In one of the most hilarious history fails I’ve ever seen, Nancy Pelosi actually compares the financial reform bill to the New Deal:
[This week's Wall Street-reform legislation has] the boldness and enthusiasm of the New Deal but with less government.
Um, isn’t that kind of like saying that tap water has the boldness and flavor of Dr Pepper but with less carbonation and syrup? The New Deal was all about forceful government intervention; it wouldn’t have been the New Deal without it, and it wouldn’t have worked.
Pelosi says that the bill was “on a par with some of the measures that were passed at the time of the New Deal to address the Great Depression,” but where’s Glass-Steagall? Where’s the mechanism for breaking up financial institutions that are Too Big To Fail? Where’s the help for people who are struggling to keep their homes? Or is the Speaker just saying that the financial reform bill was comparable to some minor elements of the New Deal that didn’t have much effect on anything?
FDR enthusiastically took on the corporate establishment and implemented forceful measures to right the economy, restore employment and prevent future crises. Obama cautiously pushed as far as he felt was politically safe (and even opposed the measure to audit the Fed), and took what Scott Brown and the conservadems gave him.
Even if Obama’s apologists are right and this was the best any president could do in today’s filibuster-happy political climate, please don’t expect us to applaud a hollowed-out shell of financial reform (or stimulus, or health care reform, or climate reform) as some kind of grand historical achievement.