Networks Start Cheerleading for 'New-New Deal'

     Perhaps in the wake of the election, all the nation’s free market economists took a page from Hollywood liberals’ book and left the country because they didn’t like the results. That would explain why the network news organizations couldn’t find even one to question President-elect Barack Obama’s proposals for a massive government-centric economic stimulus.


     The ABC, CBS and NBC evening news shows covered Obama’s Nov. 21 Web video addressing the economy. NBC reporter Savannah Guthrie said Obama had “some ambitious new plans,” referring to a sweeping two-year program to create 2.5 million jobs. Those jobs would be focused around infrastructure upgrades like “roads, bridges and schools,” and “green” industries.


     It would also be far more expensive than originally proposed. On the campaign trail, Obama called for a $175 billion stimulus, but as the networks reported, that number is out of date. ABC’s World News Sunday ran clips of Obama aides and other Democrats calling for “between $500 and $700 billion,” in the words of N.Y. Senator Charles Schumer.


     The sheer size drew ABC to the inevitable “new-New Deal” comparison, and to show the Time Magazine Cover in which Obama’s face is photo-shopped onto a famous picture of FDR. Presidential historian Robert Dallek said he saw “some striking similarities” between Obama’s webcast and FDR’s first inaugural speech.


     ABC did find one economist to discuss the stimulus -- Paul Krugman, the self-styled “progressive” New York Times columnist who’s been calling for Obama to have “the necessary audacity” to create a government program that would dwarf the “inadequate” New Deal.


     CBS produced its own economist to say that, however much control of the economy Obama wants to take for government, it’s not enough. Peter Morici of the University of Maryland called Obama’s proposal a first step. “We need other policies as well to fix what is structurally broken in the American economy: the banks, trade with China and our oil import dependence,” he said.


     The only real downside the networks could report is that the president-elect may be reconsidering his campaign pledge to rescind the Bush tax cuts for “the wealthy.”


     The absence of pro-free market, anti-new New Deal economists is strange considering some recent high-profile reappraisals of New Deal policies, including a 2004 UCLA study that found that FDR’s actions lengthened the Depression by as much as seven years and Amity Shlaes’ 2008 book, “The Forgotten Man.”


     With $700 billion and the free enterprise system at stake, we could use more sober analysis and less cheerleading.