw that present arrangements patently weren’t working.

He did after all do the disastrous 1937 policy change, presaging what in 2010 became known as “the pivot” from focusing on boosting demand and employment to focusing on the deficit.

It was only the the event of WWII that compelled him to effective large scale fiscal expansion.

14

Marc 10.19.12 at 1:52 pm

I’ve noticed a chance in the rhetoric and the political environment. There is far more talk about income inequality than there was five years ago, and the renewed interest in FDR simply reflects this broad change.

15

wilfred 10.19.12 at 2:52 pm

I’ve been paying taxes on 1099 for almost 20 years now and I’m not sure that everyone understands that income tax and Fica are two separate things. The only way to cut Fica is, well, to cut Fica. Income tax is a separate matter.

So, yeah, you can cut income tax and not touch Social Security.

16

Bloix 10.19.12 at 3:59 pm

Actually it’s been my experience that Democrats tend to refer to all liberal social programs as “the New Deal” presumably because LBJ and the Great Society are too toxic to mention.

17

Anarcissie 10.19.12 at 4:02 pm

If the worsening circumstances of the lower orders lead them to cause trouble, no doubt the old brands will be brought back and marketed.

18

LizardBreath 10.19.12 at 4:44 pm

This is a side note, but watching the linked cartoon, I was interested that “Jim Crow” was a car on the Defeatism train. I hadn’t realized that a labor-funded Democratic campaign film would have been explicitly anti-segregation in 1944.

19

Pete 10.19.12 at 5:10 pm

On the physical legacy of FDR one might check this out:

http://www.nps.gov/bibe/photosmultimedia/CCC-Photographs.htm#

I believe many of the lodge buildings have been rebuilt since the CCC’s initial work. It’s truly a spectacular place and an amazing CCC achievement given the logistical problems that must have been encountered back then. Ironically, on one of my first visits there, who should come into the lodge cafeteria one morning but Phil Gramm and his wife. They seemed to really enjoy themselves despite (or, better, because of) the “socialist legacy” surrounding them.

20

Luis 10.19.12 at 5:34 pm

It doesn’t help that, at this point, something like 4% of the population has much memory of the living FDR. (A current 80 year old was eight years old when FDR started his third term; and only 3.7% of the population last year was 80 or older.) So the forgetting is, in many ways, literal, and to be expected.

[Granted that this is skewed by Teddy, but this Google n-gram search for Roosevelt, New Deal, and Reagan (for comparison) also suggests we may be over-estimating the extent of the forgetting- he's not invoked talismanically at DNCs anymore but he is still very much a presence in the written word.]

21

Harold 10.19.12 at 5:57 pm

LizardBreath (18), according to Wikipedia entry on the CIO, #section on “growth during wwII”:

The CIO also had to confront deep racial divides in its own membership, particularly in the UAW plants in Detroit where white workers sometimes struck to protest the promotion of black workers to production jobs. It also worked on this issue in shipyards in Alabama, mass transit in Philadelphia, and steel plants in Baltimore. The CIO leadership, particularly those in more left unions such as the Packinghouse Workers, the UAW, the NMU and the Transport Workers, undertook serious efforts to suppress hate strikes, to educate their membership and to support the Roosevelt Administration’s tentative efforts to remedy racial discrimination in war industries through the Fair Employment Practices Commission. Those unions contrasted their relatively bold attack on the problem with the timidity and racism of the AFL.

The CIO unions were less progressive in dealing with sex discrimination in wartime industry, which now employed many more women workers in nontraditional jobs. Some unions who had represented large numbers of women workers before the war, such as the UE and the Food and Tobacco Workers, had fairly good records of fighting discrimination against women; others often saw them as merely wartime replacements for the men in the armed forces.

22

Harold 10.19.12 at 5:59 pm

23

Gene O'Grady 10.19.12 at 7:29 pm

Whenever I’m afraid I was a really bad parent I remember that both my kids were brought up knowing about and admiring FDR.

I have a CD of FDR speaking that is nice for long trips.

24

Metatone 10.19.12 at 9:34 pm

@Hidari – sadly for the NHS, the next 5 years will be critical and there’s little reason to believe it will survive.

25

Harold 10.19.12 at 10:01 pm

Note, that the CIO party for which young Pete Seeger was singing was racially integrated – while Washington DC was still officially segregated, I believe. Eleanor was truly a “soul of fire”.

26

John Quiggin 10.19.12 at 11:49 pm

Even more striking than the widespread forgetting is the fact that Obama is happy to invoke *Teddy* Roosevelt, while saying nothing positive about FDR

27

Anderson 10.20.12 at 1:49 am

26: Obama, greatest Republican president since Eisenhower. It’s a cliche because it’s true.

28

Barry Freed 10.20.12 at 2:38 pm

Obama, greatest Republican president since Eisenhower Clinton. It’s a cliche because it’s true.

FTFY.

29

cian 10.20.12 at 2:43 pm

Obama is too mediocre to be the greatest anything.

30

Bruce Wilder 10.20.12 at 3:18 pm

cian @ 29

Clearly, some part of the qualifying phrases, “since Eisenhower” and “since Clinton”, whizzed right by you.

