When F.D.R. took office in 1933, our country had been in a depression for approximately three and half years. Not unlike today’s severe recession, the depression he faced was international in scope, but the faltering economy of the United States predominated. F.D.R.’s “solution” to the economic hardships we faced was a socialism-made-simple approach that included everything from an expansion of government through more regulatory oversight and tax increases to the creation of employment opportunities via jobs for which the private sector saw no need.
In our current financial crisis, President-elect Barack Obama not only appears to be mimicking the approach F.D.R. used some 60 years ago, he’s even using the same language. And although Obama has added phrases like “green jobs” and “yes, we can,” his recycled approach simply promises to be another advent of unwarranted government expansion that will, in all likelihood, only prolong our financial woes.
Taxes on the wealthy, or those making over “$250,000 a year” in Obama-speak, rose to nearly 80% by the end of F.D.R.’s second term. (If you don’t think that kind of tax policy hurts the economy, read an honest history of the Carter years). Then, adding socialist-insult to injury, F.D.R. further burdened the economy by taxing capital gains — a means of confiscating much of the returns wise investors were able to make on savings.
Such tax policies “allowed Roosevelt…to accomplish…his political plundering and looting, not only from the rich but from everyone in all walks of life,” according to Jacob Hornberger. Proof of this rests in the fact that F.D.R. promised the common man “Beer by Easter,” or the abolition of prohibition, if they’d vote for him in 1932. Then, after winning the election, he imposed what we would refer to as “sin taxes” on liquor; making the very reward he’d promised the common man harder to afford.
But like the common men who voted for F.D.R., a rude awakening awaits all who think Obama will be happy by confiscating the finances of the wealthiest alone.
As for job creation, the vehicle F.D.R. used was the Works Progress Administration (W.P.A.). These were publicly-financed infrastructure projects aimed to put thousands of unemployed Americans on the government payroll by hiring them to build bridges, airstrips, sidewalks, etc., around the country; that they sometimes destroyed these things in order to justify building them should be kept in mind.
F.D.R. shamed people into supporting the W.P.A. through class warfare. Sound familiar? When convenient, he blamed the Great Depression on the greedy upper echelon of society and those whom he and other big-government politicians described as “robber barons.” In the face of such accusations, the affluent found it hard to avoid feeling dirty for being affluent and paid the taxes necessary to fund the W.P.A. (and the myriad “public works” projects implemented by F.D.R.).
Mike Papantonio, one of the geniuses at Air America, is calling for President-elect Barack Obama to follow suit: “The Works Progress Administration…moved America out of the robber-baron dark years by building roads, bridges, schools, levees and parks. … FDR was accused of being a socialist for doing [it, but it is] exactly what Obama needs to do today.”
And it doesn’t seem like it’s going to take much persuasion to get Obama to go along with the kooks from Air America. After introducing Hilda Solis as his incoming Secretary of Labor last week, Obama said: “We need to remake our transportation system for the 21st Century. Doing so will not only help us meet our energy challenge by building more efficient cars, buses, and subways or make Americans safer by rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges — it will create millions of new jobs in the process.”
Obama also stressed the need for “creating green jobs that pay well,” which will certainly make the socialist-minded echo-freaks happy. Papantonio has already said that Obama should “rebuild an energy grid that can move energy from wind farms in California to homes in New York, the dollars that are spent create job opportunities in areas of construction, technology, manufacturing and sales.”
In other words, the Left wants Obama to be like F.D.R., only worse. Whereas F.D.R.’s “public” initiative only destroyed roads, sidewalks, etc., so they could justify rebuilding them, Papantonio and his ilk want Obama to use taxpayer funds (our money) to refashion our entire energy grid so it can move inefficient, “green” energy instead of the reliable, petroleum-based energy to which we’re accustomed and on which our national security rests.
On top of all this, don’t forget the mountains of new regulation that Obama plans to put in place. When he introduced Mary Shapiro as the incoming Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, he promised she would put “increased regulation of mortgage brokers” in place. He also spoke of “common-sense rules…to regulate our market” and the “need to restore and renew those rules today.” I wonder if these will be as draconian as his “common-sense” gun control measures?
We must remember that after F.D.R. pushed his new expanse of regulations through under the guise of “saving America’s free-enterprise system," he left behind a system that was no longer free. Thus, even when Obama references the “market” he rarely, if ever, references the “free market” our Founders intended.
In case anyone thinks I’m forcing conclusions in the comparison between these two men, just consider Obama’s own words on CBS News on Sunday, December 14, 2008: “In 1933, another new president faced a collapsing economy, and rallied the nation with [these] words: ‘This nation is asking for action, and action now,’ said Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his first inaugural address.”
Obama said that when F.D.R. came into office, “the first thing he did was to provide relief, direct relief.” And I think it is important to note that the “Social Security Act…the Agricultural Adjustment Act, the Emergency Banking Relief Act…the Federal Securities Act, and the National Labor Relations Act came into existence” under the guise of providing “relief.” But in truth, what these and many other acts did was take a bit more “control of people’s lives [while] absolving them from responsibility for errors and foolhardiness by giving them the political loot that had been stolen from others.” (Hornberger)
During the CBS News interview, Obama also confessed his belief that the W.P.A. “left a mark on America that is still visible today.” In this he’s right and wrong: it did leave a mark, but not a beauty mark as he supposes as much as a scar from which we have yet to heal.
That Obama is like F.D.R. is beyond dispute. How much worse he’ll be is what we’re about to discover.
Sign up to the Human Events newsletter