Barack Obama acts as though he believes he’s auditioning for a role as Franklin Roosevelt during the 1936 campaign. Given the high degree of economic ignorance in the country today, it’s not surprising that people don’t know to be scared of repeating this ugly history.
Think about this scenario. A Democratic president is finishing his first term. He inherited a serious economic downturn that he blames on his Republican predecessor. In his first four years, he’s gotten sweeping social legislation passed that will radically affect the lives of Americans and major sectors of the economy. This legislation extended federal power in unprecedented ways. Republicans vowed that they shared the same goals, but didn’t want to go as far and wanted to roll back some of the programs. The economy isn’t turning around fast enough, so the president wants to raise taxes on “the rich” to pay for his programs to create jobs, which he claims are ending the economic downturn.
So which did I just describe? FDR in ’36? Or Obama in ’12? The answer, of course, is that it’s both. The parallels between the 1936 election and the 2012 election are a bit scary if you think about them.
Listen to a Roosevelt campaign speech from the days leading up to the November 1936 election. This link will play audio of a speech in Massachusetts in late October 1936. (It’s the link on the left side of the page.) Roosevelt talked of “fairness” in taxation, in much the same ways that Obama does today. FDR engaged in the same kind of class warfare to win re-election that Obama is trying to play today.
In 1935, Roosevelt had gotten Congress to pass what he called a “wealth tax,” and he continued the same kind of shameless attacks on productive people for the entire campaign. As a result of various new Roosevelt taxes on individuals and businesses, the Depression continued — and it even got worse after the ’36 election.
If you listen to Obama now, he’s playing out the same script. (Time magazine noticed several years ago and portrayed Obama as FDR on a cover.) If he manages to use class warfare to be re-elected, the results will be just as bad if he’s able to get more taxes and more spending rammed through Congress. Thank goodness for gridlock. Let’s hope for a “do nothing” Congress.
The Great Depression finally ended, of course, and FDR’s many sycophants claimed that it was his New Deal programs that turned things around. The facts are very different. There’s consensus among economists today that Roosevelt’s taxes and spending prolonged the Depression. UCLA economists calculated that his policies made the Depression last seven years longer than it would have been otherwise.
A president will do anything to get re-elected. FDR would have done or said anything to win another term. Obama will do the same. The path that FDR took the country down was dangerous and caused untold suffering for millions. What Obama is attempting will do the same thing.
More taxation will not fix an economy. It never has. It never will. To demand that “the rich” pay more is dooming the poor and middle class to a worsening of their current problems.
Update: I just noticed that a writer from a Dallas think tank has an excellent article making the same comparison a few days ago at the Forbes website. It’s a good read.