The New York Times and Fiscal Conservatism…Back Then

By October 28, 2008Economy

The New York Times has a nice little interactive webpage devoted to its editorial endorsements for president over the years, demonstrating that the editors have not always been so predictable in their support. They’ve endorsed Republicans before: Eisenhower in ’56, for example. They’re making it up to Illinois Senators this year.

The one that came as a surprise was the Times’ endorsement of Wendell Wilkie over FDR in 1940. An historical curiousity…

The fundamental trouble is that the Administration has thrown overboard the central fiscal theory in which it professed to believe, even as late as 1936. It has abandoned the idea that the best contribution it could make to re-employment and recovery is to put its own fiscal house in order It now believes, and the President frankly says this in his budget messages, that when business is lagging the Government out to go in debt deliberately in order to “create purchasing power” and “energy private enterprise.” This is the perfect Politician’s Paradise – a paradise in which public money is spent on a gigantic scale without any responsibility of raising an equivalent amount of money by taxation.

We believe that the results of a continuation of this policy will be precisely what Mr. Roosevelt himself said they would be in 1932 – “If, like a spendthrift, a nation throws discretion to the winds and is willing to make no sacrifice in spending * * * it is on the road to bankruptcy.” We believe that there is no real possibility whatever of checking the present trend toward bankruptcy so long as Mr. Roosevelt remains in office. It will be a desperately hard task at best. The only present hope lies in a change of Administrations.

UPDATE (4:05 p.m.): In other Great Depression political news, Henry Wallace’s grandson is campaigning for Sen. Obama in Iowa, the Clarinda Herald-Journal:

I’m here because my grandfather can’t be,” Henry Scott Wallace said. “I am trying to sort through the parallels between the financial crisis of today and the Great Depression and what they mean to the election coming up.”

Wallace explained his grandfather lived through the Great Depression and provided him with lessons that he feels could be applied to today’s problems.

“I am sure my grandfather would feel most strongly that government fell asleep at the switch and was not overseeing Wall Street. He favored government taking a more active role in the oversight of financial markets,” Wallace said.

Oh, Mr. Wallace, study history more closely. Your grandfather, at least the ’48 version, would be campaigning for Ralph Nader today. Since John Hagelin’s not running.

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