Is Obama another FDR? Let's hope not!

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If you Google "George W. Bush" and "Hitler," you get plenty of hits comparing the nations's 43rd president with the German warmonger and mass murderer.

If you Google "Barack Obama" and "Franklin Delano Roosevelt," you get plenty of hits comparing the president-elect with the nation's 32nd president.

Bush is a far cry from Hitler -- and let's hope Obama is just as far removed from FDR, at least as far as economic recovery goes.

The reason there are so many FDR-Obama comparisons is because Obama seems to be modeling his recovery agenda on FDR's first 100 days -- government intervention in the economy; attempts to manipulate the markets; redistributing wealth; huge infrastructure spending to put people back to work, such as FDR's National Industrial Recovery Act; Homeowners Loan Corp., which lowered mortgage rates to reduce foreclosures; "soak the rich" policies that boosted the top federal income tax rate from 25 percent in 1931 to 79 percent in 1936; and heavier regulation of the private sector.

For awhile, until the Supreme Court struck them down, FDR even imposed wage-price controls.

Obama does not appear to be going down that dreaded road again, but the rest of his agenda is strikingly similar to FDR's New Deal. Many pundits, newspapers and magazines, such as The New York Times and Time, think that's a great idea, because FDR is widely credited for leading the nation out of the Great Depression.

But did he?

Matthew Bandyk of U.S. News and World Report explored FDR's economic recovery record earlier this year and found that many historians believe Roosevelt's heart was in the right place, but that his policies, for the most part, were a dismal failure. Indeed, they probably caused the Depression to run deeper and longer than it would have if government had stayed out of it and just let the bad times run their natural course.

Roosevelt succeeded to some extent in redistributing the wealth, but it didn't improve the economy; in fact, it hurt it. His "soak the rich" policies turned out to be "tax success" policies that dried up the kind of capital and business investment that could have done more to revive the economy than anything the government did.

FDR's regulatory regime had a varied history -- some hits and some misses, just as his record as a wartime president did. He also gets credit for Social Security and implementing other safeguards that have helped people cope with hard times.

But there's no doubt that it was the war that led the nation out of the Depression, and not the New Deal. Between 1932, when FDR was elected, and 1940, when the nation began to put itself on a wartime footing, unemployment averaged more than 17 percent -- the high being 24 percent and the low about 12 percent. In 1940, it was near 15 percent.

Clearly, Obama should be careful if he emulates FDR, so that he copies the best of him and not the worst.

What the New Deal teaches is that large tax hikes, huge federal spending programs and a too-heavy regulatory hand will not put us back on the road to prosperity.

It just might make the road that much longer.

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JohnRandolphHardisonCain
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain 11/23/08 - 06:09 am
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The Billy Morris, Mike Ryan,

The Billy Morris, Mike Ryan, right wing southern conservative brain trust is bankrupt. They hate FDR. They hate minimum wage & the Social Security safety net. They hate the 40 hour work week, workers compensation, overtime pay, paid holidays, workplace safety regulations & labor unions. They hate the Environmental Protection Agency which was established by Republican President Richard Nixon & gutted by Reactionary President George W. Bush who followed through on Republican activist & strategist Grover Norquist's mantra to "shrink government down to the size that we can drown it in a bathtub". Clear air, clean water, a safe food supply & protection of the environment are "namby pamby wimpy Liberal priorities". Real men don't need no stinkin' government. Never mind that the incompetent, corrupt, criminal Bush/Cheney regime has not only driven this country into a ditch, it has driven this country off a cliff. It has succeeded in bankrupting the Treasury, killing the middle class & further enriching the rich, ruling, decision making class (into which George W. Bush & his patrician father were born). Massive public works spending is necessary to stimulate the moribund U.S. economy.

PTHS225
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PTHS225 11/23/08 - 06:24 am
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toaster

toaster

patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 11/23/08 - 06:45 am
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One similarity of the

One similarity of the depression era and today is the sad level of education. Misinformation finds a willing home in the uninformed and confused. 4 years of Obama will make a lot of people a lot wiser, but only personal effort will make them any smarter.

shamrock
576
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shamrock 11/23/08 - 07:22 am
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The "long road" is actually

The "long road" is actually trying to make sense of what this person is trying to convey. It is a rambling collection of disjointed thoughts ... much like how my response is turning out. If you Googled those name combinations you really need to get a real life!

Bizarro
13
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Bizarro 11/23/08 - 07:29 am
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I'm sure you could Google

I'm sure you could Google "hope" and get Pandora's box, education, or what we need the next four years. hee,hee,hee.

