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Learning From the New Deal: How FDR's Economic Legacy has Damaged America

Recorded on December 11, 2008

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Allison Auditorium

Elected on a buoyant tide of promises to balance the increasingly uncontrollable national budget and reduce the catastrophic unemployment rate, the charismatic President instead made dramatic changes to federal programming that directly contradicted his campaign promises.  Price fixing, court packing and regressive taxes were all hidden in the alphabet soup of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal.  These programs increased the financial strain on many and discouraged entrepreneurs from taking business risks that could have revived the national economy.  The New Deal survives in the form of many current government programs such as farm subsidies, minimum wage laws and welfare programs.  Roosevelt's imperious approach to the presidency changed American politics forever, and as he manipulated public opinion, American citizens became unwitting accomplices to the stilted economic growth of the 1930s.  All these years later, America still struggles with the damaging repercussions of FDR's legacy.

Dr. Burton Folsom Jr. holds the Charles F. Kline Chair in History and Management at Hillsdale College.  He has been a Senior Fellow in Economic Education and Economic History for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and serves as Senior Historian at the Foundation for Economic Education.  He is the author of several books including The Myth of the Robber Barons, now in its fifth edition, Empire Builders, and Urban Capitalists.  His latest book, New Deal or Raw Deal?, is available through Simon and Schuster Publishers.