I’d like everybody who possibly can, to listen to ‘Obama’s Challenge’: A Transformative Opportunity, a 38-minute interview, podcast, from NPR’s Fresh Air which broadcast on Thursday November 6.
And read the excerpt that’s included here as well.
Robert Kuttner, author of Obama’s Challenge spells out a convincing argument for both the depth of the problem and the need of a Roosevelt-like, New-Deal-like solution. I hate to summarize something as important as this, but:
“Yeah, right!” I was saying to myself, as I listened in my car. “Pipe dream. How do we pay for that?” I was muttering about deficit spending and the current administration and all, when, as I listened, I discovered that I’ve been wrong for a while on a very important concept. I just assumed, perhaps by instinct alone, that we can’t afford a New Deal solution.
And that’s where this interview caught me. Consider this, which Kuttner explained to Terry Gross. Our national debt has risen lately to 40% of GNP. To support the housing prices and create the jobs Kuttner recommends, he says, it would probably have to rise to 50% of GNP, maybe even more. But — and this opened my eyes wide — the debt rose as high as 120% of GNP during the New Deal. And, furthermore, that led to the most prosperous two decades in U.S. history, beginning with my birth in 1948 (not that I was the cause, but I enjoy the coincidence).
I don’t like being wrong. But it’s exciting to be wrong on this one because for the first time in months I see a way that the president-elect can dig us out of the mess. Hooray.