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Franklin Delano Bush

Here’s a letter I sent on October 20th to the Washington Times:

Dear Editor:

Your equating George W. Bush with FDR is spot-on (“Franklin Delano Bush,” October 20).  Both presidents recklessly increased government’s role in the economy – a move that proved (in FDR’s case) and will prove (in Bush’s case) to do nothing but saturate the economy with such uncertainty as to frighten away entrepreneurs and investors.

But popular history will almost surely remember Bush, not as a second FDR, but as a second Herbert Hoover.  The myth will be made that Bush was a staunch free-marketeer who was succeeded in the Oval Office by a charismatic saint whose hyperactive interventions saved the economy (even though precious little evidence of economic salvation will appear in the data).  History will forget Bush’s interventions just as it has forgotten Hoover’s – as it has forgotten that Hoover signed the largest tariff hike in U.S. history; as it has forgotten that Hoover tried to create jobs by deporting hundreds of thousands of Mexicans; as it has forgotten that Hoover signed the Emergency Relief and Construction Act, the Federal Home Loan Bank Act, and created the Reconstruction Finance Corporation; as it has forgotten that, with the Revenue Act of 1932, Hoover raised the top marginal tax rate on personal incomes from 25 percent to 63 percent (in addition to raising the corporate-tax rate).

History will repeat itself, blaming capitalism for a problem caused and intensified by government interventions.

Donald J. Boudreaux

By the way, even the Washington Post — no catacomb of free-market sympathies — understands that blaming capitalism for today’s financial turmoil is absurdly simplistic.