FDR, The New Deal, and The Expansion of Federal Power


During his first presidential press conference, Barack Obama defended federal economic intervention, stating "there are several who have suggested that FDR was wrong to intervene back in the New Deal.  They are fighting battles that I thought were resolved a pretty long time ago."  "We were just amazed to hear him say that," says historian Anita Folsom. While this "idea is taught in colleges all over the country, we have to come to the realization that these big government ideas do not lead to prosperity."

In his 2008 book, New Deal or Raw Deal: How FDR's Economic Legacy Has Damaged America, historian Burton Folsom took on the idea that the New Deal "worked." Now he's collaborated on a new book with his wife Anita, FDR Goes to War: How Expanded Executive Power, Spiraling National Debt, and Restricted Civil Liberties Shaped Wartime America, which tackles the idea that Roosevelt was a great wartime leader. During the war, the book argues, the Roosevelt Administration stomped on civil liberties, fixed prices throughout the economy, ballooned the national debt, and brought the top income tax rate up to 94%.

The Folsoms see Roosevelt's big government approach as instrumental in shaping the modern world. From ObamaCare to the Community Reinvestment Act, they draw a direct line from FDR's actions to the worst public policies of today, along with the general view that "government programs are the solution to economic and political problems."

Bert and Anita Folsom sat down with Reason.tv's Nick Gillespie to discuss their new book and the enduring myths of FDR's presidency.

About 9:30 minutes. Shot by Meredith Bragg, Jim Epstein, and Joshua Swain and edited by Bragg.

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