Andrew Leonard wrote a must-read piece for his column at Salon.com about the efforts of Right-wing propagandists, enabled in this case by the Wall Street Journal, to rewrite history to their liking by pushing the idea that Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal was a colossal failure. The latest Right-wing talking point about the New Deal is that it failed to reduce unemployment. Economists Harold L. Cole and Lee. E. Ohanian wrote in Monday's WSJ that, "the goal of the New Deal was to get Americans back to work. But the New Deal didn't restore employment. In fact, there was even less work on average during the New Deal than before FDR took office."
Cole and Ohanian seem to think that government programs that were designed, in part, specifically to put people to work, simply didn't. How did they arrive at this astounding conclusion? It's simple, really, if one follows the lead that radical Right-wing propagandist Amity Shlaes spelled out in a WSJ article last year; just don't count as employed anyone working "temporary jobs in emergency programs" such as the jobs provided by the New Deal. (Shlaes has a new book out called "The Forgotten Man" with the subtitle "A New History of the Great Depression" – now if that doesn't scream revisionism, what does?) There are millions of people who worked for the Works Progress Administration (WPA), Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and other programs who might argue that they did indeed have jobs - jobs that allowed them to do things like eat.
This is all too true to Republican form: When the data doesn't tell you what you want to believe, simply change the data. This is exactly the kind of "thinking" that had us hunting for nonexistent Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq despite the lack of any credible supporting evidence. This is the "thinking" that drives Global Warming denial. Instead of reviewing information and determining an appropriate position on a given matter, Right-wingers begin with a desired position and then tweak "evidence" to support the pre-determined position.
There is plenty of perfectly legitimate debate to be had surrounding the current economic meltdown and what, if anything, should be done about it. But I cannot take Republicans seriously if they are going to begin the debate with a position that they simply assume is correct or one that is built upon incomplete or faulty information, especially if said information is incomplete or faulty by design.
Other than dumb luck, how can these people expect any of their ideas to actually work?