Today FDR is proclaimed one of, if not the greatest American presidents. Why?
“He got us out of the Depression.” Many liberal writers have written hundreds of books on Roosevelt and today this is an accepted fact and so appears in our textbooks. But is it actually true?
The U.S. has experienced a number of depressions, but they were typically over within two years. This was accomplished by a “tough love’ policy: Cut taxes, cut spending, raise interest rates, let the inefficient fail and find other endeavors, and give business the opportunity to succeed without governmental interference.
In the election of 1932 Roosevelt attacked Hoover for extravagant spending and promised he would cut taxes and balance the budget. He raised taxes (in 1942 he signed an executive order placing a 100 percent tax on all income over $25,000), removed the gold standard so he could manipulate the market, was hostile to business and frightened away investment.
Henry Morgenthau, Roosevelt’s secretary of the Treasury, stated to the Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee in 1939: “We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. 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.” Do you notice a parallel with the policies of the present administration?
While this was worldwide depression, Canada and the European countries made significantly more progress in the 1930s than the U.S., due to the many regulations and hostility to businesses. The Dow, which hit 389 in 1939, never reached that mark again until the early 1950s, almost 10 years after Roosevelt’s death.
Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it (George Santayana).