Deal or no deal

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Deal or no deal

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President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal saved the United States from the Great Depression of the 1930s, but there was a trio of hidden supporters behind him. Roosevelt helped them work together in harmony and realized the successful implementation of the New Deal.

Harry Hopkins was among Roosevelt’s closest aides and was instrumental as one of the architects of the New Deal. He later shouldered the responsibilities of cleaning up the mess after the Second World War. However, Hopkins was suspected of communist leanings. After his death, controversy surfaced over claims that he might have spied for the Soviet Union.

Henry Morgenthau was considered the “left wing” of the New Deal. He was a Cornell University graduate and an enthusiastic admirer of classical economics. He opposed Keynesian economics at every step, and was dissatisfied with the New Deal from the outset. However, he underwent a change of heart after being appointed Secretary of the Treasury. The sign on his desk read “Economic recovery!” and he spared no efforts to expand public investment. He secured the vast budget required for the New Deal for 11 years. Morgenthau would be regarded by far as the best Treasury secretary at this moment in history.

Harold Ickes was the “right wing” of the New Deal and a Republican, unlike President Roosevelt, a Democrat. Roosevelt was brave enough to appoint him as Secretary of the Interior, the commander-in-chief of the New Deal. Ickes assumed responsibility for numerous construction projects such as roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, in addition to the Hoover Dam. With the nickname “Honest Harold,” Ickes faced up to Republicans who criticized the New Deal projects, smoked out incompetent and corrupt government officials and asked the Congress to approve the precise budgetary amounts. Naturally Republican and Democratic lawmakers approved his draft budget without any objection.

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama embraced his political rival Hillary Clinton, and the Republican Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will keep his post in the Obama administration. But Roosevelt is still head and shoulders above Obama. Roosevelt realized the dreams of the New Deal by borrowing ideas from a communist, a Republican and a classical economist.

The Lee Myung-bak government has echoes from Roosevelt strictly in view of policies such as tax reduction, budget expansion and the Korea?U.S. currency swap. Yet, how to hire and manage people remains at the core of resolving our problems.


The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo. [newsty@joongang.co.kr]

By Lee Chul-ho



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