31

rootless_e 10.20.12 at 4:44 pm

“Ted Kennedy in his great speech at the 1980 Dem. convention.
link”

A consolation speech following a defeat that preceded a bigger defeat.

32

rootless_e 10.20.12 at 4:56 pm

The level of reactionary romanticism about FDR that passes for leftism is high enough to overflow the banks of the bullshit river.

Read Howard Zinn’s chapter on the New Deal and try to come up with a different excuse for the scornful disdain white “leftists” have for President Obama.

33

cian 10.20.12 at 5:05 pm

Clearly, some part of the qualifying phrases, “since Eisenhower” and “since Clinton”, whizzed right by you.

Assume that the qualifying phrase didn’t whizz part me. What do you think my point would be. You patronizing f***er.

Obama, the John Major of American politics.

34

Luis 10.20.12 at 5:12 pm

I’d also add that idolization of particular politicians is a bad idea, because it inculcates the idea that all we need to do to get progress is to wait for the Great Man to put himself up for election. Obama, to his credit, tried to warn us about that (he didn’t say “I am the one we’ve been waiting for”) but we didn’t listen, and look where it got us.

If you want to teach your kids something useful about the FDR period, the Bonus Army is probably a much better story than FDR The Savior.

[And if you want to do serious modern research about politics, explain why despite idolizing Reagan Republicans have built great infrastructure, while Democrats have failed to do the same.]

35

rootless_e 10.20.12 at 5:12 pm

John Quiggin 10.19.12 at 11:49 pm

Even more striking than the widespread forgetting is the fact that Obama is happy to invoke *Teddy* Roosevelt, while saying nothing positive about FDR

“It will require common effort, shared responsibility, and the kind of bold, persistent experimentation that Franklin Roosevelt pursued during the only crisis worse than this one.”
Barack Obama

36

Luis 10.20.12 at 5:19 pm

Rootless forgot to date that quote, which was roughly a month ago, and a theme he’s been beating on in stump speeches since then. Definitely forgotten/ignored, though!

37

Rbino 10.20.12 at 5:21 pm

Isn’t it arguable that Obama is actually also a more republican president than Ike as well? And I say this as someone who believes Obama is likely the best we could have gotten, from a progressive point of view.

In addition, I think some of us at commiting a fatal error when we expect our nominally progressive politicians to push for progressive goals. They won’t push for anything unless they know the voters have their backs, and in this age of scandal politics, media cycles and black-box campaign finance, no politician is confident that his base will actually back him in the face of orchestrated opposition. The real problem, today, is that constituencies simply are not angry enough yet. For FDR, anger and commitment from the electorate were not in short supply, and I think FDR’s problem was being bellicose enough to satisfy the plebes ;)

38

Rbino 10.20.12 at 5:23 pm

The above is all me, somehow screwed up the italics tags..

39

Harold 10.20.12 at 5:24 pm

It is really stretching the meaning of words to call admiration for Roosevelt “reactionary”. I suppose it is only allowed to admire (romantically) Leon Trotsky.

40

rootless_e 10.20.12 at 5:42 pm

“especially : tendency toward a former and usually outmoded political or social order or policy “

Obviously, “reactionary” is on the mark.
And when we fold in the nostalgia for a complete fabrication of the Great Aristocratic White Man, showering disdain on his enemies and crushing the opposition, it’s clear that nothing could be more apposite than “reactionary”.

41

Bruce Wilder 10.20.12 at 5:49 pm

Luis @ 34

The U.S. Presidency, in a crisis, functions a bit like the office of Dictator in the Roman Republic. The President is allowed to claim pretty much any needed power. And, even, in ordinary circumstances, despite few explicit powers, the President can set a political agenda, which, in politically skillful hands, will be controlling.

In extraordinary crises, Lincoln and FDR took extraordinary actions and saved the country, and they used great and memorable speeches to articulate a meaningful purpose, for great shared enterprise. It is why we recognize them as “great” Presidents.

Obama used a great crisis to confirm a plutocracy in control of the country, and to give blanket immunity to the super-rich and large corporations for all kinds and manner of crimes against ordinary people, while focusing the political agenda on cutting Social Security benefits. This will not end well.

42

rootless_e 10.20.12 at 6:00 pm

“Obama used a great crisis to confirm a plutocracy in control of the country, and to give blanket immunity to the super-rich and large corporations for all kinds and manner of crimes against ordinary people, while focusing the political agenda on cutting Social Security benefits. This will not end well. “

Almost Romneyesque in its complete disdain for mere facts. The contrast to Roosevelt who shot, confiscated wealth of , replaced with workers soviets uh, maybe what I want is “made immeasurably richer” people like Rockefeller and Mellon is a good start, but the fact is that Obama far from cutting Social Security Benefits (for a program FDR designed to exclude black people), but made its financing at least temporarily less regressive.

43

Harold 10.20.12 at 6:33 pm

Roosevelt was a reactionary because he did not summarily execute the “enemies of the people”? Ok.

44

LFC 10.20.12 at 6:51 pm

rootless e @31:

“Ted Kennedy in his great speech at the 1980 Dem. convention”
A consolation speech following a defeat that preceded a bigger defeat.

