If you are paying attention you probably already know the fist line of attack against Obama's plan to stimulate the economy is to rewrite history by claiming FDR's massive infrastructure spending programs "actually prolonged the Great Depression" and that historians are all pretty much in agreement on that fact. This, of course, flies in the face of decades of research and opinion to the contrary, but in the world of soundbites facts rarely come into play. Repeat it often enough and forcefully enough and the most ludicrous fantasies become accepted reality.
So, it's important that this nonsense be challenged at every opportunity, not for political gain but to ensure we don't prolong George W. Bush and conservative economic disaster beyond these last eight years.
David Sirota at Salon makes a nice play on this by simply looking at the facts and restating them in easily understandable terms. Choice quotes:
On deeper examination, I discovered that the right bases its New Deal revisionism on the short-lived recession in a year straddling 1937 and 1938. But that was four years into Roosevelt's term -- four years marked by spectacular economic growth. Additionally, the fleeting decline happened not because of the New Deal's spending programs, but because Roosevelt momentarily listened to conservatives and backed off them. As Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman notes, in 1937-38, FDR "was persuaded to balance the budget" and "cut spending and the economy went back down again."
"Excepting 1937-1938, unemployment fell each year of Roosevelt's first two terms [while] the U.S. economy grew at average annual growth rates of 9 percent to 10 percent," writes University of California historian Eric Rauchway.
According to Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, "Only with the New Deal's rehabilitation of the financial system in 1933-35 did the economy begin its slow emergence from the Great Depression." In fact, even famed conservative economist Milton Friedman admitted that the New Deal's Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was "the structural change most conducive to monetary stability since ... the Civil War."
And remember, most historians do NOT believe FDR's policies prolonged the great depression, As Newsweek's Daniel Gross reports, "One would be very hard-pressed to find a serious professional historian who believes that the New Deal prolonged the Depression." try telling that to waterheads like Bill O'Reilly and his crew at Fox..