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Michael Lind: Obama needs to follow FDR, Eisenhower

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Omaha Steve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 09:16 PM
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Michael Lind: Obama needs to follow FDR, Eisenhower

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Michael Lind explains that no matter what the radical free market types say, public provision of public goods isn't socialism. And Republicans like Dwight D. Eisenhower would agree.

Obama's Timid Liberalism

By Michael Lind, New America Foundation

Salon, March 6, 2009

Barack Obama's bold, ambitious budget plan proves that he is the true heir of Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal. Consider Obama's Rooseveltian energy plan. In 1939, President Roosevelt decided to mobilize Americans to create a new source of energy: atomic power. Although he was urged to focus on government-funded R&D, FDR chose a different route. He wisely encouraged private capital to invest in atomic energy research by a variety of tax incentives. To make atomic power investment more palatable to private capital, FDR boldly chose to make all other forms of energy in the U.S. uneconomical, by slapping high taxes on kerosene and coal. With the money from the new federal Kerosene Cap and Trade system, President Roosevelt and Congress funded a small-scale federal research program, in the hope of attracting much greater private investment ...

Wait. What's that you say? FDR didn't do that? He poured federal money into the all-public Manhattan Project and created the first atomic bomb in a couple of years? He didn't tax kerosene to make it uneconomical and to encourage private investment in atomic power?

Oh. OK. Never mind.

But what about Social Security? In 1935, FDR signed the historic Social Security Act. It created a complex "retirement mandate" system, forcing all elderly Americans to buy expensive annuities from private insurance companies, without, however, imposing price controls on the insurance companies ...

What? FDR didn't force the elderly to subsidize private annuity brokers? He imposed a single, simple, efficient tax to pay for a single, simple, efficient public system of retirement benefits?

All right, then, forget FDR. He was a socialist, anyway. Let Dwight Eisenhower serve as a model for the Obama administration. President Eisenhower authorized the biggest infrastructure program in American history, when he signed the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act of 1956. The interstate highway act created an elaborate system of private tax incentives and public-private partnerships (PPPs) to encourage private corporations to build national highways. To begin with, all U.S. highways were leased to domestic and foreign corporations for a period of decades. Second, all U.S. highways were set up with toll booths, so that American drivers would be forced to repay the corporate owners of the national highways every few dozen miles. Finally, a system of high-speed lanes with higher tolls was created, so that the rich could whiz down the road while middle-class and poor Americans were stuck in traffic jams ...

FULL story at link.

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tonysam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 09:24 PM
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1. Excellent Piece.
Neoliberalism will NOT work. It is trying to beat the Republicans at their own (losing, destructive) game.

We need to get back to bedrock Democratic, liberal principles.
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jedr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-07-09 09:49 PM
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2. an other great Michale Lind book "Made in Texas"
explains the ideology of the Bushes and their Neocon friends. Read this book when W first took office and it gave me the chills. Everything that was told has come to pass.
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