Too Close for Comfort

When Franklin D. Roosevelt was campaigning for reelection in 1936, his opponents began to call attention to the president’s failure to keep the promises he had made while campaigning for election in 1932. Roosevelt had promised, among other things,¬†that he would balance the budget, yet in the fiscal years 1934, 1935, and 1936, which were entirely¬†the¬†responsibility of his administration, he had not come close to balancing the budget.

Pressed by advisers, Roosevelt decided to go on the offensive to dispose of this point against him. In a speech in Pittsburgh on October 1, 1936, he explained:

The only way to keep the Government out of the red is to keep the people out of the red. And so we had to balance the budget of the American people before we could balance the budget of the national Government.

A few days ago, while introducing the Obama administration’s budget for fiscal year 2010, President Barack Obama said:

While we must add to our deficits in the short term to provide immediate relief to families and get our economy moving, it is only by restoring fiscal discipline that we can produce sustained growth and shared prosperity.

Many people have been calling for a new New Deal. The Obamistas seem to have heard their plea.

Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute, author or editor of over fourteen Independent books, and Editor at Large of Independent’s quarterly journal The Independent Review.
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