Recently, I reread the chapters on the New Deal in Larry Schweikart's superb "A Patriot's History of the United States" to review parallels with Barack Obama's radical economic agenda. Here is an eye-opening, side-by-side sampling, with Schweikart's observations on FDR and the New Deal, along with mine on President Obama and his policies.
Schweikart wrote, "During the campaign, FDR, a man whose presidency would feature by far the largest expansion of the federal government ever, called for a balanced budget and accused Hoover of heading the 'greatest spending Administration in all our history.'"
Obama's stimulus bill sets frightening new records for federal spending. But while campaigning, he said, "I'm running for president because I believe we can choose our own economic destiny to go another four years with the same reckless fiscal policies that have busted our budget, wreaked havoc in our economy, and mortgaged our children's future on a mountain of debt; or we can restore fiscal responsibility in Washington."
Schweikart wrote, "Roosevelt heaped dishonor on the defeated Hoover, denying him even a Secret Service guard out of town."
At Obama's inauguration, his supporters booed, heckled and chanted tauntingly at President George W. Bush. Obama went to dinner during President Bush's farewell speech and repudiated the Bush era in his inaugural address and on his new White House Web site.
Schweikart wrote, "Roosevelt hoped to capitalize on the terrifying collapse of the economy to bulldoze through a set of policies that fundamentally rearranged the business and welfare foundations of American life." He continued, "Above all emergency measures needed to be done quickly before opposition could mount to many of these breathtaking challenges to the Constitution."
When Obama peddled panic to rush his bill through Congress, he heeded this advice from Rahm Emanuel: "Never allow a crisis to go to waste. They are opportunities to do big things." The Heritage Foundation's Robert Rector said Obama's stimulus bill "will overturn the fiscal foundation of welfare reform. For the first time since 1996, the federal government would begin paying states bonuses to increase their welfare caseloads." Obama regards this legislation as just the first step ("a down payment") in his mission to restructure the American economy.