That the speech followed Kennedy’s defeat in his challenge to Carter does not detract from or lessen its greatness as piece of political oratory (btw written by Robert Shrum, iirc). I have relatively few recollections of watching political speeches but a vivid recollection of watching that one when it was delivered. Very worth reading/watching for anyone who hasn’t.

45

LFC 10.20.12 at 6:54 pm

Indeed one might contend that Kennedy’s defeat only increased the speech’s poignancy; see esp. the concluding passages.

46

rootless_e 10.20.12 at 7:05 pm

Roosevelt was a reactionary because he did not summarily execute the “enemies of the people”? Ok.

I didn’t say Roosevelt was reactionary, I said the contemporary nostalgic fabulation about Roosevelt was reactionary.

47

rootless_e 10.20.12 at 7:09 pm

“That the speech followed Kennedy’s defeat in his challenge to Carter does not detract from or lessen its greatness as piece of political oratory (btw written by Robert Shrum, iirc).”

Bob Shrum zero wins, eight losses was good at crafting oratory that appealed to “progressives”, but that type of oratory stopped working in national politics in the mid-1970s. Tip O’Neil complained that when he told his constituents that a GOP tax plan would give the rich millions and them a nickel, they started asking – so where is my nickel.

48

John Quiggin 10.20.12 at 7:33 pm

@rootless I had indeed missed that quote. I’m pretty confident, though, that Obama has made statements that implicitly criticized FDRs policy response to the Depression. My Google skills aren’t up to locating them, or even to looking for “Franklin Roosevelt” rather than FDR

49

Harold 10.20.12 at 7:42 pm

Then it is “reactionary” to admire FDR because his reforms (as articulated by Frances Perkins) “a forty-hour workweek, a minimum wage, worker’s compensation, unemployment compensation, a federal law banning child labor, direct federal aid for unemployment relief, Social Security, a revitalized public employment service and health insurance” were only partly realized and did not go far enough.

50

Bruce Wilder 10.20.12 at 7:44 pm

rootless_e @ 40

I’m sure in your alternate reality, Obama is a bang-up good President.

51

bianca steele 10.20.12 at 7:50 pm

Not sure what Harold’s going on about. I read the earlier comment about nostalgia for FDR being reactionary with, for example, a history teacher who liked to quote “The best form of government is a kind king,” in mind.

52

djr 10.20.12 at 9:19 pm

Kennedy’s 1980 speech is not a great counter-example to Eric’s point – it was 32 years ago, and only slightly more than that after the end of Roosevelt’s life.

53

Harold 10.20.12 at 9:39 pm

History is really boring, eh, Bianca.

54

Ken Floyd 10.20.12 at 10:01 pm

I’m sure the point has been made over and again, when you look at the recovery from the Great Depression, it was flatlined until WWII and that amazing jump from high 2 digit unemployment to 2% unemployment happened because the US entered the Theatre of War.
Unfortunately that method of resuscitation has been used to little avail since the Korean Conflict. The fact soldiers are highly trained and highly skilled today, make for a situation where fewer soldiers are involved in our conflicts and the hardware they are using can’t be put together by “Rosie the Riveter”.
Where we were building thousands of planes for WWII, we now quibble over building 60. However, the price for those 60 could have built thousands of WWII planes. So war no longer employs millions of workers, but it has stayed ahead of inflation and puts the money in the same pockets of the Manufacturer’s.
That’s one reason why you can only use FDR sparingly, that and the overwhelming popularity he possessed.

55

bianca steele 10.20.12 at 10:25 pm

Sorry, I wrote too quickly and should have added something about the teacher like “and was fascinated by both FDR and Reagan and how they were both ‘earth shakers’ which every society needs and gets in those well-known cycles of US history, and who is probably now voting Republican if he wasn’t back then in spite of his admiration for Democrats of yore (including the GI Bill and other programs everyone knew his and our families’ benefited from)”; and I read too quickly and confused what you were saying with what someone else said earlier.

I do think overemphasizing the power of the presidency is a tiny bit reactionary-seeming, though. And some of the FDR nostalgia does seem to involve that, and to be shared by people who underemphasize (to say the least) individual action. So if FDR is going to be repeated, it’s not going to be with their help, actually. (If their help is needed, how the heck could the guy be another FDR?)

OTOH there are other things many people’s FDR nostalgia could be based on. (And my family’s perception of the politics at the time may be especially skewed.)

56

r 10.20.12 at 11:28 pm

John Quiggen

Kind of a big difference between

” I’m pretty confident, though, that Obama has made statements that implicitly criticized FDRs policy response to the Depression”

and
” Obama is happy to invoke *Teddy* Roosevelt, while saying nothing positive about FDR “

And I think your revised assessment is also wrong. To come back to the original point, FDR’s rhetoric was often rather moderate, at best.

“Remember that the essential accomplishment of the new legislation is that it makes it possible for banks more readily to convert their assets into cash than was the case before. More liberal provision has been made for banks to borrow on these assets at the Reserve Banks and more liberal provision has also been made for issuing currency on the security of those good assets. This currency is not fiat currency. It is issued only on adequate security — and every good bank has an abundance of such security. “

Sounds like Tim Geithner!

