by Daniel Gardner
Paul Moreno, professor of history at Hillsdale College, wrote an excellent article in the Wall Street Journal this week comparing President Obama's campaign strategy and rhetoric with FDR's campaign during the late 1930s. Both campaigns and economic times are eerily similar.
You may have heard Mr. Obama or one of his acolytes charging that big business is deliberately not spending dollars in order to derail his economic policies and make him a one-term president. The charges of today's progressive president are comparable to campaign rhetoric of FDR's progressive administration.
On the one hand, progressives are charging big business with greedily making more and more money, and on the other hand charging big business with hoarding money instead of investing to make more money. Huh?
Well, someone has to take the blame for the economy, and rich folks have all the money. So, they must be to blame. No one can blame poor folks or the middle class for the mess we're in.
President Obama officially began campaigning for a second term last summer with plans to raise $1-Billion for his campaign coffers. Incidentally, Mr. Obama raised more money from Wall Street in his first campaign for the office than any president. Yet, he derides big business as greedy hoarders of money who should be investing in America to create more jobs.
In the midst of the 1930s Great Depression, President Roosevelt blamed big business for America's woes. FDR actually portrayed bankers and other business leaders as fascists who wanted to control every aspect of American life much like fascists had taken control of Germany under Adolf Hitler. Historians refer to this period of political rhetoric as the "Brown Scare."
In other words, after years of failed economic policies that dragged Americans through the Great Depression, FDR needed someone else to blame so he could be reelected…for a third and a fourth term. Roosevelt is the closest we've come to having a presidential dictator for life.
Mr. Obama is facing the same challenges President Roosevelt faced from the business community - that government policies, regulations, and taxes are strangling free enterprise.
In response to these challenges, Roosevelt's head of the Justice Department's antitrust division, Robert Jackson said, "big business will never be able to convince the American people that it has been imposed on, destroyed, or even threatened. It has merely been saved from ruin and restored to arrogance." Sound familiar?
Jackson claimed big business had made "astounding profits under the present administration." Political rhetoric like this from nearly 80 years ago sounds remarkably similar to rhetoric coming out of the White House today. In fact, Obama's economy is not that different from the economy FDR governed in the 1930s.
To heal the depressed economy FDR spent more money and created more federal programs and bureaucracies than any of his predecessors. Result: The Great Depression.
To fix today's economy Mr. Obama has spent more money and created more federal programs and regulations than any of his predecessors. What outcome should we expect?