From FDR’s “New Deal” to Obama’s “Drowning in Debt”

January 24, 2016


30 miles southeast of Las Vegas is a little thing we call Hoover Dam.  2,000 miles to the East is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 700 miles North East of it, the Lincoln Tunnel and 2,900 miles back to the West, a Golden Gate spans San Francisco Bay. Scattered between these purely American icons in towns and villages across the country are literally thousands of schools, post offices, and courthouses that all share the common thread of history and the era of the Great Depression

Celebrating its 80th birthday this year, Hoover Dam provides clean electricity to over 8 million people, receives over a million visitors a year and was built in the depths of the Great Depression as part of Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal”.  Same with the Lincoln Tunnel that transports over 100,000 vehicles a day between New Jersey and Midtown Manhattan.  The Great Smoky Mountain buildings, trails and stone bridges that millions of visitors enjoy each year were originally restored and built by the young men of the Civilian Conservation Corps.  And while the Golden Gate Bridge was technically not a New Deal program, it provided an immeasurable lift to the country’s psyche at the time.  That no matter how bad things might be, America was still capable of doing great things.

This column is not to debate the New Deal, but rather to contrast who we once were against what we have become.

In 2009, Jim Powell, at Forbes put the approximate cost of the New Deal at around 50 billion for the time period of 1933 to 1940.  Using an inflation modifier of 18 based upon a base year of 1933 that comes to 900 billion in today’s dollars.

Now, let’s compare what the nation got for its money during FDR’s first 7 years and contrast it with what the Obama administration has delivered to date.

Stop for a moment and contemplate over the years how many times you’ve read a plaque on a building or seen a dam or a bridge or a tunnel that was built during the worst economic depression this country has ever known.  Now do the same for the past 7 years.  I dare you to name one landmark, one building, just one project, worthy of comparison to any from the New Deal that still stand with us today.

At the start of 2009, the debt of the United States stood at a little over 10 trillion dollars.  Today it is just shy of 19 trillion and projected to double 2009’s 10 trillion amount sometime within the next two years.

As a grandchild of New Deal era grandparents I grew up in constant awe of what they did with what they had.  Not a day goes by, that I am still not amazed that for only a tenth of just what we have borrowed these last 7 years, let alone actually spent, how they left us a legacy none compared.

And I am disgusted that for all the trillions stolen from the future, our grandchildren’s children won’t have even one tangible project to look back on and feel the pride in past accomplishment that we can today.

Oh sure, there’s some Obama “shovel ready” projects scattered about, and the bird cage liners made from the bankruptcy filings of Solyndra, Fisker and a few dozen other crony based failures provide a nice recycling touch, but that’s about it.

But perhaps not all is lost.

At least the next time you hear Mr. Obama condescendingly quip to his political opponents “that’s not who we are”, you can now nod your head in agreement and honestly say to yourself, “yep, you’ve got that right”.

PUBLISHER’s NOTE:  A version of this column first appeared in the January 24, 2016 print edition of the Joplin Globe.

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