The Remembered Man
Jonathan Chait has a good, long review of three books about the New Deal that can be read next to my story last month on the influence of Amity Shlaes and her revisionist history, “The Forgotten Man,” among Republicans.
At one point in her book, in fact, Shlaes actually concedes that Roosevelt’s Keynesian experiment succeeded when he tried it. “The spending was so dramatic that, finally, it functioned as Keynes … had hoped it would,” she writes about 1936, “Within a year unemployment would drop from 22 percent to 14 percent.” So Keynesian policy worked, and the main fiscal problem with the New Deal was that Roosevelt made too many concessions to the right. Here we are in agreement. So can conservatives stop carrying around *The Forgotten Man *like it’s Mao’s Little Red Book? Can we all go home now?
The problem with the Republican arguments for a combination of deep tax cuts and spending cuts is that no one can point to a recession that this program ended. Tax cuts and spending, yes. Tax increases and meddling with interest rates, yes. But the homespun wisdom of Republicans like Gov. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), that the government should cut back spending just like an average family is doing, is not backed up by anything.