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Thread: Did you hear FDR prolonged the Great Depression?

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    Elite Member Fluffy's Avatar
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    Question Did you hear FDR prolonged the Great Depression?

    Conservatives' newest talking point -- designed to stop Congress from passing an economic stimulus package -- is breathtaking. By David Sirota
    Jan. 02, 2009 |
    If you're like me, you sometimes find yourself speechless when confronted with abject insanity.

    If you're like me, for instance, you were dumbfounded when "Forrest Gump" beat out "Pulp Fiction" for best picture; when HBO's "Sopranos" received more accolades than "The Wire"; and when George W. Bush insisted Iraqi airplanes were about to drop WMD on American cities.

    So if you're like me, you probably understand why I was momentarily tongue-tied last week after running face-first into conservatives' newest (and most ridiculous) talking point: the one designed to stop Congress from passing an economic stimulus package.

    During a Christmas Eve appearance on Fox News, I pointed out that most mainstream economists believe the government must boost the economy with deficit spending. That's when conservative pundit Monica Crowley said we should instead limit such spending because President Franklin Roosevelt's "massive government intervention actually prolonged the Great Depression." Fox News anchor Gregg Jarrett eagerly concurred, saying "historians pretty much agree on that."

    Of course, I had recently heard snippets of this silly argument; right-wing pundits are repeating it everywhere these days. But I had never heard it articulated in such preposterous terms, so my initial reaction was paralysis, the mouth-agape, deer-in-the-headlights kind. Only after collecting myself did I say that such assertions about the New Deal were absurd. But then I was laughed at, as if it was hilarious to say that the New Deal did anything but exacerbate the Depression.

    Afterward, suffering pangs of self-doubt, I wondered whether I and most of the country were the crazy ones. Sure, the vast majority of Americans think the New Deal worked well. But are conservatives right? Did the New Deal's "massive government intervention prolong the Great Depression?"

    Ummm ... no.

    On deeper examination, I discovered that the right bases its New Deal revisionism on the short-lived recession in a year straddling 1937 and 1938. But that was four years into Roosevelt's term -- four years marked by spectacular economic growth. Additionally, the fleeting decline happened not because of the New Deal's spending programs, but because Roosevelt momentarily listened to conservatives and backed off them. As Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman notes, in 1937-38, FDR "was persuaded to balance the budget" and "cut spending and the economy went back down again."

    To be sure, you can credibly argue that the New Deal had its share of problems. But overall, the numbers prove it helped -- rather than hurt -- the macroeconomy. "Excepting 1937-1938, unemployment fell each year of Roosevelt's first two terms [while] the U.S. economy grew at average annual growth rates of 9 percent to 10 percent," writes University of California historian Eric Rauchway.

    What about the New Deal's most "massive government intervention" -- its financial regulations? Did they prolong the Great Depression in ways the official data didn't detect?

    Nope.

    According to Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, "Only with the New Deal's rehabilitation of the financial system in 1933-35 did the economy begin its slow emergence from the Great Depression." In fact, even famed conservative economist Milton Friedman admitted that the New Deal's Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was "the structural change most conducive to monetary stability since ... the Civil War."

    OK -- if the verifiable evidence proves the New Deal did not prolong the Depression, what about historians -- do they "pretty much agree" on the opposite?

    Again, no.

    As Newsweek's Daniel Gross reports, "One would be very hard-pressed to find a serious professional historian who believes that the New Deal prolonged the Depression."

    But that's the critical point I somehow forgot last week, the truism we must all remember in 2009: As conservatives try to obstruct a new New Deal, they're not making any arguments that are remotely serious.

    2009 Creators Syndicate Inc.
    -- By David Sirota
    FDR and the New Deal: Did it prolong the Great Depression? | Salon

    Bestselling author David Sirota's latest book is "The Uprising." He is a fellow at the Campaign for America's Future and a board member of the Progressive States Network -- both nonpartisan organizations. His blog is at Sirotablog.

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    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    I love how Republicans bitch about the social programs FDR helped to create while they sit back and benefit from those same programs.

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    Elite Member Shinola's Avatar
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    Yup. It's totally crazy that most Republican voters are working- and middle-class Americans (like me) who would be living in poverty today were it not for government programs. Like that great socialist experiment known as education. And those vile income taxes, which are pretty much responsible for creating the middle class where before there were kings and paupers.

    Not to mention Social Security, or just having, like, highways and stuff.

    I say the feds should stop maintaining the interstate highway system and let Christian church groups volunteer for that job. That's be an improvement.
    Posted from my fucking iPhone

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    Elite Member Aella's Avatar
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    Keynes is spinning in his grave.
    "Remember to always be yourself. Unless you suck." - Joss Whedon

    "The only thing more expensive than education is ignorance." -Benjamin Franklin

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    Friend of Gossip Rocks! buttmunch's Avatar
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    Repugs hate FDR to this day because they considered him a class traitor. Idiots.
    'Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.' Ben Franklin

    "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."
    --Sinclair Lewis

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    "Excepting 1937-1938, unemployment fell each year of Roosevelt's first two terms [while] the U.S. economy grew at average annual growth rates of 9 percent to 10 percent,"
    Right, and it was 1937-8 when FDR wasn't acting like a liberal.

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    Elite Member B.C.'s Avatar
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    I'm sure my father who is 91 years old would get totally pissed if he read this. He has always given FDR the credit of getting the country out of the depression.

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    Gold Member ymeman's Avatar
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    Next they will be saying he caused it, from the future, with his evil progressive witchcraft.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ymeman View Post
    Next they will be saying he caused it, from the future, with his evil progressive witchcraft.

    Nah, they'll blame it on Clinton and Obama.

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    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ymeman View Post
    Next they will be saying he caused it, from the future, with his evil progressive witchcraft.
    Witchcraft is more Palin's department.

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    Elite Member MontanaMama's Avatar
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    Here's what totally baffles me about the "righteous" right...they actually hate the United States. The mantra is taxes are bad, military good, US is #1. But we have invested NOTHING in this country in 40 years - not roads, infastructure, education, healthcare, nuthin'. Hell, even our cell phones are decades behind Europe & Asia. And we don't make anything anymore. We have no middle class and no more working class because we don't take care of what we have (ie roads and bridges). I don't get why the right doesn't get that maintenance is half the battle. (sorry I'm in babble mode tonight)

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    Elite Member louiswinthorpe111's Avatar
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    FDR did all he could to bring us out of the depression. Technically, what brought us out the the Depression, was the war in Europe (WWII) and the US support through supplying them with arms, tanks, etc... requiring factories to hire people, etc... That's one of the reasons why the Axis powers wanted the US in the war, because we were covertly supporting the Allies, they wanted it out in the open.

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    Elite Member MohandasKGanja's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by louiswinthorpe111 View Post
    FDR did all he could to bring us out of the depression. Technically, what brought us out the the Depression, was the war in Europe (WWII) and the US support through supplying them with arms, tanks, etc... requiring factories to hire people, etc... That's one of the reasons why the Axis powers wanted the US in the war, because we were covertly supporting the Allies, they wanted it out in the open.
    I think it's more complicated than that. The United States had placed a series of embargoes against Japan for invading various Asian rim countries, including China and Burma. Japan was concerned about the loss of resources if it capitulated to the U.S. and then decided it would strike preemptively. While the Japanese already had an alliance with Germany, Japan only ever cared about its own interests. Germany's motivations were different.

    Also, I believe it was Paul Krugman (recent Nobel Prize-winning economist) who has stated that the Depression bottomed out around 1932-1933, and that the economy was moving upward from that point. Which would have preceded WWII involvement by several years.

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