Finally, it’s rather rude to simply disappear my responses without even the courtesy of a note.

I got this out of automoderation for you, presumably sent there because you’ve changed your pseudonym. I have no idea what happened to your earlier comments. It’s rather rude to make accusations of foul play when computer systems don’t produce the expected result – JQ

57

Bernard 10.21.12 at 1:07 am

Obama will cut Social Security if re elected. offering Social Security and Medicare to the Republican Wolves shows Obama’s intentions. and the Obama Creation of the Cat food Committee/Bowles simpson committee to gut Social Security.

well i know a Blue Dog/Republican in Democratic clothing by their actions. like Reagan, evil worse than Rmoney.

unfortunately, Obama is worse than Rmoney when it comes the poor. Rmoney couldn’t care less about the poor and the middle class, or what is left ofthe middle class. Obama will and has actively worked to screw the middle class. but that’s life in the American Empire, interesting time, interesting kleptocrats and all that. if voting mattered, we would not be able to vote.

58

John Quiggin 10.21.12 at 4:16 am

Here’s the quote I was looking for

We didn’t actually, I think, do what Franklin Delano Roosevelt did, which was basically wait for six months until the thing had gotten so bad that it became an easier sell politically because we thought that was irresponsible. We had to act quickly.

As Roosevelt scholar Thomas Ferguson notes

The president was repeating a canard that goes back to the circle of die hards around President Herbert Hoover as he exited the White House in a cloud of bitterness in 1933.

59

Harold 10.21.12 at 4:52 am

Mr. Obama seems more interested in Lincoln than in FDR’s New Deal. Further up on the thread we are told that David Remnick and Jon Stewart and all those people who made FDR’s “Let Me Warn You” speech go viral on the web are “romantic”, “reactionary” overflowing with excrement, or just not “with it”.

Why are people so ignorant about the New Deal?

60

rootless (@root_e) 10.21.12 at 5:19 am

I don’t see how an argument that Obama got the history of the New Deal wrong rescues a debunked claim: ” the fact that Obama is happy to invoke *Teddy* Roosevelt, while saying nothing positive about FDR”.

61

rootless (@root_e) 10.21.12 at 5:20 am

my apologies if I took a system failure as something deliberate.

62

Bruce Wilder 10.21.12 at 5:31 am

“Why are people so ignorant . . . ?”

Ignorance is politically useful. And, some very rich people, who find ignorance of the New Deal particularly useful, have invested money in creating that ignorance. Knowledge, though, would also require an investment, and there is no one to make that investment.

Ignorance is more useful to the few, politically, than knowledge for the simple reasons that, like other weeds, it is more widespread, even before any effort is made to cultivate it, and more . . . plastic and adaptable to circumstance. Knowledge is likely to be experienced as a constaint, by all parties to a conversation founded on it.

63

ponce 10.21.12 at 6:02 am

Didn’t Obama talk about FDR in his recent speech at the Democratic convention?

64

MQ 10.21.12 at 6:43 am

I’m sure the point has been made over and again, when you look at the recovery from the Great Depression, it was flatlined until WWII

This is not true and a conservative canard. If you count people in public employment/work relief jobs the New Deal cut the unemployment rate from 22-23 percent to less than 10 percent during Roosevelt’s first term — a remarkable achievement. Economic growth picked up the moment he went off the gold standard. If you want to measure recovery by improvement in living conditions the New Deal succeeded, if you want to measure recovery by return to capitalist normalcy then it took until post-WWII.

and that amazing jump from high 2 digit unemployment to 2% unemployment happened because the US entered the Theatre of War.

More accurate statement would be “amazing jump from *low* 2 digit unemployment to 2 percent unemployment” — unemployment went back up from 9% to low 2 digits after the 1937 retrenchment.

The New Deal also deserves some credit for the massive drop in income inequality and mass prosperity post WWII, which was totally different than the post WWI experience.

65

rootless (@root_e) 10.21.12 at 1:53 pm

It’s correct that FDR’s policies improved the living standards of millions of people. However it is incorrect to say that the weakness of the New Deal is a ” right wing canard”. Certainly, until a black guy became President, the standard left wing analysis of the New Deal was hardly positive. Here’s Zinn on the first New Deal:

Where organized labor was strong, Roosevelt moved to make some concessions to working people. But: “Where organized labor was weak, Roosevelt was unprepared to withstand the pressures of industrial spokesmen to control the … NRA codes.” Barton Bernstein (Towards a New Past) confirms this: “Despite the annoyance of some big businessmen with Section 7a, the NRA reaffirmed and consolidated their power… .” Bellush sums up his view of the NRA: The White House permitted the National Association of Manufacturers, the Chamber of Commerce, and allied business and trade associations to assume overriding authority… . Indeed, private administration became public administration, and private government became public government, insuring the marriage of capitalism with statism.

As I have pointed out before, the Grapes of Wrath takes place during the New Deal.

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bianca steele 10.21.12 at 2:13 pm

Harold,
Also, I was kind of joking–sleep and Claritin allowed me to realize I forgot to mention that. Sorry.

