Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Right-Wing Lies vs. New Deal Truth (part 10 of 10): "The New Deal did not work!"

(U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.)

U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) summed up the modern right-wing philosophy on the New Deal when he said: "...we know for sure that the big spending programs of the New Deal did not work."

But when FDR took office in 1933, the national unemployment rate was about 20-23%. In 1940, before the U.S. entered the war, it was at 9.5% (McConnell says it was 15%, but that figure does not include Americans working in the WPA, CCC, NYA, etc.). Also, in the three years before FDR took office, the nation's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) plummeted by 12% in 1930, 16% in 1931, and 23% in 1932. During the New Deal, America saw its GDP skyrocket. These are the figures from 1933 to 1940: -3.9%, +17%, +11%, +14%, +10%, -6%, +7%, and +10%. (Figures from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, here.)

(A graph showing rising GDP during the New Deal era. Image by Brent McKee.)

If the big spending programs of the New Deal did not work, how do we explain the American economy expanding, after World War II, along thousands of miles of New Deal roads, across thousands of New Deal bridges, and out of hundreds of New Deal airports?

If the big spending programs of the New Deal did not work, why are we still enjoying & utilizing so many thousands of New Deal creations (see, e.g., The Living New Deal)? It seems just a tad hypocritical to scold the New Deal, and then use a WPA-built road to take the family on a vacation to a CCC-created state park.

(A historical marker at Swallow Falls State Park in western Maryland, honoring the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps. Photo by Brent McKee.)

If the big spending programs of the New Deal did not work, why is there a statue of Ronald Reagan--the icon of the right-wing movement--standing at a big New Deal project site (see next photo)? And why did Reagan enjoy the WPA & CCC-developed Camp David more than any other president? And why did Reagan write in his autobiography, "The WPA was one of the most productive elements of FDR's alphabet soup of agencies because it put people to work building roads, bridges, and other projects...it gave men and women a chance to make some money along with the satisfaction of knowing they earned it."

(The Ronald Reagan statue at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, formerly called Washington National Airport. The airport is a New Deal creation, utilizing funds from the PWA, labor from the WPA, and a great deal of advocacy & arm-twisting by FDR. Photo by Brent McKee.)

(A presentation I made about the WPA's infrastructure improvements during the New Deal era. The presentation includes some nice narration, music, statistics, and historic film & photos. YouTube link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snOXQsVipwE.)

Aside from the work & construction components of the New Deal, if FDR's alphabet soup was so bad, why do we still enjoy FDIC protection for our bank accounts, Social Security for our grandparents, and unemployment insurance when we get laid off via corporate greed, corruption, and crime?

So, let's sum up the New Deal: Lower unemployment; higher GDP; infrastructure for our post-World War II economic expansion; thousands of New Deal projects still being used today; Reagan's statue at a large New Deal site; Reagan praising the WPA in his autobiography; and New Deal policies that still help us, three-quarters of a century later.

That's failure?? Wow, okaaaay...

(U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren explains how a New Deal-era policy--Glass-Steagall--helped stabilize the American economy for decades. Excellent commentary by Cenk Uygur. Original YouTube link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTWfa-iO9Nc.)

The truth is, people who say the "New Deal did not work" are people who either (a) don't know their history, (b) do know their history but place zero cultural or economic value on roads, bridges, schools, airports, state parks, and public art, or (c) work for think tanks, media outlets, legislative bodies, or non-profits that are funded & controlled by right-wing millionaires & billionaires who don't want the public to know the truth about the New Deal. Why? Because, if the public ever fully realized (1) just how badly they're being treated by Corporate America and our corporate-controlled government, and (2) just how valuable the New Deal was to this country, they would demand a new & stronger New Deal. And a new & stronger New Deal would require more tax revenue from the super-wealthy and, perhaps, fewer 24-karat gold bathtubs for their children to soak and gloat in.

Don't listen to the right-wing lies....learn the New Deal truth. 

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