It's understandable that in seeking to figure out a rationale for opposing the Obama stimulus program, conservatives would seek to find ways to criticize the New Deal, Franklin Roosevelt's big-spending set of Government programs that helped put millions to work and build much of this nation's infrastructure during the Great Depression. But lately they've gone from constructive criticism to the dumfoundingly stupid, claiming that the New Deal actually prolonged the Great Depression. In so doing, they tend to skip over the years 1933 (when it was put into place), 1934, 1935 and 1936, instead focusing on a short recession that marred the recovery during the years 1937-1938. Of course they ignore that this recession was caused precisely because Roosevelt changed course after the 1936 election and, taking advice from fiscal conservatives, he actually did cut spending on his programs and balance the budget.
Well, this doesn't suit the talk radio hosts who first started putting this notion into play, so I guess if history and facts don't work for them, what's a little historical revisionism, right?
In his latest column, David Sirota quotes University of California historian Eric Rauchway, who examined the the actual data and found that
Excepting 1937-1938, unemployment fell each year of Roosevelt's first two terms [while] the U.S. economy grew at average annual growth rates of 9 percent to 10 percent
Remember, in 1937-1938, was the year that Roosevelt tried to balance the budget by cutting spending.
Hence, if there is a lesson for Obama here, it is this one: DON'T take the advice of fiscal conservatives.