Jeffrey S. Ryan: New Deal was a good deal |

Jeffrey S. Ryan: New Deal was a good deal

Jeffrey S. Ryan
Breckenridge, CO Colorado

A growing number of letter writers are pronouncing the Obama administration a “failure.” Though this presidency is barely a month old, these soi-disant authorities see no need to wait until we know the actual effects of Obama’s policies. In truth, these letters are no different than what was being written, often by the same people, before Barack Obama took the oath.

Certain right-wing talking points make multiple appearances. And the propagandistic tool of historic revisionism is employed to convince readers that spurious claims in fact are true. The current mantra is that Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal was a failure, and that experts of every stripe agree this is fact.

Bushwah. When Roosevelt took office in 1933, the unemployment rate peaked at 24.9 percent. Throughout Roosevelt’s first term, as the New Deal went into operation, unemployment fell steadily until 1937, when the unemployment rate had dropped to 14.3 percent. And these figures did not identify workers employed by New Deal government programs, such as the Works Progress Administration, as being employed. Rather, such New Deal program workers were counted as unemployed. When such workers are counted as employed, the unemployment rate in 1937 becomes 9.2 percent, more than 15 percent lower than the rate Roosevelt inherited upon taking office. Unfortunately, Roosevelt decided to concentrate on balancing the budget in 1937, slashing New Deal programs and increasing taxes. This blunder caused unemployment to rise again.

The New Deal was tremendously effective at reducing unemployment. It was the abandonment of the New Deal that reversed the steady decline in unemployment. Yet the right wing is desperately trying to convince the public that the New Deal was a failure, blithely jettisoning the facts, replacing history with propaganda.

The policy of saying “No” to Obama’s efforts is a form of suicide. The public will not tolerate the blind “do nothing”-ism Republicans cling to. They understand that Obama will have his failures, but they are rallying to him because he is making concrete efforts to solve the multitude of problems we face. He is taking bold actions, not wringing his hands. Such leadership earns respect and hope. Knee-jerk opposition that offers no alternatives will lose every time.

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