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Eric 10.21.12 at 10:26 pm

I’m sure the point has been made over and again, when you look at the recovery from the Great Depression, it was flatlined until WWII

Not only is this untrue, there is a long essay – with details and charts! – explaining that it’s untrue, linked in the post.

As for the Obama remark, that’s really astounding. Which six months is he thinking of? That level of innocence is unfortunate in a president.

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MQ 10.21.12 at 10:27 pm

rootless @65: fair enough. Just pointing out that it’s untrue to say that Roosevelt’s policies did not have a significant positive impact. There is plenty of evidence from the 1930s on this, and of course his enormous popularity is difficult to explain otherwise.

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rootless (@root_e) 10.21.12 at 11:30 pm

As for the Obama remark, that’s really astounding. Which six months is he thinking of? That level of innocence is unfortunate in a president.
—-

Election early November. Inauguration March. First semi-serious relief bill May.
November, December, January, February, March, April. That’s 6, if I am not mistaken.

Contrast with: Election November, ARRA signed Feb 17 and TARP negotiated during the Bush administration.

Of course, the difference is that FDR came into office with the idea of balancing the budget not of breaking all prior records on a stimulus bill so it took him longer to figure out a plan. But FDR had both a 70% majority in both congressional houses and a national labor insurrection to focus the minds of the powers on the need for some change. Obama had a weak majority, a unprecedentedly united and hardline opposition, and a dead (or just resting) labor movement to urge things along.

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Eric 10.21.12 at 11:56 pm

So during four of those six months that FDR did nothing, Herbert Hoover was president. Likewise, it’s a damn shame Lincoln waited so long to do something about secession. Somebody is trolling here.

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John Quiggin 10.21.12 at 11:56 pm

OK, so you’ve dropped the idea of Obama as an FDR fan, and are now saying his criticism was justified. You’ve done this by
(a) counting back to the election
(b) implicitly accepting the critique that FDR should have accepted Hoover’s gold standard plan (as Obama did with TARP).
(c) Making the stunning claim that FDR did nothing for approximately 100 days after his election. I’ve seen the phrase 100 days used many times in relation to FDR, but never this way.

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Bruce Wilder 10.22.12 at 12:04 am

I may never recover from r@56: “Sounds like Tim Geithner!”

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chris 10.22.12 at 12:25 am

Then it is “reactionary” to admire FDR because his reforms (as articulated by Frances Perkins) “a forty-hour workweek, a minimum wage, worker’s compensation, unemployment compensation, a federal law banning child labor, direct federal aid for unemployment relief, Social Security, a revitalized public employment service and health insurance” were only partly realized and did not go far enough.

By that standard, God help anyone who admires Washington or Jefferson! How dare they only free the colonies from the King of England and establish rudimentary democracy and basic human rights, without also solving all of their internal social problems and injustices at the same time?!

The fact that societal change proceeds in imperfect increments may be lamentable, but it also appears to be inevitable — at least, no society that I’m aware of has ever instantly transformed into a workers’ utopia without any remaining flaws.

And I think it takes a straight white man to think Obama is to the right of Ike, or even Clinton. Not everyone has the luxury of viewing everything through the lens of economics — if you’re declared not a full person or member of society before you even enter the marketplace, it doesn’t matter quite as much what the prevailing economic conditions there are like.

P.S. Also, Congress matters. But that deserves a whole thread of its own.

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rootless (@root_e) 10.22.12 at 1:00 am

John Q.

I have not stated an opinion on whether President Obama is a fan or a critic of Franklin Roosevelt. I would not be surprised if he was both – (as I am of both Presidents). For example, while President Obama often speaks out in favor of Social Security, I doubt he admires the shameful compromise that made it initially exclude the vast majority of black workers to appease segregationists.

You made an argument that was easily shown to be false: in point of fact, the President does praise FDR. And President Obama has also often praised the social welfare programs of the New Deal and the Great Society.

Eric asked where the 6 months came from and I showed him. Being able to count 6 months is not the same as endorsing the gold standard. Perhaps FDR was right, perhaps he got the best possible deal by cold shouldering Hoover. However, we do know that he did not come into office with the intent of doing anything like what the New Deal became.

The basic point I have tried to make here is that the common effort to contrast FDR’s supposed populist hard line with Obama’s supposed cowardly vacillation, is constructed from fake history. FDR’s first 100 days bank policy was basically the same policy as the Fed carried out before Obama’s election – a program of purchasing illiquid assets. Wall Street was not razed to the ground by FDR, in fact, it was awarded a much tighter control over the national banking system. Whatever rhetorical flourishes Mr. Roosevelt made, and however much he was hated by the right wing rich, he never came close to threatening to change the basic power structure – in fact, his reforms saved the system.

Before a black man became President, it was not particularly controversial among left economists and historians that the first New Deal was very weak indeed. It now seems that we are supposed to bow towards the 100 days and weep bitter tears that President Obama has failed to attain the same heights.

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rootless (@root_e) 10.22.12 at 1:04 am

Somebody is trolling here.

Look in the mirror. My failure to accept your smug characterization of President Obama as “innocent” may annoy you, but I am making a historical argument on the points you raised and you are attempting to win the argument by yelling “troll”.

