Friday, February 13, 2009

The New Deal (updated)

I've been listening to the debate on C-Span today and it's apparent that Republicans will maintain their near-unanimous opposition to the stimulus bill when the vote comes, probably this afternoon. The outcome is not in doubt: the bill will pass, but possibly only 3 Republicans in both houses will vote for it.

The arguments are pretty predictable, but popping up now and again is an interesting debate about the Depression, Roosevelt and the New Deal. In case you already have some notions about the New Deal, there are a few Republicans, quoting a few economists, who claim that that the New Deal actually prolonged the Depression. They argue that this stimulus bill is just another New Deal and will be just as bad for the country.

So the Democrats are now picking up on this theme. I just heard someone quote Herbert Hoover, who in 1932 asked Will Rogers to think up a joke that would stop hoarding. Hoover also said that government intervention in the Depression would undermine the very basis of self-government.

Of course, Roosevelt had different ideas. He believed that the country needed some tangible reason to feel some hope. The New Deal provided real hope and real food for hungry people and real medicine for sick people. The stimulus package today has the same intent. But the Republicans are saying, in every possible way today, that the plan will simply make things worse, leaving their supporters (the people who actually have some confidence in them) without much hope at all.

Obama has already said that he will take the blame if the plan fails. At least we now have a president who is willing to take some responsibility. So, as of today I am no longer in charge of the economy (maybe I didn't do such a good job, anyway). Now I've got to straighten out this thing in Afghanistan.

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