The Econ Version Of Global Warming

2 comments January 5th, 2009at 09:57pm Posted by Eli

Is anyone else feeling a bit of… deja vu?

During a Christmas Eve appearance on Fox News, I pointed out that most mainstream economists believe the government must boost the economy with deficit spending. That’s when conservative pundit Monica Crowley said we should instead limit such spending because President Franklin Roosevelt’s “massive government intervention actually prolonged the Great Depression.” Fox News anchor Gregg Jarrett eagerly concurred, saying “historians pretty much agree on that.”

Of course, I had recently heard snippets of this silly argument — right-wing pundits are repeating it everywhere these days. But I had never heard it articulated in such preposterous terms, so my initial reaction was paralysis — the mouth-agape, deer-in-the-headlights kind. Only after collecting myself did I say that such assertions about the New Deal were absurd. But then I was laughed at — as if it were hilarious to say that the New Deal did anything but exacerbate the Depression.

Afterwords, suffering pangs of self-doubt, I wondered whether I and most of the country are the crazy ones. Sure, the vast majority of Americans think the New Deal worked well. But are conservatives right? Did the New Deal’s “massive government intervention prolong the Great Depression?”

Ummm … no.

Upon deeper examination, I discovered that the right bases its New Deal revisionism on the short-lived recession in a year straddling 1937 and 1938. But that was four years into Roosevelt’s term — four years marked by spectacular economic growth. Additionally, the fleeting decline happened not because of the New Deal’s spending programs, but because Roosevelt momentarily listened to conservatives and backed off them. As Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman notes, in 1937-38, FDR “was persuaded to balance the budget” and “cut spending and the economy went back down again.”


OK — if the verifiable evidence proves the New Deal did not prolong the Depression, what about historians — do they “pretty much agree” on the opposite?

Again, no.

As Newsweek’s Daniel Gross reports, “One would be very hard-pressed to find a serious professional historian who believes that the New Deal prolonged the Depression.”

So… conservative pundits are dead wrong about the facts, and are completely misrepresenting the scholarly consensus?  Does this sound uncannily familiar to anyone else?

Entry Filed under: Economy,Environment,Media,Politics,Republicans


  • 1. Dash RipRock III  |  January 6th, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    Al Gore has really stepped in it this time. He could have spent the rest of his global warming career collecting money by spreading fear over events that were a century or at least half century in the future. Oh, but that wasn’t good enough for Big Al. He’s now told the biggest global warming whopper of his alarmist career:


    When I heard this I assumed it was a rumor started by skeptics to make Gore look bad. It wasn’t until I viewed the video that I realized what Gore had done. Gore has started a five year credibility countdown timer ticking and it’s up to all of us to make sure that he is held accountable and proven to be a fraud when his dire prediction aimed at drumming up support doesn’t come true.

    The mainstream media isn’t going to let this video see the light of day because they, unlike Al, understand the precarious position in which he has placed himself.

    It is therefore up to us to spread the word about Big Al’s prediction. He must be exposed for the fear mongering opportunist that he has become.

    To view the video, please visit the following site and click on the picture of Big Al holding up five fingers.

    While visiting this site, you might want to watch a preview of the film “Not Evil, Just wrong” or watch “The Great Global Warming Swindle” which is found in the video section. Happy Viewing!!!

  • 2. Interrobang  |  January 9th, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    Speak of the devil (or a global warming denialist), see his horns.

    I’m having this nasty melting feeling in the pit of my stomach, that this Roosevelt revisionism is kind of the opposite of Reagan revisionism — where they took a former actor with oatmeal between his ears and turned him into Saint Ronnie, Commie-Slayer, Destroyer of Soviet Unions. They’re so desperate to rehab Gilded Age economic practice that they’ll say anything to turn FDR into the Antichrist. Where the nasty melting feeling really comes in is, I have a hunch it might work. It might take a while, but it completely would not surprise me if, in 20 years, “FDR and the New Deal made the Great Depression worse” is just one of those things that “everyone knows.”

    You heard it here first.

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