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Harold 10.22.12 at 1:08 am

rootless, FDR’s speech in question was delivered in 1936 and not during the first 100 days. I fully agree that it is very apt for today and that no subsequent President has yet surpassed FDR in eloquence, courage, or common sense.

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Eric 10.22.12 at 1:15 am

Before a black man became President, it was not particularly controversial among left economists and historians that the first New Deal was very weak indeed.

Huh. Would you accept that 2007 was before a black man became president?

But if the New Deal did not end the Great Depression, was it doing some good? Historical Statistics of the United States says yes: Except in the 1937-38 recession, unemployment fell every year of the New Deal. Also, real GDP grew at an annual rate of around 9 percent during Roosevelt’s first term and, after the 1937-38 dip, around 11 percent.

That’s informed by work by Christina Romer and Gauti Eggertsson, as well as citing the basic data. So I’m pretty sure that means that intelligent people, including some liberal (if not left) economists and historians knew the recovery under the New Deal was strong before a black man became president.

As I pointed out, counting the last 4 months of Hoover’s term as the first 4 months of Roosevelt’s is ridiculous. If you know it’s ridiculous, you’re trolling. If you don’t, you’re just very foolish.

Quiggin is, moreover, obviously correct. The idea that FDR’s first 100 days were time in which nothing was done to alleviate the Depression is a loopier notion than even the sternest critics of the New Deal’s weakness would endorse.

I was being polite in saying that the president’s remark was “innocent”.

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rootless (@root_e) 10.22.12 at 1:18 am

Harold:
It was an excellent speech and very current. FDR of 1936-1938 was far “to the left” of FDR of the first 100 days. However, even then (before the New Deal was stymied by the South), Norman Thomas referred to the New Deal as an attempt to cure tuberculosis with cough syrup.

I’m a “fan” of FDR, however, like Lincoln and like Obama, he was neither a dictator nor a revolutionary and he made many amoral decisions because of what he saw as political necessity.

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rootless (@root_e) 10.22.12 at 1:27 am

Eric, that’s all very nice, but nobody here has argued that the first New Deal did no good. Even Zinn, who I quote above in what was standard left historical analysis until Jan 2009 does not make that argument.

As for counting months, check the sources. The source of Krugman’s complaint was Tom Ferguson who wrote:

If you want to understand what really happened between Hoover and Roosevelt between November 1932, when FDR won the election by a landslide, and March 1933, the old inauguration day before passage of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, you need to comb through the papers of private bankers and the material in more easily available public sources such as the splendid Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park, New York. I have been engaged in this over more decades than I now care to admit. The bottom line is this: Hoover and a substantial bloc of New York bankers wanted Roosevelt to commit to staying on the gold standard and US participation in the upcoming London Economic Conference. These commitments would have meant continued austerity and completely destroyed any chance of fundamental reform — which was why the banks and Hoover were so insistent. In effect, they were hoping to continue with Hoover’s policies, if not Hoover himself.

Roosevelt exchanged some messages with them, but finally refused the whole package.

So if you have a problem with someone discussing those 4 months, take it up with Ferguson. http://www.nextnewdeal.net/story-behind-obamas-remarks-fdr
And again, I have not argued whether FDR was correct or not.

“I was being polite in saying that the president’s remark was “innocent”

As was I in calling that remark “smug”.

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Bruce Wilder 10.22.12 at 1:47 am

Using faint and distorted recollections of FDR as a fun-house mirror for Obama does little to help us visualize either, but I suppose rootless is determined to make tendentitious apologies for Obama, and nothing more. It’s sad, really, that someone should be so determined to misunderstand the past and the present.

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Harold 10.22.12 at 1:57 am

I’m not sure that Howard Zinn, admirable as he is in many ways, is absolutely the last word on the history of the era.

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rootless (@root_e) 10.22.12 at 2:05 am

Harold: Of course Zinn is not the last word in anything, but criticism of the New Deal was quite common in left to liberal commentators not so long ago. For example during a defense of the New Deal one historian – one that Eric clearly admires – wrote:

Roosevelt did make mistakes, the National Recovery Administration—which let industry cartels set noncompetitive, price-raising codes—chief among them. Roosevelt admitted NRA was “pretty wrong,” and historians generally agree. But the NRA lasted less than two years and did not typify the New Deal, which mostly protected Americans’ rights to strike bargains for themselves in a marketplace it left largely intact.

Of course the NRA was the centerpiece of the first New Deal.

One interesting fact is that of the two most important New Deal era labor laws that assisted unionization, the first, the Laguardia-Norris act was sponsored by Republicans and signed by Hoover.

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LFC 10.22.12 at 3:39 am

Harold upthread:
Why are people so ignorant about the New Deal?

Well I can’t speak for “people” but speaking for myself, I’ve done some reading about, e.g., the Civil War era and Lincoln in recent years but really nothing about the New Deal. I had a v. solid US history course in last yr of high school but chronologically it squeezed in everything from Jamestown to LBJ and Nixon, plus high school was a long time ago. The only US history course I took in college was about the Progressive era. Did some reading about FDR’s foreign policy in grad school but not about the New Deal. Thus I don’t know as much about the New Deal as I would like.

