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He's No FDR

Barack Obama’s shrinking presidency.

Mar 8, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 24 • By FRED BARNES
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It’s an unfair comparison. Roosevelt’s reputation for imposing a liberal makeover on America is impossible to match. But Obama has tried. And in one significant way he’s been successful. Like FDR, he’s broadened the size and scope of the federal government. Should his health care and cap and trade bills pass, along with the authority to seize any financial institution whose collapse would be “a systemic risk” to the economy, Obama would put himself in FDR’s class as a supersizer of Washington’s power. He’s not there yet.

By following another Roosevelt example, Obama has bought trouble. FDR thought government spending would spur economic recovery. It didn’t. And his surge in regulation and tax increases actually impeded economic growth and job creation.

So, too, with Obama. Same policies, same result. Yet he appears puzzled why there were 4 million fewer jobs in the country after a year of his presidency. Liberal critics such as economist Paul Krugman insist FDR’s stimulus wasn’t large enough and neither is Obama’s. Conservatives believe Obama’s policies are wrong, and what works are across-the-board individual and corporate tax cuts. Either way, Obama comes up short.

For Obama, the most brutal disparity between him and FDR is likely to come in November. After the Democratic landslide of 1932, Democrats won still more seats in Congress in 1934. In this year’s midterm congressional elections, that’s an outcome Obama can only dream about.


Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.



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