Obama's 'New Deal'
Byline: Jeffrey T. Kuhner
President-elect Barack Obama and his team are modeling their domestic agenda on President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Keynesian liberalism. They are seeking to forge a modern, 21st century version of the New Deal. There is, however, one major problem. The original New Deal was a dismal failure.
Mr. Obama recently pledged that his incoming administration would make the largest investment in national infrastructure projects since the late 1950s. Hundreds of billions will be spent on building new roads and bridges, upgrading old school buildings, modernizing hospitals and expanding access to Internet broadband, the so-called information superhighway.
The great myth championed by the American left is that Franklin Roosevelt was a first-rank leader, a bold and decisive president who tackled the Great Depression and defended democracy against totalitarianism. According to most liberals, FDR provided hope and security to a country battered by economic crisis, and visionary leadership in the struggle against fascism.
This myth is so deeply entrenched, even conservatives, such as Conrad Black and Newt Gingrich, praise FDR as one of the seminal statesmen of the 20th century.
Yet, Roosevelt's New Deal failed to engender economic recovery. His massive public works programs, relief aid and burgeoning welfare policies did not reverse the crippling unemployment and rampant poverty of the 1930s. In fact, his tax increases, class warfare rhetoric, stifling regulations and reckless government spending crippled economic growth, job creation and the formation of vital investment capital.
Contrary to FDR's claims, the New Deal did not save American capitalism, but wrecked it. He established the dangerous precedent of massive government interference in the economy and a rudimentary welfare state - forging a destructive path toward creeping socialism.
FDR's big government liberalism also led to sweeping away traditional values such as self-reliance, civic virtue, individual liberty, limited government and a decentralized, constitutional republic. America has been transformed into a country our Founding Fathers would not only find unrecognizable but repulsive: a nanny-state characterized by confiscatory tax rates, a swollen federal bureaucracy and a citizenry that depends on government largess. The New Deal destroyed more than a free-market society; it destroyed the American character.
In foreign affairs, FDR was a reactive leader, who possessed no ideological or moral core. He cut defense spending throughout most of the 1930s. Instead of championing a policy of rearmament and vigorous containment of German dictator Adolf Hitler - as Winston Churchill did - FDR supported appeasement. He openly welcomed British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's betrayal of Czechoslovakia at Munich. FDR's incoherent, weak foreign policy only emboldened Hitler and Imperial Japan. The result was another world war, a Europe in ruins and 50 million dead.
FDR's appeasement extended to Soviet strongman Josef Stalin as well. …