Historians (such as Eric Rauchway) and specialists aside, I think people who lived through the era are also perhaps the most avid readers of bios of FDR, bks about Eleanor and Franklin, etc. There are of course exceptions: Jonathan Alter, who is my age, was interested enough in FDR to write a book about him.

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Harold 10.22.12 at 4:59 am

Rootless, Norris was a populist Progressive Republican who supported Democrats Al Smith in 1928 and Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932. LaGuardia, also a Progressive, ran on the fusion ticket and was a staunch New Dealer and supporter of Roosevelt. This is not exactly a state secret.

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rootless (@root_e) 10.22.12 at 5:17 am

Harold: Yes, for sure. Here was a congress already ready to radically change law to support unions, even before the Democratic landslide in 1932. And even Hoover was willing to sign. Contrast with our Congress- and the unanimity of GOP obstructionism. And then Laguardia left Congress and became mayor of New York where he acted both as a strong supporter of the New Deal and to pressure FDR to extend it (e.g. he played a big role in supporting A. Philip Randolph’s demands for integration of war factories) . Compare to the contemporary Mayor of NYC – Mr. Stop-And-Frisk.

BTW: much of the economic recovery during the New Deal was due to labor union wins that increased wages for millions of industrial workers. The Miners and Auto Workers were not waiting for Bwana to save them, they fought for and won real victories. Compare to our era.

Laguardia, Harry Bridges, John L. Lewis, Norris, Reuther, A. Philip Randolph, even Huey Long – FDR did not create the New Deal in a vacuum from sheer toughness. Today we have nothing like the labor movement of the 1930s to push reform and no authentic populist movement. Long demanded that all wealth over $10million be confiscated. Is there a single prominent US politician with a similar following making even an inflation adjusted version of that argument now?

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Josh G. 10.22.12 at 6:10 am

Quibbling over the specific programs of the New Deal is besides the point.
FDR’s fundamental premise was that economists didn’t know what the hell they were talking about, so it was time to throw out the textbooks and try different things, and if they didn’t work, then try something else. He understood that the American people wanted action, not dogma. And he was right: the General Theory wasn’t published until 1936, and before that no economist had anything worthwhile to say about the Depression. Some of the New Deal programs, such as the NRA, failed; others were great successes. But the important part is that FDR was willing to think outside the box, to try just about anything and keep trying until the problem was fixed.
This is where President Obama fell short. He listened too much to the economists, who are just as out of touch today as they were in 1933. The economics profession as a whole has nothing worthwhile to say about the most serious problems our country faces. Democrats still genuflect in front of the high priests of economics when it comes to issues like trade.

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rootless (@root_e) 10.22.12 at 12:27 pm

Quibbling over the specific programs of the New Deal is besides the point.

Oh. To me specifics are somewhat key. For example, if one wishes to argue that the presence or absence of some themes in President Obama’s speeches is indicative, one should read some of the specific speeches. Might just be my pedestrian POV.

—-
This is where President Obama fell short. He listened too much to the economists, who are just as out of touch today as they were in 1933.

Actually that’s totally off the mark. In fact, President Obama’s most interesting successes have been where he ignored economists including the “liberal” ones like Romer who clung to the orthodox theory that manufacturing policy can’t work or who were unable to distinguish between stimulative and counter-stimulative government spending.
http://krebscycle.tumblr.com/post/18290967317/manufacturing-economics-and-democracy

However, as long as we remain mired in a discussion about FDR’s purely imaginary anti-banking agenda, we won’t get anywhere. Certainly we won’t get to evaluate e.g. Ron Bloom’s work at the WH or the effects of ACA on wealth inequality, both topics that “left”economists have studiously ignored.

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rootless (@root_e) 10.22.12 at 3:12 pm

Just for the record
—–
FDR’s fundamental premise was that economists didn’t know what the hell they were talking about, so it was time to throw out the textbooks and try different things, and if they didn’t work, then try something else. He understood that the American people wanted action, not dogma.
—-

and
====
“It will require common effort, shared responsibility, and the kind of bold, persistent experimentation that Franklin Roosevelt pursued during the only crisis worse than this one.”
====

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Harold 10.22.12 at 3:51 pm

One point on which FDR and Obama disagree is on whether the government can create jobs, according to the NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/22/opinion/the-myth-of-job-creation.html On this Obama seems to reflect the opinions of the brainwashed public.

As to what Obama thinks of FDR, whatever he may have stated in his speech (written by others), his remarks about Roosevelt sitting on his hands waiting for things to get worse also seem to reflect brainwashing by his banker friends, such as Robert Rubin, who, as Ferguson points out, played a key part in the ongoing deliberate and well-funded campaign to posthumously trash Roosevelt’s policies and reputation.

This, along with the administration’s endorsement of truly insane and vile education privatization policies, bodes very ill.

