Sounding Off: Obama repeating FDR's economic mistake

The comments by Chriss Street should not be surprising to anyone ("Community Commentary: Deficit spending a bad move for U.S.," July 25). The comments by Tom Egan are surprising and seem to be more emotional than historical fact ("Sounding Off: Treasurer's arguments were shallow," July 28). President Obama is doing pretty much what he said he was going to do. The effects were easily predictable as they were, as far back as the FDR administration.

Henry Morgenthau served as FDR's Treasury secretary. Thus Morgenthau, who served from 1934 to 1945, was to FDR what current Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is to Obama. Morgenthau wrote in 1939: "We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises. ... I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started ... and an enormous debt to boot!"

FDR's policies prolonged the Great Depression by seven years.

Two UCLA economists say they have figured out why the Great Depression dragged on for almost 15 years, and they blame a suspect previously thought to be beyond reproach: President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

After scrutinizing Roosevelt's record for four years, Harold L. Cole and Lee E. Ohanian conclude in a new study that New Deal policies signed into law 71 years ago thwarted economic recovery for seven long years.

"Why the Great Depression lasted so long has always been a great mystery, and because we never really knew the reason, we have always worried whether we would have another 10- to 15-year economic slump," said Ohanian, vice chairman of UCLA's Department of Economics. "We found that a relapse isn't likely unless lawmakers gum up a recovery with ill-conceived stimulus policies."

Little to nothing has changed since the 1930s. We are still making the same ill-advised public policy, based on social engineering concepts that have never been successful. The public sector employee rolls and benefits grow and the private sector shrinks as the tax burden grows. This is the true legacy of FDR.

AUGUST LIGHTFOOT lives in Newport Beach.

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