Ted Rall
October 14, 2009

Scene from a Hooverville during the Great Depression. When the economic collapse began a year ago, many Americans took comfort in the historical parallels with the Great Depression. As it had in 1929, the current crisis began under the clueless reign of a Republican, George W. Bush. Universally reviled since his non-response to Hurricane Katrina had exposed him and the men around him as both uncaring and incompetent — either one was forgivable, not both — Bush had reacted in the classic cold-blooded Republican form embodied by the president who gave his name to the Hoovervilles.

But all was not lost. The Democrats were coming in! Barack “Yes We Can” Obama was running well ahead in the polls. Soon our new FDR would clean up Bush’s mess.

In the late fall of 2008 Bush looted the stripped-bare U.S. Treasury one final time. Hundreds of billions of dollars in “bailouts,” this time for the benefit of the banks, insurance companies and automobile manufacturers whose profligate ways had contributed to the crisis, were doled out without pre-conditions. Millions of homeowners who faced foreclosure got no help whatsoever.

The way to stimulate a consumer-based economy is to put money directly into consumers’ pockets. Instead, Bush deployed the standard GOP trickle-down approach. Boosting the banks would encourage them to restore liquidity, allowing individuals and businesses to resume borrowing. But the banks weren’t stupid. They no longer wanted to lend to people who couldn’t repay them. They held on to the cash. Credit markets seized up.

Like his father in 1992, Bush finished his reign as he had begun it: tone-deaf, obliviously floating above the mayhem, utterly unconcerned with the fate of the average American staring at a stack of bills.

We were a nation without leadership. We knew there was no point looking to Bush and his GOP gangsters for help. But we weren’t too worried. Obama was coming. He would be the neo-FDR. He would get things rolling again.

During the 1932 campaign Franklin Delano Roosevelt promised that help was on the way. FDR argued against Herbert Hoover’s trickle-down approach. He spoke on behalf of the “forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid.”

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