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rootless (@root_e) 10.22.12 at 4:11 pm

“One point on which FDR and Obama disagree is on whether the government can create jobs,”

———–
The purpose of the American Jobs Act is simple: to put more people back to work and more money in the pockets of those who are working. It will create more jobs for construction workers, more jobs for teachers, more jobs for veterans, and more jobs for the long-term unemployed.
Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2011/09/08/president-obamas-jobs-speech-to-congress-full-text/#ixzz2A2pcQm2h
———-

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Harold 10.22.12 at 4:37 pm

Oops, I meant “one point on which they agree” (at least rhetorically)

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Harold 10.22.12 at 4:38 pm

Scratch that. I had it right in the beginning.

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john in california 10.22.12 at 5:32 pm

It is ironic that the most successful real-life economic model imposes strict limits on the spending power of its’ richest members, talent preference for the weakest , and shared revenues from their most important, tv. Of course, I’m talking about the NFL. The plutocrats that own it have made billions by socializing the product and using protectionism to limit the competition.

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Bruce Wilder 10.22.12 at 7:34 pm

Josh G: “. . . the General Theory wasn’t published until 1936, and before that no economist had anything worthwhile to say about the Depression.”

This is simply not true.

Keynes’ General Theory had an important effect on the academic profession, founding the specialty of “macroeconomics”, and so on, but he was hardly the only economist with something useful to say about the Depression and its problems.

Just to take one example, the great Irving Fisher, whose optimism on the eve of the Great Crash is often justly ridiculed, developed an important explanatory framework, a theory of debt-deflation. During the great deflationary spiral of 1930-33, it was Irving Fisher, who correctly and very clearly identified the gold-exchange standard as the key driver of events, and who outlined the kind of shock policy, which would be necessary to de-monetize gold and arrest the deflationary spiral. FDR’s decisive action, upon his inauguration, to take the U.S. off the gold standard, which extended to the radical steps of making it illegal for Americans to own monetary gold and breaking all contracts requiring payment in gold specie, was shaped by Fisher’s authoritative advice. It was a critically important policy intervention.

A large number of economists were involved in advocating and designing important institutional reforms, to address problems, which either contributed to, or exacerbated the effects of — ymmv — the Great Depression, including industrial labor relations, agricultural policy, Social Security, the regulation of banking and finance, and public utility regulation.

My own contempt for our present-day neoliberal economists almost certainly exceeds your own. The corruption and anti-institutionalism of the neoliberals is poison, but “economist” was not then, nor is it now, a synonym for “neoliberal”. And, people, who know nothing at all about economics are still the most dangerous obstacles to sensible policy.

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Toby 10.22.12 at 9:57 pm

After 1940 when he defeated Wendell Wilkie, FDR toyed with the idea of creating a new party by fusing Liberals and Progressive Republicans such as Wilkie, casting racist Southern Democrats into the wilderness, along with hard Conservatives like Robert Taft.

The war and Wilkie’s death prevented this. But something like it has come to pass, except that it was Conservatives like Nixon and Reagan who took the initiative and attracted Southern Democrats into the GOP.

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john c. halasz 10.22.12 at 10:21 pm

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stostosto 10.23.12 at 10:52 pm

Bruce Wilder’s #94 had me googling for Keynes and Roosevelt whom I knew had a quite unsatisfactory meeting – in 1934. But I also found this Open letter from Keynes to Roosevelt from December 1933 in which Keynes very clearly spells out the case for expansionary fiscal policy – the very one that was put forward in General Theory which it has later been associated with , urging Roosevelt to move quickly and forcefully. Incidentally there were also other economists on the case, although admittedly they had a long way to go breaking into the mainstream. Sweden’s Ohlin was one whose writings and teachings anticipated some of Keynes’ points.

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stostosto 10.23.12 at 10:53 pm

Oops, forgot the link: http://newdeal.feri.org/misc/keynes2.htm

A very interesting read.

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John Quiggin 10.23.12 at 11:38 pm

@Toby #95 I never knew this. A very nice point. Eric, if you’re still reading the comments thread, do you have any response?

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rootless (@root_e) 10.24.12 at 12:33 am

The set-back which American recovery experienced this autumn was the predictable consequence of the failure of your administration to organise any material increase in new Loan expenditure during your first six months of office. The position six months hence will entirely depend on whether you have been laying the foundations for larger expenditures in the near future.

What? Heretical questioning of the 100 Days? Is that permited?


Democrats still genuflect in front of the high priests of economics when it comes to issues like trade.

Undoubtedly true, but it is fascinating to observe how Mr. Obama’s heresy on this question has been attacked by “liberal” economists like Krugman, Dean Baker, Robert Reich, and so on – supposedly “from the left”.

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Bruce Wilder 10.24.12 at 11:43 am

The mentioning of economists, who had something to say about the Great Depression, in real-time, reminds me that consensus view, after the fact — the view of Milton Friedman and Ben Bernanke — has been proven by recent events, to be seriously wrong-headed, and very few seem to have noticed. (Krugman noticed, but has said very little.) The world economy is headed off a cliff, and economists, today, most of whom didn’t see the 2008 financial crisis coming, do not seem puzzled.

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rootless (@root_e) 10.24.12 at 4:15 pm

For anyone who might still be paying attention: my response.
http://krebscycle.tumblr.com/post/34235018069/the-election-class-and-the-left

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