John Ransom

It’s a comparison that would probably make both men seethe. But it’s an apt comparison when one looks at the policies and the track records of Barack Obama and his “progressive” counterpart Herbert Hoover.

One day before Obama announces a get-tough policy with China ala president Hoover’s Smoot-Hawley Tariff- which seriously damaged the economy of the United States during the Great Depression- the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza explored some White House memos that show that Obama doesn’t understand the history of the Great Depression.

The memos paint a picture, incredibly, of Obama trying to recreate a Hoover presidency that deepened the Great Depression, rather than alleviate it.

In fact, according to Lizza, in one place Obama talks about wanting to engage in a big public works program, like “the Hoover Dam,” in order to capture the public’s imagination. 


Hoover Dam outside Boulder, NV

It’s not clear in the Lizza story if Obama actually mentioned the words Hoover Dam, but for the uninitiated, the Hoover Dam was the failed shovel-ready project of the Great Depression’s generation.

“Obama, still thinking that he could be a director of change,” writes Lizza about Obama before he ever took the oath of office “was looking for something bold and iconic—his version of the Hoover Dam—but Romer and others finally had a ‘frank’ conversation with him, explaining that big initiatives for the stimulus were not feasible.”

Talk about a smack-down. The grown-ups had to intervene.  

Has Obama ever been president of anything? Because the Lizza’s account certainly shows that Obama has NEVER been president of the United States.

But that hasn’t stopped Obama from advocating some other Hoover-style “reforms,” which, when enacted in the 1930s, economists agree, made the depression worse.

Hoover was a devotee of creating a nexus of cooperation between private industry and the government. He was kind of the original Big Government Republican. In addition to Solyndra-type public works programs, he also advocated federal subsidies for home loans.

Hoover engaged in such reckless spending that Roosevelt made a campaign staple of denouncing Hoover’s policies in a way all too familiar to those opposed to Obama’s big spending ways.

John Ransom

John Ransom is the Finance Editor for Townhall Finance, host of Ransom Notes Radio and you can catch more of the best money advice and monetary commentary by him daily 10am PT, 1pm ET at or on Comcast Cable


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