This is the second in an occasional series examining how Republican control of Congress might affect policy debates in the next two years. Democrats are warning that if Republicans capture the House—and perhaps also the Senate—in this November’s election, they would abolish cabinet departments, repeal Obamacare, and privatize social security. They might want to do these things, but they won’t be able to overcome a Senate filibuster or a presidential veto.
We sometimes hear that Barack Obama and his top people read The New Republic, but they must not have been paying attention during the campaign when we ran an article titled “History Lesson: FDR Solves the Mortgage Crisis,” by Andrew Jakabovics. If they had done so, they might have proceeded a little differently in dealing with the current crisis and with the controversy over foreclosures. In 1931, the United States began to suffer from a foreclosure crisis similar to the one today—in that year, 1.4 percent of all homeowners lost their homes.
It was mid-September, and I was driving around downtown Oakland, trying to find the campaign headquarters of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown. Some weeks earlier, I had decided to cover the close-fought California governor’s race, and, after contacting both campaigns, I promptly began getting several e-mails a day from the efficient operation of former eBay CEO Meg Whitman. But Brown’s outfit was a different story. His press guy, Sterling Clifford, promised to put me on a list, but I never received anything. I called and e-mailed Clifford several times, but he didn’t respond.
The terms “recession” and “depression” were once used to suggest that a downturn was not as bad as a “panic” or “crisis.” In fact, for the first years of his presidency, Herbert Hoover chose to refer to the downturn as a “depression” in an effort to convey that what the country was experiencing was just a temporary indentation. Only in 1931 did Hoover begin to speak of a “Great Depression.” Our current downturn has also been plagued by word games. Faced with the fear that the U.S.
Last week, while talking to Representative Barney Frank about more general subjects, I asked him, as I was leaving, whether he thought it was important for the Obama administration to appoint Elizabeth Warren as head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This is what he said: It is very important. I think they would make a big political mistake [by not appointing her]. I have defended them that they didn’t get any better results with Congress. Why didn’t they get a public option? I agreed with their justification that they did the best they could.
[Guest Post by John B. Judis] Want to make me happy? Read carefully James Galbraith’s essay, “Scare the Hell out of Bankers,” on our web site. And read it all the way through because the argument isn’t clear until the end. It’s one of the best things I’ve read on the role of finance in the recession and the recovery. It goes beyond the debates liberals had 18 months ago about finance. First, on the question of nationalization of the banks. At the time, some of us held out for nationalization of the big banks as the only way to forestall a depression.
“Very well-written … but dead screaming wrong,” my critic wrote in an email that a friend forwarded to me. “Judis has managed to write about the Tea Party movement without referring to its profound racism.” This sums up the chief complaint that I received about the article I wrote on the Tea Party movement. It is also a common interpretation of the Tea Parties, especially on the political left.
My wife wanted an iPad as soon as she saw Steve Jobs’s announcement last January. She even had a place set out for it. It would go in the kitchen where it would be available for looking up recipes, as well as reading the morning newspaper. But life is disappointment: The iPad wouldn’t come out for another four months, and when it did, it cost about $300 more than we could afford. Luckily, one surfaced around The New Republic offices, and I got a chance to play with it for several weeks. And so did my wife.