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Joe Biden Wants An ‘FDR-Size Presidency.’ What Does That Even Mean?

What Does It Mean To Have An ‘FDR-Sized Presidency?’

What set Roosevelt and the New Deal apart ― and what most contemporary politicians and political observers use to justify their own comparisons to his legacy ― is the scale of ambition.

One aspect is the amount of money to be spent, and Biden is certainly proposing significant figures. He already signed a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill. He is now pushing a $2.3 trillion infrastructure and economic spending package while promising another $1 trillion legislative package covering tax changes and additional social spending. This is undeniably a huge sum of money to fund a sweeping program.

But the amount of money may matter less, in terms of comparison, than we think.

In his new book “Why the New Deal Matters,” historian Eric Rauchway explains that it wasn’t the dollar figure of the New Deal that made for an FDR-size presidency. It was the purpose of the programs and the meaning the American people took from them that mattered more.

That’s why other, more recent government interventions, “while immense in size, nevertheless fall short of the New Deal in terms of ambition,” Rauchway writes, referring to the inadequate bailouts and stimulus plans passed in response to the Great Recession.

“The metaphor of ‘bailout’ suggests the ship is sound; it has merely been swamped by a catastrophic swell and once the water has been expelled, it will again be seaworthy,” Rauchway writes. “Likewise ‘stimulus,’ which supposes the organism is healthy and merely needs a strong jolt of caffeine; or ‘pump-priming,’ which holds that the mechanism functions properly and the aquifer still yields plenty of water.” 

FDR did something different. “By contrast, New Dealers did not assume the United States was basically sound as it stood, but sought to strengthen its structure ― sometimes by substantially altering it,” he writes.

Read entire article at HuffPost