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
576
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain 11/23/08 - 07:39 am
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The Augusta Chronicle

The Augusta Chronicle editorial staff (ACES) is already unloading on the Barack Obama administration 2 months before they take office. Nevermind that President Bush is gutting environmental regulations as he heads for the door. Nevermind that George W. Bush was and still is at the helm when the biggest financial crisis since The Great Depression hit this country. Nobody at the G20 summit wanted to shake Bush's hand. The common belief is that this worldwide financial crisis began in United States and was perpetrated by the unregulated use of fancy financial instruments such as Credit Default Swaps created by a poorly regulated banking system. This is what happens when no government / private enterprise / voluntary compliance / deregulation is substituted for good government and proper oversight. See article in today's Washington Post titled "Banking Regulator Played Advocate Over Enforcer". None of this happened on President Barack "FDR" Obama's watch.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/22/AR200811...

Riverman1
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Riverman1 11/23/08 - 07:43 am
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Obama's team is actually

Obama's team is actually studying FDR's measures and how they were implemented. When you interfere with what's paying the rent, capitalism, you had best not complain when you are homeless and in the street.

I4PUTT
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I4PUTT 11/23/08 - 07:44 am
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This article is spot on in

This article is spot on in certain similarities between FDR & Obama. Both bring a ton of valuable experience to the White House. FDR was a state senator, a governor of New York, Assistant Secretary of the Navy before serving 4 terms as president. Barack was an ineffectual state senator, the most liberal voting US Senator for less the a year and would love to serve 4 terms as president of the Global States of America.Obama nation....the definition of this word can not just be a coincidence.

IncredibleGuy
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IncredibleGuy 11/23/08 - 08:15 am
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Problem is FDR got people to

Problem is FDR got people to work; you think all those people on the government dole are going to work or be required to work to get their pay check. Doubt it...

eric stoner
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eric stoner 11/23/08 - 08:24 am
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The Chronicle's editorial is

The Chronicle's editorial is an amazing take on the FDR legacy. Almost anyone you talk to who lived at that time will tell you that it wasn't so much the policies he implemented, but rather the hope and optimism he instilled in the American people that brought the country out of the depression. Sure, some things worked and some didn't. But Roosevelt is still rated as one of the 2 or 3 greatest Presidents - both for his economic success and his wartime leadership.

TechLover
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TechLover 11/23/08 - 08:34 am
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If you Google George W Bush

If you Google George W Bush and Hitler you get 2,900,000 hits. If you Google Barack Obama and Hitler you get 4,440,000 hits. Interesting since Ws been in office 8 years and Obama hasn't yet been sworn in.Regardless, most of the entries come from blogs that anyone with a computer can write. Not exactlya reliable source.On Nov 18, the AC had a guest editorial by John Stone urging movement on Interstates I-3 and I-14. For not wanting to spend our tax dollars it seems the AC is in favor of spending 100s of billions of dollars on unneeded and in many areas unwanted interstates when many of our existing highways and bridges desperately need repair. In 1932 when FDR was elected unemplyment was 23.6%, in 1941 before the US entered WW 11 it was 9.9%.a 58% decrease. In 1932 the GDP was 58.7, in 1941 it was 126.7,a 116% increase.We should be so lucky.

sjgraci
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sjgraci 11/23/08 - 08:53 am
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Failed policies of the right

Failed policies of the right lead to great Democratic leaders like FDR and now Obama. Conservatives had their shot and once again failed miserably. It will now take sane liberal policies, a new New Deal, to get this country back on track. Policies that put people back to work, ensure healthcare, repair our infrastructure, and restore our leadership in the world. Some day in the near future, Obama will have his own uplifting FDR like monument along the tidal basin in D.C. because he pulled us out of the mess he was handed and that is the Chonicle's and conservative's worst fear.

55 F-100
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55 F-100 11/23/08 - 08:55 am
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Good Article. That is if you

Good Article. That is if you mean that Obama is a Fraud, is Deceitful, and is a Reprobate. Yeah, your're correct, Obama does translate as F-D-R.

fd1962
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fd1962 11/23/08 - 09:10 am
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Pathetic excuse for an
Unpublished

Pathetic excuse for an article. No wonder subscribers to the Chronicle have disappeared like water from Lake Thurmond.

shivas
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shivas 11/23/08 - 09:14 am
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The sad similarity between

The sad similarity between the Depression and today is the complete lack of caring and understanding by a corporate elite that rapes profits while displacing workers. Obama has already shown more leadership in his transition to power than Bush did in 8 years. It is the right-wing's worse nightmare, but the American People's greatest hope.

patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 11/23/08 - 09:15 am
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eric stoner, if you speak

eric stoner, if you speak only to NYTimes readers, FDR was one of the great presidents, but if you speak with the informed, you see that FDR provided hope at a time when there was none, so it took little to look good. In retrospect, FDR represents the first major surge to the left for this country and scars that we are still trying to recover from, as well as pretty good leadership in an era as tough as the one our current president is having to deal with. It's a mixed bag. History has been fair to FDR, even though our schools skip over his failures. We're doomed to repeat them.

americafirst
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americafirst 11/23/08 - 09:56 am
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Shivas: the dems didn't give

Shivas: the dems didn't give Bush a chance for a smooth transition because they were crying about the result and gore was filing suits to try to overturn the election and destroy the country. They effectively locked up the country.

