Feb 18, 2009

Bruce Bartlett on the New Deal: FDR did not spend enough

One reason why Republicans strenuously oppose the Obama administration's fiscal stimulus plan is because it repeats the errors of Franklin D. Roosevelt. To them, the New Deal was mainly about vastly expanding government spending and deficits, which Republicans believe made the Great Depression worse rather than better. Therefore, doing so again in the present downturn will also lead to failure.

The true New Deal legacy, however, is more complicated. Serious mistakes were indeed made. In particular, the National Industrial Recovery Act was fundamentally ill-conceived and retarded economic recovery. But in terms of fiscal policy, Roosevelt's error wasn't that he spent too much, but that he didn't spend nearly enough.

~ Bruce Bartlett, "The Real Lesson of the New Deal," Forbes.com, February 13, 2009

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