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Rep. Steve Austria: FDR caused the Great Depression.

By Amanda Terkel on February 11, 2009 at 12:01 pm

"Rep. Steve Austria: FDR caused the Great Depression."

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steveaustria.jpg In recent days, conservatives have been trying to block the economic recovery package by arguing that government spending will wreck the American economy. As an example, they point to FDR and the Great Depression. Earlier this month, for instance, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) inaccurately argued that the New Deal “exacerbated the Great Depression.” In a new interview with the Columbus Dispatch, Rep. Steve Austria (R-OH) joined in:

When (President Franklin) Roosevelt did this, he put our country into a Great Depression,” Austria said. “He tried to borrow and spend, he tried to use the Keynesian approach, and our country ended up in a Great Depression. That’s just history.”

The Columbus Dispatch then notes, “Most historians date the beginning of the Great Depression at or shortly after the stock-market crash of 1929; Roosevelt took office in 1933.” As Dean Baker has explained, “Roosevelt’s New Deal Agenda lowered the unemployment rate from 25 percent in 1933 to 10 percent in 1937.” The economy turned bad again when the “Blue Dogs of the Roosevelt era won sway and got Roosevelt to cut spending and raise taxes.”

Update

Austria has now backed off his comments, saying, “I did not mean to imply in any way that President Roosevelt was responsible for putting us into the Depression, but rather was trying to make the point that Roosevelt’s attempt to use significant spending to get us out of the Depression did not have the desired effect. Roosevelt did not put us into the Depression, but rather his policies could not pull the nation out of the recession.”

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