What Treasury Needs Is A Distraction
May 05, 2009
The bank stress tests are beginning to create a perception problem, but not--as you might think--for banks. Rather the issue is top level Administration officials' own optics (spin jargon for how we think about our rulers). At one level, the government's approach to banks--delay doing anything until the economy stabilizes--is working out nicely. This is the counterpart of the macroeconomic Summers Strategy and in principle it is brilliant.
Herbert Hoover, Still Not A Liberal
March 31, 2009
In budget hearings today, Kent Conrad decried "Hoover economics." This prompted National Review's David Freddoso to trot out the conservative vogue belief that Hoover was actually a big government liberal. I adressed this in my review of Amity Shlaes' influential New Deal revisionist tome "The Forgotten Man": Shlaes's answer is to implicate Hoover as a New Deal man himself: Hoover had called for a bank holiday to end the banking crisis; Roosevelt's first act was to declare a bank holiday to sort out the banks and build confidence. ...
Regulate, Baby, Regulate
March 18, 2009
As the United States faces its biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression, Barack Obama and his team have been looking to Franklin Delano Roosevelt for help. The influence so far is obvious: The stimulus measure passed by Congress in February includes money for building infrastructure, strengthening unemployment insurance, and helping state governments--all reminiscent of FDR's New Deal. It is now necessary for Obama to take the model one step further.
Wasting Away in Hooverville
March 18, 2009
The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression By Amity Shlaes (HarperCollins, 464 pp., $26.95) Herbert Hoover By William E. Leuchtenburg (Times Books, 208 pp., $22) Nothing to Fear: FDR's Inner Circle and the Hundred Days that Created Modern America By Adam Cohen (Penguin Press, 372 pp., $29.95) A generation ago, the total dismissal of the New Deal remained a marginal sentiment in American politics. Ronald Reagan boasted of having voted for Franklin Roosevelt. Neoconservatives long maintained that American liberalism had gone wrong only in the 1960s.
Run Like It's 1932
October 10, 2008
WASHINGTON--Hope versus fear, new versus old: Barack Obama and John McCain have placed their bets. These are the terms on which the 2008 presidential campaign will be decided. That's why it's unfair for political bystanders to attack Obama and McCain for offering few specifics as to how they'd fix an ailing economy.
Cool Vs. Crotchety
October 07, 2008
The second debate between Barack Obama and John McCain did little--in fact I would say nothing--to alter the outcome of the election. Outside of McCain's referring to Obama as "that one," which suddenly revealed the contempt he feels for the Illinois senator, there were no egregious statements that can be repeated over and over again on talk shows.
Devils in America
February 16, 2004
Reds: McCarthyism in Twentieth-Century America By Ted Morgan (Random House, 685 pp., $35) NEARLY FIFTY YEARS AGO the United States Senate voted to censure Senator Joseph McCarthy. Within three years of his disgrace, McCarthy was dead, his health destroyed by heavy drinking. His time in the limelight had been brief.
July 08, 2002
Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich by Kevin Phillips (Broadway Books, 432 pp., $29.95) Stupid White Men ... and Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation! by Michael Moore (ReganBooks, 304 pp., $24.95) I. As Lord Bryce noted in 1888 in The American Commonwealth, the American way of choosing presidents rarely produces politicians of quality. Subsequent events vindicated his point: in the half-century after his book appeared, Americans elected to the presidency such undistinguished men as William McKinley, William Howard Taft, Warren G.
Jesse Goes Country
August 03, 1987
THE QUESTION sounded innocent enough. During a breakfast with reporters at Washington's Sheraton Carlton Hotel on June 5, Jesse Jackson was asked: Public opinion polls show that Europeans have far more confidence in Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev as a peacemaker than they do in President Reagan—does he share their view? Jackson didn't hesitate.
Hoover and Hubris
November 16, 1932
A recent article in The New Republic was entitled "Hoover's Tragedy." Some of us thought at the time that the tragedy was rather that of the people who had believed Mr.