Lessons from FDR

Tony Badger had an interesting article in the January 26 print edition of the Nation which I have just finished reading.  The history lesson and the review of the politics FDR had to deal with are instructive, but the lessons he draws for President Obama are to the point and worth noting.

First, in an economic emergency, however distasteful it may be, you have to bail out the bankers and corporations. Second, any economic recovery package has to be bold–to create jobs, you have to spend a lot. Third, infrastructure investment works–as the New Deal’s public works programs showed in highways, education, cheap electrical power and flood control. Fourth, while you do not have to postpone much-needed reforms, you don’t have to get all your reforms passed at once. Finally, you cannot expect a recovery program, no matter how well prepared, to sail through unchallenged. You have to be nimble enough to accept some of the things Congress will insist on that you may not like. But there may be new and unexpected crises that can, as in 1933, offer opportunities to a president willing to take them.

Badger is the author of the new book FDR: the first one hundred days which I have not read yet, but I believe I heard or read somewhere that Barack Obama was reading it.

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