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Reviews

Cigarette Holders, Nicotine Gum

Is President Obama a “change agent” on the level of Franklin D. Roosevelt, with a New New Deal comparable to FDR’s New Deal?

Michael Grunwald’s book details the enactment and operation of Obama’s almost $800 billion stimulus bill, officially called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  Though he covers only the first months of the new administration as it dealt with the Great Recession, Grunwald judges BHO to be the contemporary equivalent of FDR.

On the other hand, having the advantage of two years with a Democratic House and a filibuster-proof Democratic Senate, did Obama largely blow a rare opportunity to refashion government?  Bob Woodward, the veteran reporter, follows the wrangling in 2011 between Obama and congressional Republicans over raising the debt ceiling, a failed process that is currently repeating itself in 2013.

Both books demonstrate what Obama displayed again in his Second Inaugural Address: the belief of the President and his administration that government is the spark that keeps the economy going.  The private sector is a greedy milch cow reluctant to be drained for the common good.

Grunwald mentions Amity Shlaes’ critical reassessment of the New Deal, The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression (2008), admitting that her book “caught fire” among...

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