Originally posted by karnachz
[b]Not true. FDR was re-elected in a landslide in 1936, by a margin of 60.8% to 36.5% of the popular vote, and 523 to 8 Electoral College votes. This reflects the overwhelming success of the New Deal during his first term. Economic measures including GDP and unemployment rates also show that the economy was clearly recovering.
Roosevel carried all but 2 states against his Republican challenger, Alf Landon. This amazing result is often emphasized by historians. What is less well known is the fact that in early 1936 Roosevelt was behind in the Gallup polls and even trailed in his private polls. In Februrary 1936, Emil Hurja, Roosevelt's personal pollster, concluded that if nominated Landon could beat Roosevelt were the election held that month. High unemployment was plaguing the president and the Supreme Court had recently struck down the Agricultural Adjustment Act and the National Recovery Administration, two linchpins of the New Deal. Also, the Republicans had recently captured two congreassional seats in open elections in Rhode Island and Michigan. In addition, the New York state legislature--where Roosevelt began his political career--had just swung over to the Republicans. This should not be suprising--the New Deal had not ended the Depression and voters were responding accordingly.
However, in 1936 the president developed a strategy that swamped the Republicans. It can be described in 3 words: subsidies for votes. He would spend record amounts of tax dollars on programs that would give people a vested interest in voting for his re-election. Gary Dean Best, in his excellent book Pride, Prejudice, and Politics, outlines Roosevelt's tactic of blitzing key election districts with federal funds.
For example, he met with Henry Wallace, the agricultural secretary, and gae the following order, "Henry, through July, August, Septemeber, October and up to the 5th of November I want cotton to sell at 12 cents a pound. I do not care how you do it. That is your problem. It can't go below 12 cents".
When the WPA had spent all its money, and was faced with throwing people out of work on October 1, Roosevelt ordered Henry Morgenthau not to let anyone b e laid off. As Morgenthau recalled Roosevelt's words, "he does not give a damn where they get the money". With a Gallup poll showing relief workers going 5-1 for Roosevelt over Landon, the president had strong incentives to transfer as much wealth as possible from the private to the public sector.
Landon and fellow Repulicans all over the country were perplexed over how to combat the "subsides for votes" strategy. If they attacked Roosevelt's programs, he would ask what they would do differenty. If they said, "End programs", then the many Americans who were becoming addicted to the programs would protest and call the Republicans heartless, uncaring, and selfish. If Landon said he would continue the programs in different ways, then why should they switch over to his side? With Roosevelt they had government jobs. Why take chances with the Republicans? The subsidy-for-votes strategy helps explain the paradox of how the New Deal could be such an economic calamity for the nation and such a politcal triumph for Roosevelt.
With the dramatic rise in government spending on public works, farm subsides, and various relief programs, the top income tax rate skyrocketed from 24% in 1929 to 79% in 1935. In 1941 FDR even proposed raising the top rate to 99.5% on all income over $100,000. Not suprisingly, entrepreneours were stifled and refused to invest and have their capital confiscated. Unemployment under the New Deal never dropped below 14% and averaged over 17%.
As the Great Depression persisted, even Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau admitted that the New Deal had been a failure. On May 6, 1939, he confessed, "We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work.....We have never made good on our promises...I say after 8 years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started....And an enormous debt to boot!".
In regards to Obama, it appears he is repeating history in that unemployment has gravitated to 10% even though he declared it would not go over 8%. In addition, many of his proposals target small businesses such as the new cap and trade and universal health care programs. Unfortunately, small business accounts for 2/3 of the new jobs every year so what do you suppose the unemployment rates will go to if they are inacted?.