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Franklin Roosevelt Explains Today's Economic Crisis (Part 2)

By       Message Rodger Knight       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   2 comments

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/div>In October, 1936, Roosevelt announced the Second New Deal by saying in part:
We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace--business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.
They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.
Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me--and I welcome their hatred. 

President Obama should be saying the same thing because Roosevelt's words are as true today as they were in 1936. What makes me think that?  Let's look at the third paragraph first.  For the nearly three years the Republicans have lied, obfuscated, obstructed and impeded anything the President tried do. They've filibustered, slow-walked and voted no on every significant policy proposal to come before them.  Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, has gone so far as to admit that seeing that President Obama serves only one term is his first priority: not jobs, not the economy, not helping the 46 million Americans living below the poverty line, just one term for President Obama.  That's all he cares about.  Instead of acknowledging their hatred and accepting that the Republicans will never love him, the president has compromised and cajoled.  He has given ground on tremendously important matters even before the debate began and he has compromised not only on issues but on principle.  He was elected to effect change.  He wasn't elected to champion compromise as some sort of ephemeral goal.

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Now, how about the second paragraph.  For the past thirteen years Robert Rubin, Timothy Geithner, Larry Summers, Henry Paulson, Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke have played significant roles in formulating and implementing America's fiscal policy.  Rubin, Geithner, Paulson and Summers have been Secretary of the Treasury while Bernanke Geithner and Greenspan have held the office of  Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.  All are acquainted, all are essentially free marketeers and all have influenced our economy for too long.  It's time for new ideas and new influences.

The first paragraph requires little comment.  There is no argument that financial monopoly in the form of "too big to fail," unregulated speculation on manufactured financial instruments, reckless, irresponsible and not infrequently criminal banking practices such as sub-prime loans and speculation with investor money brought about the near Second Great Depression.  It's also clear that war profiteering is a good part of why Americans are still dying in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Roosevelt had to face these problems while also preparing a very isolationist country for a war for which it was neither psychologically nor materially prepared. Like Winston Churchill, he recognized early on the threat Adolph Hitler and the Nazis represented to Europe and what Japanese imperialism meant to Asia.  Roosevelt didn't face these problems with compromise.  He faced them with clear conviction, bold ideas and strong leadership.  President Obama needs to learn from Roosevelt.  Hopefully, it's not too late,  If the President can't be another Roosevelt perhaps he could be another Truman.  That would do just fine.


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Rodger Knight is a retired probation officer and amateur historian with a particular interest in the Depression and war years. He has a BA in English and History from Cal State University, San Bernardino and, for two years, was a graduate student (more...)

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