Letters to the Editor: January 12 – 18, 2017
Yes, Both the New Deal & Stimulus Helped the Poor
One Falls Church News-Press reader, Mr. Michael Johnson of Falls Church, recently asked in a letter if I am “sincere about helping the poor?” Mr. Johnson went on to suggest that the New Deal and programs like it do not help the poor.
The answer to Mr. Johnson’s question is “yes,” but I believe he is incorrect in his assertions about the New Deal. FDR’s New Deal was very successful in driving down unemployment and increasing growth. One need only look at basic statistics of GDP growth or unemployment to see that most of the gains in each were made before America’s entry into WWII.
FDR’s New Deal was successful largely because it succeeded in raising standards of living for both urban and rural working poor, groups which returned him to office for four terms and remained reliable constituents of his party for decades afterwards.
The idea that growth is only driven through tax cuts at the top is an idea which, like the “Roaring Twenties” alluded to by Mr. Johnson, leaves many millions of Americans behind while concentrating large gains among a wealthy few. This is a hallmark of the economies of Presidents who employed such measures, including Presidents Harding, Coolidge, and Bush, presidents whose terms in office were followed by dramatic recessions.
Tax cuts, when done right, can encourage growth, but they are not an economic panacea. At our current national rate of unemployment, new-deal style works projects may not be necessary or effective everywhere. But in places where poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment are stubbornly persistent, like southwest Virginia, targeted measures of this kind can be effective tools to stimulate the local economy. The most important question to me when I look to help local economies is, “does it work?”
The New Deal worked, and so did the Stimulus. Let’s stick with what works.
Rep. Donald S. Beyer
U.S. House of Representatives
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