After the GOP debate last night at the Reagan Library, it’s worthwhile to present a response.
Economic conditions – and the GOP – are very similar in 2011 to what they were in the early 1930s. The economy had been destroyed by speculation, over leveraging by banks, and too much debt in households and businesses. When that bubble burst, the country suffered a deep depression. By the time FDR assumed office in 1933, the Great Depression was already in its 3rd year. Unemployment was nearly 25%. Thousands of teenagers like my own father had left home and were riding the rails, looking for work. Millions had lost their homes, their businesses and their savings. Family groups moved in together: grandparents, children, great grandchildren, aunts and uncles all sharing a single household. Back yard gardens expanded to provide the families’ food. Fathers walking miles, endlessly searching for work. Breadlines and soup kitchens. Senior citizens jammed into what were euphemistically called “old folks homes.”
The GOP prescription for economic vitality proposed during the 1935 – ’36 campaign was the same one promoted by the GOP today: austerity, ending social security, reducing taxes on the wealthy. When FDR agreed to some of the GOP austerity plans in 1937, the economy – still enduring over 14% unemployment – dropped back into recession, causing unemployment to peak at 19%.
Why should anyone believe the same GOP ideas that failed to work in the 1930s would work now? FDR, as shown in this video, was right.