Barack Obama, in an interview that just aired on “Meet the Press,” acknowledged that the federal deficit was already massive, likely over $1 trillion, and yet he said that wouldn’t dissuade him from pushing an economic stimulus package that would be “substantial.” Obama said that we have to get a “blood infusion to the patient” first, and couldn’t be concerned about the short-term deficit. Nor, apparently, will the deficit sidetrack his health care, education, or energy agenda.
What’s clear is that Obama has fully embraced Keynesian economics and the idea of deficit spending, which was discredited in the last century. Despite the massive New Deal projects that FDR employed upon taking office, unemployment remained in the double-digits until WWII.
Also, what’s interesting is that in a departure from his campaign rhetoric, our new president-elect now says that the economic crisis we face is “nothing compared” to what we were going through when FDR took office in 1933. But what he didn’t acknowledge is that when FDR took office — before the New Deal, before the Great Society — federal spending was just over 7 percent of GDP, but now it’s above 20 percent, or nearly triple in proportional terms. In other words, FDR had a lot more fiscal agility than Obama does.