Who Says Republicans Have No New Ideas?

Quiz: Which of the 2012 presidential aspirants delivered the following words at the Conservative Political Action Convention, now underway in Washington?

We have seen tax-and-tax spend-and-spend reach a fantastic total greater than in all the previous 170 years of our Republic.

Behind this plush curtain of tax and spend, three sinister spooks or ghosts are mixing poison for the American people. They are the shades of Mussolini, with his bureaucratic fascism; of Karl Marx, and his socialism; and of Lord Keynes, with his perpetual government spending, deficits, and inflation. And we added a new ideology of our own. That is government give-away programs….

If you want to see pure socialism mixed with give-away programs, take a look at socialized medicine.

If you guessed Jim DeMint, you could be forgiven. He talks a lot like this. But you’d be wrong. Newt Gingrich didn’t utter these precise words, either, although he uses much the same language and offers the same themes.

You’d also be wrong if you guessed Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, Tim Pawlenty, Ron Paul, Haley Barbour, John Thune, Mitt Romney, or Mitch Daniels. (Sarah Palin isn’t attending.)

But again, your mistake would be understandable because these words sound a lot like theirs. Any of them could have delivered this message – and all of them have, over and over again. It’s the Republican message of 2011.

The perfectly correct answer is Herbert Hoover.

Herbert Hoover didn’t deliver these words at this week’s Conservative Political Action Convention, though. He delivered them at the Republican National Convention in Chicago on July 8, 1952.

That was almost sixty years ago.

Republicans haven’t come up with a single new idea since. They haven’t even come up with a new theme.

Herbert Hoover, you may remember, didn’t have a sterling record when it came to the economy. As president, he presided over the Great Crash of 1929 and ushered in the Great Depression. He had no idea for what to do to help the nation out of the Depression except to balance the federal budget. By the time he was voted out of office in 1932, one out of four Americans was unemployed.

By 1952, Hoover had been proven irrelevant and hidebound.

After Dwight D. Eisenhower won the 1952 Republican nomination and went on to become president, he wisely disregarded everything Hoover had advised.

Robert ReichUnder Ike, the marginal income tax on America’s highest earners was 91 percent. Eisenhower also commenced the biggest infrastructure program in the nation’s history – the National Interstate and Defense Highway Act, which replaced America’s meandering two-lane roads with 40,000 miles of straight four and six-lane highways. He signed into law the National Defense Education Act, which trained a whole generation of math and science teachers, and upgraded American classrooms for the future. The Federal Housing Authority subsidized home ownership. The Defense Department spawned future technologies in aerospace and telecommunications.

Did the U.S. suffer fascism, socialism, deficits and inflation, as Hoover predicted? No. The U.S. economy soared. The median wage rose faster than ever before. And the incomes of America’s working class and poor rose at the fastest pace of all.

Robert Reich
Robert Reich’s Blog.


  1. George A. Crackuh says

    I’m sure Robert Reich balances his checkbook every month. I’m sure he knows full well why he does it. He does it because he knows he has to live within his means, or life will go very badly for him. Yet, amazingly, he thinks some other magic is at work if it’s the country’s checkbook instead of his own.

    Mr. Reich, feel free to contribute all the spare money you can, giving it to any and all unfortunate people that you wish to receive it. If you do so, I’m sure you’ll do your honest best to see that your money is spent sparingly and used wisely, and is not wasted or stolen at all.

    Encourage all your friends and everyone you meet to do the same. That is a wonderful thing for us all to do; and it has long been known as CHRISTIAN CHARITY in this country, and it is a powerful goodness. Americans are famous for their charity and generosity, and no country comes close to matching us in that regard.

    However, when our government evilly steals our money at the point of a gun, under the pretense of forcing charity, and helping others, all wisdom and honesty go out the window, and vast waste and corruption are the inevitable, undeniable result.

    Everyone knows that our government steals our money and p*sses most of it away, but you ignore that completely because of your statist do-gooder religious belief. Put your own money where your mouth is, Mr. Reich, and quit forcing your evil statist religion on the rest of us.

  2. Brian Knowles says

    Well, this is a good an explanation of the origins of the Tea Party as I’ve seen from the left.

    Hoover knew what the problems were back in the day, and the Republicans still haven’t fixed them, all these years later.

    I anticipate a change, pretty shortly..

  3. garry walsh says

    It is so sad that Robert R has to repeat what is commmon knowledge in most western democracies. We all make mistakes but Americans keep voting for Hooverism time and time again. Up to 45 million in poverty, 2(3) endless wars, an ersatz democratic corporatist in the white house and corporate criminals operating with impunity. How much pain do the american people have to suffer before the pennny drops?
    What scares me as a Canadian is u folk are going to drag us down with u.

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