Long before Senator Obama became President Obama, I drew comparisons between him and Jimmy Carter. I felt that both men would be in over their heads and that like Carter, President Obama would be controlled by circumstances more than he would control circumstances. For the most part, I believe that assessment still holds true.
In the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, while President Obama disagreed with how they were being handled and called the War in Iraq a dumb one, he found himself continuing both of them and maintaining the Bush timeline in Iraq while following Bush’s Iraqi surge strategy in Afghanistan.
On the economy, after promising to get unemployment down to a low of a rather high 8%, he continues to see unemployment hover around 10%. And while everything from the housing market to consumer confidence remains low, economic anxieties continue to be high. All of this despite record federal spending that was meant to do just the opposite.
But, while the Carter comparison remains legitimate, it is becoming clear that another narrative is taking place.
Often considered one of our five greatest President’s, years of retrospect and history are proving Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s domestic record to be one unworthy of greatness. Objective historians and economists have increasingly begun to characterize FDR’s handling of the depression as unimpressive. In fact, it has largely been established that by 1937, with only the slightest signs of recovery, what little recovery that was seen, was reversed by a new recession. It has also been established that while Roosevelt was indecisive and fumbled much of his handling of the new recession, it took a dark event to finally bring the U.S. out of both the depression and the recession——-the war in Europe.
When Roosevelt embarked upon what he called the “great arsenal of democracy” new markets opened to American industry and businesses. That new market put Americans back to work and primed America’s real economic engine. But none of this had anything to do with FDR’s New Deal programs. And that is where the FDR – Obama comparison begins.
While Franklin had the New Deal, Barack has the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Both programs created massive federally funded infrastructure projects. Both programs banked on creating short term taxpayer funded federal jobs. Both programs did little to stimulate economic growth and failed to keep unemployment rates down when federal dollars ran out.
But the similarities do not stop there.
One of Roosevelt’s greatest defeats was his attempt to keep his New Deal programs intact by stacking the Supreme Court with six new pro-New Deal justices that he would appoint and subsequently use to successfully put an end to the many Supreme Court rulings that struck down many aspects of the New Deal and ruled them unconstitutional. But people saw through his “court packing plan” and Congress rejected the idea.
Presdent Obama, on the other hand, was much shrewder than Roosevelt.
Instead of “packing the court” he methodically plotted a substantial takeover of the American economy with a health care bill that would put a sixth of the American economy in federal control. In addition to that is his Cap-and-Tax plan which, if ever approved, will prove to be the greatest transfer of wealth that mankind has ever known.
Then there are the czars.
President Obama created 21 czars which amount to 21 unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats whom do not answer to either the voters or Congress, thereby bypassing both in a most undemocratic and unsavory process. And more are on the way. With the passage of Obamacare dozens of new czars will be put in place to control and oversee that government takeover.
Another comparison that can be drawn between FRD and President Obama is the fascist styling’s that historians and economists have come to identify in FDR’s Administration.
Much like President Obama with banks, GM and other businesses, Roosevelt left ownership of businesses in private hands but used heavy regulation as a way to put in place centralized control of private enterprise.
Obama’s partnership with big labor unions and authority to even dictate corporate salaries and appoint federal Chairmen to the boards of corporations, creates a perfect parallel to FDR’s regulation of economic affairs which unnecessarily dragged government into many areas of our lives that it does not belong in. And while Franklin Roosevelt denounced business and its leaders as “economic royalists” Barack Obama describes big business as “unscrupulous and underhanded” and as “unencumbered by any restrictions on activities that might harm the environment, or take advantage of middle-class families,”.
Both Obama and Roosevelt were big defenders of redistribution of wealth. The difference though is that when Roosevelt did it, there was not that much wealth to redistribute. Now that President Obama is doing it, there is plenty of wealth to redistribute and he is doing it well. He is doing his best to insure that the wealth creators are raided and that financial success is penalized. And in the mean time, Wall Street remains combustible, wealth creators are not spreading capital, businesses are not hiring, consumers are not buying and the federal government is spending money that it doesn’t have while increasing the depth of the culture of dependency.
All things considered I am no longer sure which comparison is more relevant today.
While reenacting the helplessness of the Carter Administration, President Obama is reincarnating FDR’s economy and domestic policies. Neither performance deserves an Academy Award but I am just not sure which one deserves a nomination.
- The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression (schansblog.blogspot.com)
- What would FDR do? A Roosevelt speculates (money.cnn.com)
- Obama and FDR on Proposed American Dollar Re-Design? (chicagonow.com)