Liberals Revive FDR, Depression Nightmare: Launch Plans for New Type of WPA


With global markets still suffering under the weight of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and plans for a return to normalcy in American public life yet to be brought to the table, liberals apparently have a grand economic and public health solution in the offing: “Roosevelt-style” federal government programs.

That’s right! With economic experts suggesting a second Great Depression is possible if the economic shutdown continues — a depression that would be almost entirely self-induced by governmental closure of all “non-essential” businesses in light of the pandemic — the American left’s proposed solution is, rather unsurprisingly, to follow the leadership of former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Chinese Communist Party.

According to The Hill, a “first-of-its-kind program” that seeks to both bolster employment and aid in governmental coronavirus data collection has been cleared for a trial run in Massachusetts and may soon make its way to other states, or even the federal level.

Announced Friday by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, the infamous, socially liberal Republican-in-Name-Only, the program will see so-called “contact tracers” interviewing those with confirmed coronavirus cases in order to develop something of a governmental watch-list of all those who may be infected as a result of contact with known carriers.

“Massachusetts is the only state in the nation implementing this type of programming, and this collaborative tracing initiative will break new ground as we work together to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Baker said in a statement.

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Unspecified health officials and public policy experts across the country are apparently supportive of the program, according to The Hill, and hope to see it implemented elsewhere.

As the outlet reported, “Such a program aimed at bolstering national public health would be unprecedented in the history of the country.”

Still, Reid Wilson, national correspondent at The Hill, wrote, “As the economy nosedives into what could be a depression and millions lose their jobs in the space of a few days and weeks, a government-backed effort to get those people back to work does have a precedent, in Depression-era programs like the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).”

Do you think big government programs will help kick-start the economy after this pandemic?

Of course! What better place to find precedent for an emergency governmental employment program than in two FDR-era programs for which there remains little to no conclusive evidence of success in lifting the United States out of the worst economic collapse in its history.

As some of the nation’s foremost scholars of economics and capitalism from the libertarian Cato Institute to the conservative Heritage Foundation and even the Foundation for Economic Education have pointed out, New Deal taxes largely crippled American buying power and its employment programs failed to bring unemployment below 17 percent in every pre-war year save 1937.

Sure, the WPA and the CCC employed nearly 1 in 10 Americans and managed roughly 5 to 6 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product in the pre-war period, as The Hill so kindly points out.

For any reasonable person, however, this just indicates that more than 90 percent of the nation’s employment and GDP came from the private sector at the time, even with the government trying to expand its foothold in the dire economic straits.

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As many economic experts will tell you, it was not big government but the mobilization of American industry and the country’s workforce for the Second World War, followed by decreased taxes and a mass influx in spending afterward, that set the U.S. economy booming once again — a theory perhaps best explained by American lawyer and policy analyst Peter Ferrara in a 2013 opinion with Forbes.

But liberals are taking exactly the wrong lesson from the 1940s.

Of course, FDR — the big government tyrant who united his political enemies against him with his attempt to pack the Supreme Court, the borderline communist who revealed himself in his proposed “Second Bill of Rights” — is the eternal hero of the American liberal.

Protected by the veil of success in the Second World War and left-wing academic propaganda since, the man holds a largely undeserved place in the historical heart of a nostalgic American mind.

But, why should liberals stop with a Roosevelt model when the modern left-wing media’s apparent love affair with the Chinese Communist regime will provide cover for pointing to China itself as having set a supposedly admirable precedent for a contact-tracing program?

China, South Korea and Iceland have all apparently tried versions of the plan, and collecting great depth of new data, according to The Hill.

“In Wuhan, China, the government dispatched 1,800 five-person teams to track down every contact to warn them they were at risk,” Wilson wrote.

“No country has the reservoir of epidemiologists and public health experts necessary to surge tens or hundreds of thousands of people into the field to stop an outbreak,” he added. “But in countries like China, the government enlisted people who were not health experts and either taught them basic health functions or used the expertise they already had.”

Right… Because that sounds healthy.

But are we starting to see a pattern here? The health of the economy and the American people is actually not a primary concern for the nation’s left-wing “experts.”

All that matters to them is expanding government control and market share.

Big government rules, remember?

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Andrew J. Sciascia was the supervising editor of features at The Western Journal. Having joined up as a regular contributor of opinion in 2018, he went on to cover the Barrett confirmation and 2020 presidential election for the outlet, regularly co-hosting its video podcast, "WJ Live," as well.
Andrew J. Sciascia was the supervising editor of features at The Western Journal and regularly co-hosted the outlet's video podcast, "WJ Live."

Sciascia first joined up with The Western Journal as a regular contributor of opinion in 2018, before graduating with a degree in criminal justice and political science from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he served as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and worked briefly as a political operative with the Massachusetts Republican Party.

He covered the Barrett confirmation and 2020 presidential election for The Western Journal. His work has also appeared in The Daily Caller.