Who do you think should manage Ferriday water?|
Story Archives: Obama's nod to Roosevelt
- 2013 - 340 articles
- 2012 - 856 articles
- 2011 - 635 articles
- 2010 - 1276 articles
- 2009 - 1591 articles
- 2008 - 1763 articles
|Obama's nod to Roosevelt|
In promoting a huge economic stimulus package while he positions himself as a budget hawk, President-elect Barack Obama is borrowing a page from Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who also attempted to frame himself as a cautious steward of the federal budget, even as he prepared for unprecedented spending to prime the economy.
Obama is proposing a $775 billion stimulus plan that's eye-popping in scale, requiring government borrowing that could, by his own admission, bring trillion-dollar deficits for years to come.
At the same time, however, Obama is pledging to trim or eliminate government programs that are outmoded or ineffective.
He has not specified which programs might be subject to the ax.
All presidents give lip-service to the ideal of government efficiency, but it seems that few government programs at the federal level ever fade into the sunset.
The programs tend to develop political constituencies that make their elimination difficult.
Obama's dual themes of aggressive government spending and fiscal restraint remind us of Roosevelt's balancing act in the days shortly before he became president.
Roosevelt "spoke as though he could have his New Deal ó the phrase was just beginning to be capitalized ó and trim government too," H.W. Brands writes in his new biography of Roosevelt, "Traitor to His Class."
As a candidate, FDR promised that he would do a better job of managing federal spending than the incumbent president, Herbert Hoover, suggesting that all sorts of efficiencies could be found in federal departments.
"I regard reduction in federal spending as one of the most important issues in this campaign," FDR said before his election. "In my opinion, it is the most direct and effective contribution that government can make to business."
In fact, in his first days as president, Roosevelt asked Congress for authority to slash the federal budget. "Before long the image of Roosevelt as budget slasher would appear quaintly ironic, even ludicrous. ... Later generations would equate liberalism with largesse in government, but that was chiefly the legacy of Franklin Roosevelt," Brands adds.
We suspect that Obama will have no better luck casting himself as a fiscal conservative than FDR did.
--The (Baton Rouge) Advocate
|Frank Morris Murder Series|