During President Obama’s speech in Osawatomie this week, he drew direct parallels between his administration’s policies and Teddy Roosevelt’s. This, of course, is not the first time he’s attempted to bail out his failed policies by claiming their connection to an earlier, more popular president. The same approach was used early on in his administration with comparison of his economic stimulus to FDR’s New Deal.
Recent apologists for Obama’s big spending continue to use this comparison. They attempt to justify the injection of trillions of new federal dollars into our economy, claiming that exorbitant spending will eventually bring results as it did for FDR. They also claim support from the theories of John Maynard Keynes, a British economist who advocated government intervention and spending to avoid economic downturns.
In all fairness to Obama, such Keynesian views are not new to U.S. policymakers. Since the time of Franklin Roosevelt, the U.S. has increasingly adopted Keynesianism over the traditional free-market capitalism that carried us from the nation’s founding through the 1920s.
Although both Obama’s out-of-control spending and Roosevelt’s New Deal find support from this Keynesian approach, all is not the same between them. In fact, the differences are so significant that one cannot reasonably refer to the Obama stimulus plan, like Time magazine once did, as the “New New Deal.”
Unlike Obama’s spending approach, the core of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal was the use of federal funds to engage in the construction of public works programs. Some of the results can still be seen today. Many schools, athletic fields, bridges and monuments were built under the direction of Roosevelt’s economic recovery agencies.
Despite these tangible results, it’s important to remember that the New Deal did not lift the nation out of the Great Depression, nor did it remedy the nation’s unemployment woes. This is a simple fact no matter how many times academia and the press trumpet the success of Roosevelt’s efforts. Nevertheless, there’s no denying that federal dollars resulted in widespread construction throughout the country.
Unlike the lasting impact of these extensive capital projects, one’s hard pressed to perceive any positive results from Obama’s 2009 trillion-dollar stimulus plan. His administration tells us to be patient, it takes time, keep waiting. But how many more “recovery summers” can we expect?
One of Obama’s economists’ central claims when urging Congress to pass the trillion-dollar stimulus was that unemployment would stay below 8 percent. Well, we all know how that turned out. Even after Obama’s gargantuan expenditures, the official unemployment rate actually increased, reaching 10 percent at one point. And the current percentage of Americans who are unemployed, underemployed, or who have given up looking for work all together is continuing to rise. According to Gallup last week, the percentage of Americans who fit this category is a staggering 18.1 percent.
Obama also claimed that the 2009 stimulus would upgrade American infrastructure. He echoed this in his 2011 stimulus proposal as well. But even though the Congress allocated hundreds of billions of dollars for infrastructure, it’s difficult to see the effects. What we did see, on the other hand, was the blatantly corrupt use of taxpayer money to fill the coffers of unions and cronies critical to the political success of Obama and his congressional allies.
This approach, as well as the use of federal dollars to bail out bloated state government budgets and public sector union workers, was never part of Roosevelt’s New Deal. Nor were “spread the wealth” programs for cronies and failed enterprises. Rather, the New Deal funded construction projects intended to employ millions of out-of-work Americans.
So don’t buy it: Obama is no FDR, Teddy Roosevelt, or Ronald Reagan. Never before in the history of the republic have we had a president who has embraced such mindless out-of-control spending and corruption. “We the People” must hold Obama – and his complicit Congress – accountable in 2012.
Joe Miller was the 2010 Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate from Alaska. He is a West Point graduate and decorated combat veteran from the first Gulf War. former judge, Joe graduated from Yale Law School and was later awarded an advanced economics degree from the University of Alaska. He is presently chairman of Restoring Liberty Alaska PAC and Restoring Liberty Action Committee. Follow Joe at Facebook and Twitter.