disssman
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disssman 11/23/08 - 09:58 am
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Oh boy, now the A.C. staff

Oh boy, now the A.C. staff are all Economists with minors in History! I'll guarantee you that CEO's during Roosevelts time wern't making 435 times as much as a company employee. If I am not mistaken we had a lot of investors that tooka plunge also. Finally, I wonder why the USA was the only nation involved with the great depression, or was it globally? If you really want to know how we got out of that terrible time, start looking at the history of unions! You will see that especially in the coal mining areas, the unions brought the people out of corporate slavery.

fd1962
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fd1962 11/23/08 - 10:10 am
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I respect your historical
Unpublished

I respect your historical Depression perspective, Patricia, since you lived through it with firsthand experience, but to imply that the era with which our current president is having to lead is as tough as Depression times, surely is a stretch. Roosevelt pretty much inherited a situation calling for unprecedented action. BushCo seized a tragic situation to excuse their twisted courses of action and vendetta which plunged this country into its present condition. Slight difference there.

HotFoot
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HotFoot 11/23/08 - 10:10 am
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PT, you denigrate NPR and now

PT, you denigrate NPR and now the NYT. Pray tell, what does one of such Illustrious Intellect listen to and read? I trust you can name publications, unlike the functionally illiterate Palin. So, do, do enlighten us, O Great One.

fd1962
26
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fd1962 11/23/08 - 10:12 am
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Oh, PT, since you are our
Unpublished

Oh, PT, since you are our self-annointed education maven, I'm surprised the Depression era schools didn't 'learn' the informed about ending sentences with prepositions?!

fd1962
26
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fd1962 11/23/08 - 10:24 am
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Sorry, Patricia, I didn't
Unpublished

Sorry, Patricia, I didn't expect all these ruffians to come to the party so early. You KNOW I still love you! I'm your epistolary slave.

bigalsc
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bigalsc 11/23/08 - 10:29 am
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Come on, guys. PTs comments

Come on, guys. PTs comments today show a glimmer of intellectual honesty, no matter whether you agree or not. Give her a break.

fd1962
26
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fd1962 11/23/08 - 10:40 am
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You're right, bigalsc, let's
Unpublished

You're right, bigalsc, let's get back to discussions about killing babies and bashing religion - sell some newspapers, for crying out loud.

HotFoot
17
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HotFoot 11/23/08 - 10:43 am
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Hey, I'm serious: What DO you

Hey, I'm serious: What DO you read and listen to, Patricia? Even though I disagree with virtually everything you say, I still recognize intelligence, so I know you can't possibly confine your reading to this local rag. I do find your attitude patronizing, however. You're right, I'm an NPR listener and I subscribe to the NYT, plus I read several other newspapers online. If that makes me some sort of imbecile in your eyes, I'm comfortable with that.

fd1962
26
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fd1962 11/23/08 - 10:54 am
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Midwestern, if you can hang
Unpublished

Midwestern, if you can hang on for a few more hours, "jack" will be certain to arrive after last night's Irish Whiskey fog dissipates. He has declared himself the 'Most Highly Educated' on these boards, and will be pleased to point you in the Right direction. No kidding. One of his degrees is even from a 'Baptist' college. Imagine that?!

dani
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dani 11/23/08 - 11:05 am
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I recall my grandparents

I recall my grandparents taking about "work camps" set up by FDR. Maybe Obama will set up a similar program which means you work for food. ( It would be a change we can believe in to make the able-bodied labor for a paycheck.

christian134
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christian134 11/23/08 - 11:12 am
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My own father worked in the

My own father worked in the CCC camps...They fed many folks while getting much needed projects completed...If your able and want to eat you must work for the right to eat...Now that would be a novel idea that should be instituted by Obama/FDR...Sounds good to me...Certainly would put a wrinkle in some folks way of life...:-)

justthefacts
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justthefacts 11/23/08 - 11:46 am
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The New York Times's weekday

The New York Times's weekday circulation, the third-highest in the country, fell 3.6 percent, to just over 1 million. Its Sunday circulation, the highest, dropped 4.1 percent, to more than 1.4 million.

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
576
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain 11/23/08 - 12:20 pm
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George W. Bush presided over

George W. Bush presided over the biggest increase in the size of government since LBJ's "Great Society". The Augusta Chronicle editorial staff (ACES) led by Mike Ryan and following the lead of owner Billy Morris backed George W. Bush and The Republican Party to the hilt. Now they claim they are "true conservatives" meaning of course they claim to be fiscal/social conservatives while remaining national security hawks and pandering to the religious right. They claim that social spending rather than financial tom foolery and ruinous wars have brought this nation to its knees (and not in prayer). The truth is that the Medicare prescription program was a give away to Bush's big pharmacy friends. It hog tied the government from bartering to reduce drug prices. It was a windfall for Bush's well-connected, decision making friends just like the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Pakistan have been windfalls for private security contraction firms like Halliburton, Blackwater, etc., etc., etc.. ACES thy name is hypocrisy.

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